Minnie Liddell | St. Louis Public Radio

Minnie Liddell

Tax credits | Flickr

Two days before St. Louis voters would decide the fate of a small sales tax increase to pay for school desegregation in 1999, the woman who started the effort to get  better schools for black students asked city voters to take a “leap of faith” and back the tax.

“Without a source for funding,” Minnie Liddell wrote in a letter to the Post-Dispatch with her attorney, William Douthit, “the agreement becomes an empty set of promises, unrealized goals and positive educational outcomes that might have been.”

The tax hike, two-thirds of a penny, won big. Now it’s back in the public eye, in a dispute over who should benefit from its proceeds.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 29, 2011 - Don Senti remembers when the first group of St. Louis students in the area's voluntary school desegregation program got off the bus at Parkway South Junior High School, where he was principal.

"When the program started," said Senti, who went on to become superintendent of the Parkway and Clayton schools, "we had 1,500 kids, and every single one of them was white. I don't think we had any Indians, and we certainly did not have any Hispanics.

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St. Louis Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: On the morning of Aug. 25, 1983, about 300 St. Louis children boarded buses for trips lasting as long as 45 minutes to schools in the Ritenour District. In some cities, the sight of black children headed for predominantly white schools in the suburbs had triggered anti-busing rallies and, in some instances, violence. But the 300 kids who rode to Ritenour schools that morning enjoyed a quiet and peaceful trip, which set the tone for the start of perhaps the largest and certainly one of the longest running school desegregation initiatives in the nation.