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Ferguson-Florissant parent Redditt Hudson (left), attorney Dale Ho, and past school candidate Willis Johnson at a press conference announcing a lawsuit against the Ferguson-Florissant schools on December 18.
Diane Balogh | ACLU of Missouri

Updated at 2:25 p.m. July 3 with comments from the ACLU — A federal appeals court in St. Louis has ruled that the way the Ferguson-Florissant School District elects its board members violates the rights of black voters in the district.

A three-judge panel on Tuesday determined that Ferguson-Florissant’s at-large election means black voters have “less opportunity to elect their preferred candidate than other members of the electorate,” even though three-fourths of the district's students are black. The decision upholds a 2016 lower court ruling.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, addresses a packed audience at Thursday's annual NAACP dinner held June 21, 2018 in downtown St. Louis.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat and rising national star, delivered a two-pronged address in St. Louis on Thursday that appeared to be aimed at elevating her own profile while also boosting fellow Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Both officials were star attractions at the St. Louis County NAACP annual dinner, held at the downtown Four Seasons Hotel.

Many of Harris’ keynote remarks focused on challenges facing like-minded Americans who are upset over various actions by President Donald Trump’s administration.

Frankie Freeman, family, and bronze statue. November 2017.
Kae M. Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

More than half a century ago, civil rights attorney Frankie Muse Freeman became the first woman appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. At that point, she’d already opened her own private legal practice and helped end legal segregation of public housing in St. Louis.

Since that momentous day in 1964, she has continued to fight for civil and human rights. At 100, she’s still active in civic affairs.

On Tuesday, the St. Louis City chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People dedicated a bronze statue in her honor at Broadway and Chestnut Street, near the Old Courthouse.

Denise Lieberman with the Advancement Project speaks at the beginning of a news conference on voter rights Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, in front of the Missouri History Museum.
Erica Hunzinger | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:15 p.m. with comment from St. Clair County state's attorney — President Donald Trump’s election commission is bent on restricting Americans’ right to vote, members of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition said Tuesday.

The statements came the same day the Trump administration’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity met in New Hampshire. The commission, headed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was set up in May. It asked states to send in voter registration records.

Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:30 p.m. with ACLU comment — Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit against the state’s new voter ID law.

Organizers with the St. Louis Action Council have protested against systemic inequality in Missouri.
File Photo | Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

Following up after the NAACP last week issued a travel advisory for the state of Missouri, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay is calling for Gov. Eric Greitens and other state officials to confront the fact that a new Missouri law and other policies are discriminatory.

Clay, a Democrat from University City,  says the state’s racial problems go beyond some of the legislative changes singled out in the the NAACP advisory, which warns travelers that they “could be subject to discrimination and harassment” in Missouri.

Ina Boon at a 1985 health fair.
Boon Family

The longtime, indefatigable regional NAACP leader, Ina Boon, whose name became synonymous with the organization in the St. Louis region, has died. She was 90.

For more than half a century, Ms. Boon was a bold advocate for racial justice through her leadership roles with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. During her tenure, Ms. Boon worked closely with some of the NAACP’s most well-known civil rights leaders, who all became her boss, including Roy Wilkins, Rev. Benjamin Hooks, Chavis Muhammad (formerly Benjamin Chavis) and Kweisi Mfume.

Nimrod Chapel, the president of the Missouri Chapter for the NAACP (far right), hosted a news conference on Tuesday about workplace discrimination bills on Feb. 28, 2017. Also shown (from left to right): Michael Louis, Jeff Stack and Jeanette Mott Oxford.
Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

Two weeks after Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel was silenced by a House Republican committee chairman on bills he believes are discriminatory, he stood at the Missouri Capitol to decry the “hyped-up Jim Crow” measures that are “fundamentally flawed.”

A day after after he wasn’t allowed to speak at the Feb. 13 hearing, Chapel said House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, told him the chamber was not at its best and assured Chapel he'd be given the opportunity to share his complete testimony. But no hearing has been scheduled yet.

File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:01 p.m. Jan. 05 with response from the court — Ferguson-Florissant's April school board elections will operate under its old at-large system. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the NAACP's request to switch to the cumulative voting method a federal judge ordered earlier in the voting rights case. 

Tax credits | Flickr

St. Louis is backing charter school parents in a legal dispute over how money from a 1999 city sales tax is distributed.

St. Louis officials  argue that the money from the sales tax was designed to help all students attending public schools in the city, not just those in district schools.

The St. Louis Public Schools and the NAACP, which filed the lawsuit, say the money should go only to the school district, not to charters, and they want to recover more than $50 million that has gone to the charters since 2006.

Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

One day before filing for the spring election begins, the Ferguson-Florissant school board announced Monday that it will appeal a federal judge’s ruling changing how board members in the district are elected.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel last month ordered that members of the board of the north St. Louis County district should be elected with cumulative voting, in an effort to achieve racial balance. He said that the current system of electing all board members at large “is legally unacceptable.”

LeDiva Pierce with her daughters Alfreida (left) and Unique. Pierce is one of two charter school parents seeking to intervene as plaintiffs in St. Louis Public School's dispute with the state over funding.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Two parents of children in charter schools in St. Louis are taking their fight to be involved in a school-funding lawsuit to a federal appeals court.

Earlier this year, a U.S. District Court judge rejected attempts by Ken Ross Jr. and LeDiva Pierce to intervene in a motion brought by the St. Louis Public Schools and the NAACP. The court actions seeks to stop money from a 1999 sales tax from going to charter schools and want the charters to pay back $50 million in tax proceeds they have received over the past 10 years.

File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 22 with comments from plaintiff Willis Johnson. — A federal judge has ordered the Ferguson-Florissant School District to vote for its board members using cumulative voting.

Judge Rodney Sippel's order, filed Monday, closes a nearly 2-year-old civil rights challenge to the way the district has run school board elections. Sippel ruled in August that the old method of selecting candidates in at-large elections violated the federal Voting Rights Act, and halted the April 2017 school board elections until a solution could be found.

Civil Rights Attorney Frankie Muse Freeman will turn 100 years old in November.
Provided by the St. Louis American

This article first appeared in the St. Louis American, and is used with permission:

Frankie Muse Freeman’s mother once shared a poem with her.

“There’s a line, ‘It shows in your face,’” Freeman said during a Black History Month talk at Anheuser-Busch in 2010. “However you live, it shows on your face. That was the theme that I tried to show through the experiences of my life.”

File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

The Ferguson-Florissant School District wants a federal judge to approve an election system he ruled unconstitutional in August because it diluted the power of black voters.

Despite that ruling, Ferguson-Florissant attorney Cindy Ormsby said there’s still a possibility that the judge will decide the original at-large system is best.

Uber staff help potential drivers with the ride-sharing company's application process during recruitment event in the Central West End.
Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

UberX says it will recruit 2,000 new drivers in the first year after local regulators permit the company and other smart-phone-based ride services to operate in St. Louis.

To spread the word and garner support, Uber has teamed up with St. Louis branch of the NAACP, the St. Louis Agency of Training and Employment (SLATE) and the employment initiative Ferguson 1000.

Ferguson activist Charles Wade, left, gives Atlanta students a tour of W. Florissant Ave. before they start the voter registration drive on Sunday, March 8, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:30 p.m., Friday, March 13

As several Ferguson officials resigned this week, Atlanta college students under the direction of the NAACP spent their days meeting the city’s residents.

In four days they registered more than 150 Ferguson and Jennings residents to vote, and collected contact information for another 3,000.

Rosebud bills its downtown as a "magnificent mile" full of antique shops, restaurants and other stores.
Stephanie Lecci

The city of Rosebud, a small town about 70 miles southwest from St. Louis, is trying to reclaim its image after NAACP protesters were met there with aracially charged counter-protest.

Mother, Daughter Reflect On Racism Encountered In Rosebud, Mo.

Dec 5, 2014
On the outskirts of Rosebud, Mo. 120414
Provided by the St. Louis American

It was eerily quiet when the group of about 75 people on the NAACP’s “Journey for Justice” entered the small town of Rosebud, Mo., on Wednesday.

St. Louis Public Schools instructor Rhea Willis turned to her daughter, Cheyenne, 15, and asked her, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

They had started the 134-mile trek from Ferguson to Jefferson City on Saturday, seeking systemic change to the criminal justice system and justice for Michael Brown Jr.

Juggling Jeff performs at the Lewis & Clark library branch
St. Louis County Public Library | Dave Moore

Several community organizations are using the Thanksgiving holiday to give back -- especially in the wake of the unrest in Ferguson.

That includes the St. Louis County Public Library system, which has been offering special events this week for north county students whose schools have been closed because of the unrest in Ferguson.

Officials decided to restart the program after first offering it in August.

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