Author: Ryan Velez
The Gateway Arch is not only one of the biggest landmarks in St. Louis, but also one of the signature sights of the United States in general. In theory, renovating the arch grounds should be a time to celebrate, but the St. Louis black community is upset, and it has to do with who was, or wasn’t invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Riverfront Times has more on the story.
A picture taken of the grounds showed an all-white ceremony, and since it was posted on Tuesday afternoon by Mayor Lyda Krewson, much of the reaction was critical. “Lyda Krewson, for a mayor who stated she would represent ALL of STL did you not notice the lack of diversity in this line up?” wrote a man named Corey Jones on Krewson’s Facebook page. “Did you or anyone question ‘where are the constituents of color who also made this project viable?’ Not even ‘token’ representation of the many people of color who were involved. Once again a missed opportunity to be inclusive perpetuating the notice that people of color are still in the back of the bus.”
Missouri Representative Bruce Franks Jr. (D-St. Louis), made a much more succinct response, adding, “#ArchSoWhite.”
Franks has special reason to be upset, considering that his District 78, includes the riverfront, downtown and the Arch, but he wasn’t invited to the July 3 event. A list of white politicians present at the event included Mayor Krewson, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, U.S. Representative Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin) and U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) and Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri).
St. Louis, which is 50% black, had several other elected city officials who could have made an appearance. The city has elected, along with Franks, Treasurer Tishaura Jones, Sheriff Vernon Betts, President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed and Comptroller Darlene Green.
The Gateway Arch Park Foundation, the non-profit that organized the opening ceremony, issued an apology on Wednesday. “The grand opening was an opportunity to celebrate an important achievement in St. Louis. As organizers of the event, we acknowledge that our ribbon cutting did not reflect the diversity of our community for that and for any hurt it has caused we are sorry,” they tweeted.
Franks held another ribbon-cutting event on Friday with a more diverse line-up, but it looks like the damage has already been done.
Read more from Riverfront Times at: https://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2018/07/05/after-archsowhite-fiasco-black-officials-organize-a-ribbon-cutting-of-their-own