The Fannie Lou Hamer Coalition

The Fannie Lou Hamer Coalition, a new political party formed by African-American leaders who are frustrated with the Democratic Party, endorsed Republican Rick Stream in the race for St. Louis County Executive. The group made their announcement at a Wednesday press conference at the Berkeley City Hall. Photo by Rebecca Rivas

The Fannie Lou Hamer Coalition – a group of more than 30 African-American elected officials who feel disrespected by the Democratic Party – endorsed Republican Rick Stream today in the race for St. Louis County executive.

Group leader Hazel Erby, a St. Louis County councilwoman, said the Democratic Party has not listened to African-American leaders during important issues in St. Louis County, such as addressing the unaccredited schools and Ferguson unrest.

“We wrote letters. We made phone calls, just to be ignored,” Erby said. “That’s not happening anymore.”

The group feels their endorsement will deeply hamper Democratic candidate Steve Stenger’s chances of winning the election in November, which was already one of the tightest races in the state. Stenger, a St. Louis County councilman, beat incumbent Charlie Dooley in the August primary.

Stenger recently worked against efforts to increase inclusion initiatives in St. Louis County, Erby said. Stenger also has “unbreakable ties” to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, and that concerns the group in regards to the unrest in Ferguson. McCulloch is leading one of the investigations into Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed unarmed teen Michael Brown, and has been repeatedly asked to step aside due to questions of his objectivity in the case.

State Rep. Courtney Curtis said he led the group’s negotiations with Stream about ensuring that he will work with them on inclusion issues.

“He’s an honest broker,” Curtis said. “We do have a relationship with him. We can trust him, and the other side has shown that he is unwilling to work with us.”

When questioned about their views on Stream’s right-winged beliefs, the group leaders repeatedly reiterated that it is not about the candidates.

“This is about disrespect of the black community,” said Mayor of Berkeley Theodore Hoskins.

It’s more about flexing political muscle that the African-American political community did not have before the coalition was established, said Mike Jones, senior policy advisor for the Office of County Executive Charlie Dooley.

The coalition’s endorsement aims to change the “political geography” in a revolutionary way, he said. In St. Louis County, Jones said the margin of victory for the Democratic Party is largely dependent on black voters. Now the group has an opportunity to demonstrate African American’s political influence in St. Louis County, regardless of who wins the election. And to show that they don’t have to continue to be ignored and disrespected by the Democratic Party locally and statewide.

“Who actually gets the county executive seat is a side of grits,” Jones said. “As of today, they can’t lose. The only question how big is the win going to be.”

The coalition members have all signed a declaration that pledges to “end the political forces that have never recognized our humanity, nor cared about our welfare.”

“There is no group more important to the viability of the St. Louis County Democratic Party than the African American community,” the declaration states. “Yet, there is a total absence of any political consideration for the African American community, whether it is in the party leadership, the development and support of candidates for elected office or advocating for public policy solutions that speak to the needs of the African American community in St. Louis County.”

Michael Kelley, former executive director of the Missouri Democratic Party, attended the press conference and spoke with reporters afterwards. Kelley was shaking with outrage at the coalition’s move, saying that it goes against Democratic morals. He said Stream is an extreme conservative that has moved to cut minimum wage and who also led the fight to try and keep President Barack Obama off the ballot.

Normandy Mayor Patrick Green responded to his claim saying that Stream will be an administrator, not a legislator. And if Stenger were a good leader, he would have reached out to them to bridge the gap in the Democratic Party.

Green said, “They had the opportunity to bridge this a long time ago.”

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(5) comments

RiverCityX

I'm always in awe at the level of confusion among us as Black people. While I too have become quite disenchanted with Steve Stenger of late, I don't understand choosing a rival who would vote to reduce the minimum wage (even if only for tipped employees). These wealthy gentries could care less about a working person or a Black person, yet all of these (minstrels) are lining up to endorse and extreme right -winger like Rick Stream.

SMDH

ogel

This group seeks power and attention by using the name of one who earned it through her own individual acts of leadership, courage, and perseverance. Ms. Hamer achieve fame because of her own character.

If their primary concern is a "lack of respect for the black community," all of that can be changed by focusing on improving the 12% voter turnout among African-American votes. There is far more power and impact in a larger voter turnout. When you don't vote and candidates who do not represent your interests are elected, you can't blame the one elected, you blame those who never voted in the first place.

Pianki

I agree with this group. It is just ridiculous that whites are over represented in these municipal services jobs in these majority black cities. Police, public works, city hall, fire department and school districts. This unbalance has got to be reversed if not sooner then over a period of time. Can you imagine ten qualified blacks showing up in Crestwood (where I understand Officer Wilson hails from) to apply for ten open police department jobs? As reported by the Post Dispatch just recently regarding the police and years ago as it pertains to the fire departments, these communities in north county where whites are holding down nearly 100% of these positions at municipalities that are majority Black and African-American. This has to stop. I once again support The Fannie Lou Hamer Coalition.

Theonelinda

You fail to mention that they left the police department on their own because of a african-american mayor, too! I read about it. You don't think their actions were being races? Have the mayor murdered someone, has he beating someone, has he put drugs on someone and has he rape someone? My father is Caucasian but I consider myself African American and I'm proud of it. I pray everywhere the African American leaders are the races Caucasian people move away!! Some Caucasian people have proven for a thousands of years how evil they are against human!! Get it, he hasn't done anything evil!! Look like you trying to get people to judge one because of the other. How about telling us all the evil things some corrupt Caucasian people have done to humans while they were In office, law enforcement killing people, beating, raping people and so much more, don't forget the citizens doing the same thing and getting away with murder!!

Barbara Gralnick

Well, I don't know about this guy Stream, but the guy to his left in the picture, James McGee, mayor of Vinita Park, I do know. Corrupt. Has used absentee ballots fraudulently to win his bid for mayor twice. Has caused the city to be sued multiple times for unlawful firings of police officers and police chiefs. Has been credibly charged with sexual harassment. He gives out free bread and used hotel mattresses to the lower income residents to curry favor. Little do they know what is really going on.

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