Maria Chappelle-Nadal, Cora Faith Walker, Raychel Proudie and Kevin Windham Jr.

We can all objectively recognize that the current state of St. Louis city and county is unsustainable. The original sin of the City-County Divorce in 1876 has scarred our region. It has divided us economically, politically and morally. It has forced our municipalities to race each other to the bottom to compete for the scraps of economic development. It allowed wealthier and whiter communities to thrive, while poorer and blacker communities suffered.

We can all see there is a need to change this reality, but the scheme being proposed by Better Together is not the plan that St. Louis needs. It in many ways exacerbates the inequities that exist today, dilutes the voices that would fight those inequities, and lets the rest of the state make that choice for us. In endorsing Better Together, John Gaskin and the St. Louis County NAACP betrayed their constituents.

The merger scheme concocted by Rex Sinquefield and his Better Together cohorts would decimate African-American representation in St. Louis. Combined with the redistricting plan proposed by Clean Missouri, the dismantling of African-American political power will extend to Jefferson City.

With John Gaskin representing the needs of wealthy white business interests and diluted African-American representation in government, who will be left to represent the needs of Black people in the St Louis region? To complete his betrayal of the community he was trusted to represent, shortly after endorsing the Better Together scam, Gaskin sold out the field hands so that he could move up to the big house by accepting a consulting job to push the Better Together proposal.

John Gaskin is a traitor to his constituency, and his actions are an abomination to the NAACP. Previous St. Louis County NAACP presidents have fought very hard to maintain African-American representation in the region. Past presidents have understood how historic and systemic racism has impacted black communities in St. Louis and how important black representation is in combating that racism.

Gaskin has obviously either forgotten or simply disregarded those lessons from our past and has deviated from the goal of preserving African-American political influence.

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