Fannie Lou Hamer Coalition | St. Louis Public Radio

Fannie Lou Hamer Coalition

On April 22, 2019, St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City and other black political leaders announced their position on the NAACP's endorsement for the city-county merger. The same day they called for John Gaskin III to resign as pres
File photo | Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:45 a.m., April 23, with comment from a Unite STL spokesperson — More than 30 African American political leaders from the St. Louis metro area are calling for the resignation of St. Louis County NAACP President John Gaskin III.

The announcement came Monday afternoon at the Cool Valley City Hall, several days after political leaders accused Gaskin of having a conflict of interest after he revealed he is being paid by Unite STL. The organization is the political arm pushing for the Better Together’s city-county merger recommendations. Gaskin announced the St. Louis County NAACP was in favor of the merger on April 18.

Members of the Fannie Lou Hamer Democratic Coalition stand with businessman Mark Mantovani, in back, at an endorsement event on May 5, 2018.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Several dozen Democratic African-American officials in St. Louis County are endorsing businessman Mark Mantovani for county executive — and opposing incumbent Democrat Steve Stenger.

“We need a person who’s going to work for all the people in St. Louis,’’ said Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy at an event Saturday at Mantovani’s new regional campaign office in north St. Louis County.

The group, known as the Fannie Lou Hamer Coalition, is pledging to help Mantovani in the August Democratic primary for the county’s top post. There is no well-known Republican seeking the job.

African-American elected officials announce that they endorse Rick Stream, a Republican, for St. Louis County Executive. 10/1/14
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

For some in both camps, the decision of a group of African-American Democratic officials to endorse Republican Rick Stream for county executive boils down to one word:

Payback.

Berkeley Mayor Ted Hoskins said as much when he explained at Wednesday’s news conference — which featured about two dozen north St. Louis County officials — that Stream’s conservative views and legislative votes aren’t the issue.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 4, 2010 - A century after the Civil War, 19-year-old Chris Hexter of St. Louis joined an army of idealistic youths in blue jeans and sneakers heading south to Mississippi to fight side by side with African-American residents who were demanding -- at long last -- their constitutional right to vote.

It was the Freedom Summer of 1964, and though 46 years have come and gone, the human struggle that ensued during that sweltering summer in the Delta remains seared into American history -- and in the memories of those who were there.