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Veteran politician offers views on road ahead for black officials

CENTRAL WEST END – With the possibilities of ward reduction and redistricting as well as new development on the St. Louis horizon, Twenty-Sixth Ward freshman Alderwoman Shameem Clark-Hubbard called Wednesday on an elder to help navigate the road forward for black elected officials.

She invited Terry Kennedy to discuss issues facing those officials, at a talk she billed as a “1 on 1 Meeting: A Black History Month Conversation.” The public was also invited to listen to their meeting, at the Demetrious Johnson Foundation in the Eddie Mae Binion Center, 724 N. Union Blvd. between Enright Avenue and Delmar Boulevard.

Kennedy, currently the Clerk of the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen, is a second-generation political figure and spent three decades as Eighteenth Ward Alderman. 

While alderman, and a member of the Public Safety Committee, he spearheaded the passing of a Civilian Oversight Board. Known for progressive advocacy and pan-Africanism, Kennedy, a well-respected thinker, has worn many other hats over the years. 

He is a Howard University graduate who has worked in campaigns for desegregation, racial justice, the anti-apartheid movement and the effort to free activist Angela Davis from jail in 1972. Kennedy has also been a teacher, bookstore proprietor, journalist and a member of NGOMA, a drumming ensemble and social think-tank collective.

Clark-Hubbard explained that Kennedy was her top choice for such a brain-picking session

“This is something crucial that we have to talk about, and he has such a broad knowledge of our history and politics,” Clark-Hubbard said, adding that black elected officials needed to know how upcoming events might affect them. 

The talk was sparsely attended, but the history, wisdom and advice Kennedy provided was immeasurable.

He called the effort to reduce the 28-member board of aldermen to 14, the usual “white lash” that took place to push back against blacks whenever they make or threaten progress.

This time around, he said, the great possibility of the city of St. Louis’ having a mayor, comptroller and board of aldermen who are predominately black, was the impetus.

As a community, he said, “we have to go to work and prepare for it.”

He also laid out three things that must be done. First, he advised, blacks have to work together and be the architects of their own vision and fight.

Second, he said, change is inevitable, so “the question is, do we have the power enough to change it in the direction that we want it to go?”

Third, he said, “we have victories all over the place, so we must recognize and celebrate our victories.”

Kennedy also urged the formation of community organizations.

“And we have to keep one another informed,” he stressed. “There might be things that you find out as an organization that your alderman may not know, so let them know. There’s still a tendency in America where non-people-of-color will not disseminate information to our communities.”

Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner attended the talk. She was announced by Clark-Hubbard as a figure of black history and received a standing ovation.

Fourth Ward Committeewoman Dwin Evans also attended.

Bill Beene

bill.beene@thenorthsider.com Bill Beene was born and raised in north St. Louis. He has been a journalist for 12 years. He enjoys cooking and roller skating. He lives in the historic Ville neighborhood.

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