House to House: Mergers, Annexations, & the Racial Implications of City-County Politics in St. Louis
19 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2015 Last revised: 21 Mar 2016
Date Written: October 9, 2014
According to most scholars, Jim Crow's death elevated African Americans even as white departures depressed them, condemning blacks to isolated neighborhoods, segregated schools, and crumbling urban cores. To counter such reversals, liberals endorsed the consolidation of urban and suburban zones, hoping that such moves might thwart flight, promote integration, and ameliorate the effects of what scholars began in the 1970s to term “institutional” or “structural” racism. Initially such efforts focused primarily on schools, but quickly expanded to include other types of consolidation as well, including the consolidation, or merger, of major metropolitan areas and surrounding counties. While the rubric of consolidation has tended to enjoy a progressive cast, certain aspects of metropolitan mergers bode ill for African Americans, particularly in the area of electoral influence. For example, St. Louis City boasts a comparative black majority of 47.9% (with whites totaling 46.4% and Asians 3.1%), while the adjoining county claims only 23.7% African American residents. As this essay shall demonstrate, full integration of the two entities would lead blacks to lose significant electoral clout, particularly over county positions like the prosecutor's office, leaving them politically weaker across the board.
Keywords: Ferguson, Race, St. Louis, Merger, Structural Racism, Voting
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