Claiming to be Cherokee, contractors with white ancestry got $300 million

Posted in Articles, Economics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-07-10 17:36Z by Steven

Claiming to be Cherokee, contractors with white ancestry got $300 million

The Los Angeles Times
2019-06-26

Adam Elmahrek, Investigative Reporter

Paul Pringle, Investigative Reporter

Two years ago, when the mayor’s office in St. Louis announced a $311,000 contract to tear down an old shoe factory, it made a point of identifying the demolition company as minority owned.

That was welcome news. The Missouri city was still grappling with racial tensions from the 2014 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old, in nearby Ferguson. After angry protests, elected officials had pledged to set aside more government work for minority-owned firms.

There was only one problem…

Read the entire article here.

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We have not moved beyond race.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-09-15 15:31Z by Steven

We have not moved beyond race.

St. Louis does not have a proud history on this topic, and we are still suffering the consequences of decisions made by our predecessors.

However, it’s important to understand that racial inequity in our region is not the same as individual racism. We are not pointing fingers and calling individual people racist. We are not even suggesting that institutions or existing systems intend to be racist.

What we are pointing out is that the data suggests, time and again, that our institutions and existing systems are not equal, and that this has racial repercussions. Black people in the region feel those repercussions when it comes to law enforcement, the justice system, housing, health, education, and income.

Rev. Starsky Wilson, Rich McClure, et. al., “Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity,” The Ferguson Commission, September 14, 2015. 7. http://forwardthroughferguson.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/FergusonCommissionReport_091415.pdf.

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The Nine Lives Of Dianne White

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-05-09 21:03Z by Steven

The Nine Lives Of Dianne White

St. Louis Magazine
August 2005

Nancy Larson


Photograph by Katherine Bish

“‘Old what’s-her-face–is she still alive?’ About half of you folks thought I was pushing daisies. Well, surprise, surprise–I’m still here.”

That’s the way Dianne White Clatto imagines that fans from her Channel 5 days think about her–if they think about her at all. Still strikingly attractive at 66, the celebrity best known as Dianne White is a living contradiction: accomplished yet self-deprecating, engaging yet shy, religious yet irreverent.

Her career is a study in firsts: White was one of the first African-American students at the University of Missouri. Before the age of 21, she was the first black model for a major St. Louis department store, working for both Stix, Baer & Fuller and Saks Fifth Avenue. Only a few years later, she became the first full-time African-American weathercaster in the nation, at what was then KSD-TV. From the weather map to the anchor desk to live news, reporting from the field, there were few positions she didn’t try during her 26-year television stint.

She’s also enjoyed a semiprofessional singing career with the Russ David Orchestra, helped raise bonds to build the Arch and opened 11 Girls Clubs–all while raising a son, marrying three times and maintaining an enviable social life. Her past also includes a bank scandal that resulted in a federal larceny conviction.

But White never planned to be famous, infamous or even a pioneer. She says every opportunity she had–good or bad–came looking for her. Now a special assistant to Mayor Francis Slay, she begins each morning by telling herself: “This is going to be the most wonderful day!” Laughing, she adds, “which is a bunch of beans and potatoes. But I’m on the right track–I’m trying, right?” Wild optimism, quickly blunted by down-home realism, is an attitude White cultivated growing up as an only child in a poor St. Louis family in the 1940s…

…White was soon ready for her first weathercast, but the question loomed: Was St. Louis in 1962 ready to accept, much less embrace, a black woman on the air?

“How are we going to do this Dianne White thing?” she remembers the station’s decisionmakers wondering. “Were they going to offend the people, or the ones the station was more concerned about than the people–the advertisers?” Even as management debated the impact of her on-air presence, White refused to be stereotyped.

“The application at Channel 5 still had all those boxes about races and what color you are. I checked all the boxes; then, on the back, I wrote ‘G-u-e-s-s!’ I am African American, but I am also Irish and American Indian.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Dianne White Clatto, Weathercaster Who Broke a Color Barrier, Dies at 76

Posted in Articles, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-05-09 18:31Z by Steven

Dianne White Clatto, Weathercaster Who Broke a Color Barrier, Dies at 76

The New York Times
2015-05-07

Sam Roberts, Urban Affairs Correspondent (@samrob12)


Dianne White Clatto, in 1967, giving the weather report on KSD-TV. Credit St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Twelve years before Al Roker started as a weather anchor for a CBS affiliate in Syracuse, Dianne White Clatto made broadcasting history in St. Louis. In 1962, according to industry colleagues, she became the first full-time black television weathercaster in the country.

Ms. Clatto, who died at 76 on Monday at a retirement center in St. Louis, broke into television by way of radio. She was a manager for Avon, the cosmetics company, and hosted a live radio show when Russ David, a bandleader with whom she sang in an impromptu performance on the air, referred her to an executive of KSD-TV in St. Louis. She was hired as a $75-a-week “weathergirl” in 1962.

“What am I supposed to do?” she recalled asking her new bosses, in an interview with the Weather Channel. “They said to me, ‘This is called television.’ They said to me, ‘When those two red lights come on, start talking.’ And I said, ‘About what?’ And they said, ‘Preferably something about the weather.’ ”

Dianne Elizabeth Johnson was born in St. Louis on Dec. 28, 1938, the daughter of Milton and Nettie Johnson and a descendant of a Civil War general’s slave mistress. She was among the first black students to enroll at the University of Missouri at Columbia…

Read the entire obituary here.

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The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis (Book Review)

Posted in Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2009-10-26 22:10Z by Steven

The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis (Book Review)

Journal of Southern History
Vol. 67
2001

Lloyd A. Hunter
Franklin College of Indiana

The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis. By Cyprian Clamorgan. Edited and with an introduction by Julie Winch. (Columbia, Mo., and London: University of Missouri Press, c. 1999. Pp. xiv, 122. $27.50, ISBN 0-8262-1236-0.)

When Cyprian Clamorgan wrote The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis in 1858, he described what it took to “make it” as an anomaly in that city. He recognized that, in St. Louis as in antebellum communities throughout the United States, to be free and of African descent meant that one did not fit into a society that assumed that black people were meant to be slaves and that only white people could know freedom. Yet Clamorgan observed that there existed in the Mound City “a certain circle; … a peculiar class–the elite of the colored race” who attained their high status through “wealth, education, or natural ability” (p. 46). And the greatest of these was wealth. This stress on wealth as the key component of St. Louis’s black aristocracy comes through clearly in Julie Winch’s reprint of Clamorgan’s brief work. Through her informative introductory chapters, meticulous editing, and extensive annotation, Winch enriches our perception of the African American community of pre-Civil War St. Louis.  She also makes a valuable contribution to the study of free blacks.

The Cyprian Clamorgan who emerges on these pages was a barber and a well-traveled steward on numerous Mississippi River boats. He was also a mulatto with an exceedingly complex ancestry. Winch adeptly unravels the snarled tale of Clamorgan’s family and of Cyprian’s descent from an apparently unsavory French voyageur, the ambitious slave trader Jacques Clamorgan (ca. 1734-1814), and one of Jacques’s parade of “Negro wives” (p. 23). Although Jacques amassed a considerable estate, he failed to gain entry to the white upper class of St. Louis. Later his equally opportunist grandson Cyprian sought to benefit financially both from the sale of Jacques’s land claims and the marketing of a literary challenge to the white “notion that black people were all alike because they were black” (p. 2). Hence his publication of The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis in 1858, a propitious time when the Dred Scott case, which also emanated from St. Louis, was commanding national attention.

Clamorgan’s little book is a virtual tour of the free black neighborhood of antebellum St. Louis. Through colorful vignettes and often humorous comments, the reader meets the African American elite while also receiving, in Winch’s view, “a serious message about race, class, and power” (p. 3). Here for example is Mrs. Pelagie Rutgers, a former slave who bought her freedom for three dollars but who is now “worth half a million dollars” (p. 48). Around the corner is Mrs. Pelagie Nash, who owns nearly the entire block on which she lives. Here also are the “inveterate gambler” but “strictly honest” Samuel Mordecai (p. 51) and the “nearly white” Antoine Labadie (p. 56). Interspersed with the visits are some of Clamorgan’s bold judgments. Although adamantly opposed to slavery, he believed that abolitionists suffered from “the same morbid and diseased brain” as that of Harriet Beecher Stowe (p. 45). Moreover, the colored aristocracy, while unable to vote, controlled elections because “wealth is power” (p. 47).

It is Winch, however, not Clamorgan, who tells the more balanced story of St. Louis’s black elite. Her voluminous annotations provide a wellspring of information based on a wide array of primary sources ranging from church records and court cases to deeds and census data. The annotations occasionally contain more facts than are necessary, and many of the archival materials could be more adequately dated, but Winch’s careful research and its insightful presentation offer a valuable window on black society, and on the roles of class and race, in a vital southern river city.

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The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2009-10-26 21:53Z by Steven

The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis

University of Missouri Press
1999 (originaly written in 1858)
ISBN 978-0-8262-1236-8
136 pages
6 x 9
Bibliography, Index, Illustrations

Cyprian Clamorgan

Edited with an Introduction by

Julie Winch, Professor of History
University of Massachusetts, Boston

In 1858, Cyprian Clamorgan wrote a brief but immensely readable book entitled The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis. The grandson of a white voyageur and a mulatto woman, he was himself a member of the “colored aristocracy.” In a setting where the vast majority of African Americans were slaves, and where those who were free generally lived in abject poverty, Clamorgan’s “aristocrats” were exceptional people. Wealthy, educated, and articulate, these men and women occupied a “middle ground.” Their material advantages removed them from the mass of African Americans, but their race barred them from membership in white society.

The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis is both a serious analysis of the social and legal disabilities under which African Americans of all classes labored and a settling of old scores. Somewhat malicious, Clamorgan enjoyed pointing out the foibles of his friends and enemies, but his book had a serious message as well. “He endeavored to convince white Americans that race was not an absolute, that the black community was not a monolith, that class, education, and especially wealth, should count for something.”

Despite its fascinating insights into antebellum St. Louis, Clamorgan’s book has been virtually ignored since its initial publication. Using deeds, church records, court cases, and other primary sources, Winch reacquaints readers with this important book and establishes its place in the context of African American history. This annotated edition of The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis includes an introductory essay on African Americans in St. Louis before the Civil War, as well as an account of the lives of the author and the members of his remarkable family—a family that was truly at the heart of the city’s “colored aristocracy” for four generations.

A witty and perceptive commentary on race and class, The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis is a remarkable story about a largely forgotten segment of nineteenth-century society. Scholars and general readers alike will appreciate Clamorgan’s insights into one of antebellum America’s most important communities.

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