New Mayor in Town: Black, Bold and Female
St. Louis made the news last week. This time it was good news. The city made history with the election of its first female black mayor. Tishaura Jones will succeed the city’s first white woman mayor, whose incompetence and lack of leadership have generated numerous negative headlines during her less-than-outstanding tenure.
For those of us who have fought for black political power, history was a footnote. We have organized ourselves around a serious political strategy that transcends black faces in high positions. Building an intergenerational multiethnic movement in St. Louis involves more than one candidate. It is about deliberate progress for a city sunk in a white, supremacist, patriarchal past.
This is precisely why the election is believed to be a turning point for the city. It was a vote to break with the backward, racist status quo that has stifled the life and promises of the city and marginalized the black population politically and economically.
Building an intergenerational multiethnic movement in St. Louis involves more than one candidate. It is about deliberate progress for a city sunk in a white, supremacist, patriarchal past.
Tishaura Jones is no newbie to politics. Her father, Virvus Jones, served as a councilor, city surveyor, and city administrator. Tishaura also has three public service offices. She was a state representative, city treasurer and now mayor. Neither of the Joneses is cut out of bureaucratic material, both were unapologetically pro-black.
In the seven years since the Ferguson uprising, our social justice movement has matured and strengthened. The region is more politically conscious, more committed and demanding transformative change. It has run a number of progressive black candidates, including St. Louis County Attorney Wes Bell, St. Louis Attorney Kim Gardner, and Congressman Cori Bush. We passed a minimum wage hike and Medicare expansion, and we beat back a law on the right to work.
Implementing this agenda means changing the faces of those who misrepresented and disregarded us. We are getting rid of the weeds – regardless of race or gender – so that the flowers of justice, inclusion and transparency can bloom.
Tishaura Jones will inherit a hot mess as the new mayor. In addition to a deadly pandemic, Jones is faced with a hostile law enforcement agency recording killings, population losses, and neighborhood destabilization. Structural racism and all of its props are formidable obstacles. Your first 100 days will be a sobering testament to their dedication and skills.
It will also be a challenge for Jones’ supporters to show our patience and perseverance. We will have to work hard to strengthen our movement and protect our highly competitive profits. It becomes a bodacious, powerful force that will continue to expand as we implement the people’s agenda in the melting pot of democracy.