St. Louis County NAACP Has New President

By Free Radical

New St. Louis Count NAACP head John Gaskin III.

New St. Louis Count NAACP head John Gaskin III.

On Friday, it was announced that John Gaskin III will serve as the new president of the St. Louis County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Gaskin III who is 26, replaces former legislator and long time president Esther Haywood. In accepting the position, Gaskin III, expresses his gratitude for Haywood’s leadership.

“I want to thank the Honorable Esther Haywood, because, if not for her, none of this would be possible. It was through her leadership and my parents … I got involved with the NAACP at the age of 9,” Gaskin said at a news  conference at the Chester Inn in Clayton.

Gaskin III, who is 26 works as a diversity and inclusion outreach manager for the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. He is also a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors.

Gaskin vowed to concentrate on education, employment, and criminal justice. Particularly he plans to establish a county police affairs committee led by St. Louis County Police Lt. Col. Troy Doyle.

On the technical front, the new president plans to lean more heavily on digital forms of communications for people to register civil rights complaints to the NAACP.

Shirley LeFlore Named New Poet Laureate

By Free Radical

Shirley LeFlore was selected as St. Louis's next poet laureate.

Shirley LeFlore was selected as St. Louis’s next poet laureate.

Critically acclaimed poet Shirley LeFlore has been announced as the new St. Louis poet laureate. LeFlore was officially sworn in on November 9 at City Hall.

“I feel very good about it because this is the town I was born in,” LeFlore said of receiving the honor. “I’m so happy. My history is deep with St. Louis. I’m 78 years old – and I’ve been doing this for 50 years.”

A native of St. Louis, LeFlore was a member of the locally revered Black Artists’ Group (BAG). In the 1970s, she founded the Messenger Singers, an ensemble composed of all women that performed with the likes of trumpeter Baikida Carroll, and the percussionist Famoudou Don Moye of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. As a solo artist,she has preformed with local R&B legend Fontella Bass.

LeFlore has also held various teaching and educational administration positions at St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Webster University and UMSL.

Though she has concentrated on spoken word poetry, her work has appeared in a wide range of books and her own Brassbones and Rainbows which was published in 2013.

The decision is nearly two years in the making as local officials rankled over who would succeed the city’s inaugural poet laureate Michael Castro. In December 2016, a specially appointed task force selected Jane Ellen Ibur as his successor. However, shortly after her selection it was revealed that  local poet and educator MK Stallings was allegedly removed from that committee when he voiced objections to Ibur’s nomination. Stallings was of the opinion that LeFlore should have been chosen as the poet laureate.

In late October, the committee reconvened and agreed that LeFlore would serve from November to April 2019 when Ibur becomes laureate.

Election Recap, St. Louis, MO metro area

By S. Christopher Emersonvote-here-sign

The following is a roundup of the results of last week’s midterm elections. Locally, small progressive gains were made. But statewide, Republicans continue to build Missouri as a conservative stronghold with urban progressive holdouts. Outstate constituencies largely elected, re-elected or fought tooth and nail conservative and ultra-conservative candidates, while passing forward measures on the state level.

*While US Rep Lacy Clay retained his office with 80.1% of the vote, Claire McCaskill was upset by Josh Hawley in her bid for US Senate. Hawley’s lead became apparent early in the returns as he soundly defeated the incumbent with 51.4% of the vote to her 45.5%. Many observers suggest progressive apathy toward McCaskill and her moderate to centrist messaging. Hawley’s tribute to the president and his divisive agenda endeared him with outstate conservatives. Some wonder if this means we should expect more minstrel-esque radio commercials advertising Republican candidates in future races.

*Missouri Auditor- Democrat Nicole Galloway won with 50.4% of the vote, followed by Republican rival Saundra McDowell with 44.6%.

*Democrat Mavis “Tessa” Thompson retained her position as St. Louis License Collector, having been soundly elected with 82% of the vote.

*Democrat Steve Stenger kept his St. Louis County Executive seat with 56.9% of the vote, with a surprise showing from Black Republican plant Paul Berry III getting 37.3%. Berry III seemed to ride on a red wave of messaging that attempted to take advantage African American voter frustrations with an ineffective nationwide Democratic agenda.

*Joyce M. Roberts and Donna M. Jones were elected to the St. Louis School Board with 29.4% and 24.1% of the vote respectively.

*St. Louis Circuit Judges Paula Perkins Bryant and Michael Noble were retained with 74.8% and 71.7% yes votes respectively.

*Missouri Constitutional Amendment 1- Redistricting, campaign reforms and opening legislative records: Yes- 62.0%

 

*Missouri Constitutional Amendment 2- Legalizing medical marijuana 4% retail tax fund going to Missouri Veterans: Yes- 65.5%

 

*Missouri Constitutional Amendment 3- Legalizing medical marijuana with 15% retail tax funding cancer research institute: No- 68.6%

 

*Missouri Constitutional Amendment 4-Limits bingo advertisement language and reducing time of membership for game facilitators: Yes- 52.4%

 

*Missouri Proposition B- Raises the minimum wage to $8.60 with 85 cent yearly increase until 2023: Yes- 62.3%

 

*Missouri Proposition C- Legalize medical marijuana, removing prohibitions on growth, possession and production and 2% retail tax fund for veterans’ services, drug treatment, early childhood education, and for public safety in cities with a medical marijuana facility-No- 56.5%

 

*Missouri Proposition D- Two and one half cent motor fuel tax for state road fund for law enforcement and road construction and maintenance: No- 53.6%

Possible Recounts to Take Place in Florida and Georgia

By Malcolm Speaks

George gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has determined to continue her campaign until all votes are counted.

George gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has determined to continue her campaign until all votes are counted.

The former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives is in a dead heat with the Georgia Secretary of State and the Florida Secretary of State has already ordered a recount in the governor’s race this past Saturday.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner issued the order after the unofficial result fell within the margin that by law triggers a recount. His office was also unaware of any other time either a governor race required a recount.

The unofficial results show that Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by 0.41 percentage points. Even though Mayor Gillum initially conceded after the election in Florida, Secretary Detzner ordered a machine recount for the race. Once completed, if the difference in the race are is 0.25 percentage points or below, a hand recount will be ordered, according to Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell. Gillum has since rescinded his concession to allow for the recount.

Meanwhile, in the state of Georgia there is also a close gubernatorial election between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacy Abrams, who could be the first Black woman to be elected governor of any state in the US. However, in this case, Kemp was also the Georgia Secretary of State who supervised and monitored the election and refused to step down from this post until two days after the polls closed. US President and Georgia native, Jimmy Carter, urged Kemp to recuse himself earlier to foster voter confidence and avoid the risk of bias.

Additionally, 214 polling locations across the state, primarily where people of color live and in areas of high poverty, were closed. Also, long lines resulted from a shortage of voting machines in these same areas, thus requiring voters to use provisional ballots. However, many of these ballots have not been counted.

Just days before early voting began, a civil rights group sued Secretary Kemp “over the state of Georgia’s discriminatory and unlawful ‘exact match’ voter suppression scheme”, resulting in 53,000 pending voter registration applications which affected mostly “minority” voters.

Additionally, during the three months leading up to election day, more than 85,000 voters were purged from rolls under Secretary Kemp. During 2017 alone, 668,000 voters were purged, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Of those voters who were purged in 2017, investigative reporter Greg Palast reported to Salon magazine that 200,000 people were said to have left the state, died or moved out of their district, making them legitimate cancellations. However, as a result of litigation, he obtained the entire purge list. “Of the 400,000 who supposedly moved, our experts will tell a court that 340,134 never moved – wrongly purged,” Palast told the Guardian, saying that people had been purged for not voting in an election or two.

Furthermore from 2012 to 2016, 1.5 million voters were purged, more than 10 percent of all voters according to a 2018 report from the Brennan Center for Justice. Lastly, 750,000 voters were purged from 2008 to 2012, after the first election of former President Barack Obama.

Therefore, NAACP president Derrick Johnson released a statement:

“Kemp’s actions during the election were textbook voter suppression. His actions were strategic, careless and aimed at silencing the voting power of communities of color in the state.”