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NAACP

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.
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.”

Voting booths
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.

Ferguson and St. Louis residents are trying to cope with and understand a grand jury's decision not to indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the August death of Michael Brown, and the response, sometimes violent, to that decision.

Wednesday on "St. Louis on the Air," we discussed an upcoming march organized by the NAACP; protests in St. Louis; the response in Washington, D.C.; the grand jury evidence and how to talk about Ferguson and protests with children.

Guests

via Flickr/davidsonscott15

Civil rights advocates hope to build on the public awareness surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and others to push for a federal ban on racial profiling and to strengthen laws across the country. While Missouri ranks among those states with one of the more comprehensive laws on the books,  it falls short of what advocates say is necessary to combat racial profiling effectively. 

The primary focus of Missouri’s law deals with the collection and reporting of data related to traffic stops, including:

March 82314
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

  Despite soaring temperatures, hundreds turned out for the St. Louis County NAACP’s youth march in Ferguson on Saturday afternoon.

The marchers moved up and down West Florissant Avenue, the street that has been the center of protests since Michael Brown was shot to death by a Ferguson police officer Aug. 9. Unlike some previous violent protests, this march was entirely peaceful. Police officers handed out bottled water as the temperature rose into the upper nineties.

Berkeley website

A town hall meeting called by the NAACP in the wake of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson was urged Monday evening to channel anger into productive change, but not every member of the overflow crowd seemed ready to leave the community’s rage behind.

For about 90 minutes, speakers at Murchison Tabernacle CME Church at 7629 Natural Bridge Road talked about what some called an “unfolding tragedy,” reminding everyone that the real focus should be on the fatal shooting of Brown by a Ferguson police officer, not the disturbance and looting that followed.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

The local NAACP says air pollution from coal-fired power plants is having a disproportionate impact on the health of African Americans in the St. Louis area.

The civil rights organization joined the Sierra Club, Missouri State Senator Jamilah Nasheed and others on Wednesday to rally in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits on carbon dioxide emissions.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate has passed the final version of legislation designed to ease the burden of the state's school transfer law. It includes a provision that would end free transportation for transfer students -- a provision that would make it harder for students from failing schools to actually attend other districts.

Missouri Solar Energy Industry Association

(Updated at 10:25 p.m. on Thursday)

A report from the NAACP says Missouri should increase production of renewable power and require utilities to offer energy efficiency programs. 

Accomplishing those goals, the report says, could provide better health, cheaper utility bills and more manufacturing jobs in the state’s urban core.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Judge to consider claims of Mo. death row inmate

This week a special judge appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court will start taking another look at evidence used to convict Reggie Clemmons of murder in 1991.  

Yesterday a coalition of local and international activist held a pre-hearing rally in support of Clemmons at Kiener Plaza in St. Louis. 

President of the St. Louis branch of the NAACP, Adolphus Pruitt, said there are lingering questions about the evidence used to convict Clemmons.   

(via NAACP Release)

A long-time St. Louis attorney and civil rights activist is this year's recipient of the top award from the NAACP.

Frankie Freeman will receive the 96th Spingarn Medal from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in July.

She was honored Wednesday on the floor by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who called the medal an appropriate recognition of Freeman's 60-plus years of civil  rights activism.