The recent events of the past several weeks have shaped our entire region in a number of different ways. From channeling outrage to questioning the role of local government and police, St. Louis Public Radio has been providing a forum for these vital and important discussions. St. Louis Public Radio and NPR's Michel Martin hosted a panel discussion called, “Ferguson and Beyond: A Community Discussion,” on the evening of August 28 at Wellspring Church in Ferguson.
It’s fair to say that Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III has broken the mold for elected leaders in north St. Louis County.
When he was first elected to his post in 2011, Knowles became one of the youngest mayors in the state. He is also one of the few Republicans who managed to electorally prevail in the heavily Democratic area. And he’s probably the only elected official in Missouri who emerged victorious in an amateur wrestling match against Randy Orton, a north St. Louis County native who became a famous professional wrestler.
An audience member shows Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III a rubber bullet wound that he says he received during unrest in the north St. Louis County city. A forum sponsored by St. Louis Public Radio became heated, with the biggest ire being directed at Knowles. NPR's Michel Martin is at center.
A forum Thursday evening peering into Ferguson’s longstanding tensions as well as the St. Louis region’s racial divisions became angry and heated, with most of a crowd’s ire directed at the town’s mayor.
Audience members expressed searing criticism of Ferguson’s governance and leadership, both of which have come under fire since one of the Ferguson's police officers shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.
To have a conversation, someone must listen. NPR journalist Michel Martin says that will be her role Thursday as she moderates a public discussion in Ferguson.
“People know their own stories best,” Martin said. “I think my job is to listen to hear those stories and to make sure that everybody gets a chance to be heard who wishes to be heard, and hopefully heard in a manner that will be constructive to other people listening.
“Basically, this is neighbors talking to neighbors.”
Thursday’s community conversation at Wellspring Church in Ferguson will include:
When Michel Martin, host of NPR’s Tell Me More, brings her show to St. Louis Public Radio’s home of UMSL at Grand Center on November 8, 2013, it should come as no surprise that education will be a topic.