‘Citizen Brown’ Author Talks About Longstanding Patterns of Segregation in St. Louis’ Suburbs

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Over the past month, many U.S. citizens have made a commitment to broaden their knowledge of Black history through books, movies and other sources. The Missouri Historical Society is an excellent resource for continuing to learn about race and culture in a local context.

On July 2 at 6:30 p.m., as part of its STL History Live online speaker series, the Missouri Historical Society hosts Colin Gordon, author of the 2019 book “Citizen Brown: Race, Democracy and Inequality in the St. Louis Suburbs,” an insightful exploration of inequality and sustained segregation in Ferguson and the rest of the St. Louis region.

In an earlier book, “Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City,” author Colin Gordon used a single house in The Ville neighborhood to give urgency to the issues leading to urban decline.

In “Citizen Brown,” Gordon uses a similar technique, focusing on the 2014 death of Michael Brown. Gordon exposes half a century of private practice and public policies that resulted in entrenched patterns of racial segregation and uneven citizenship in St. Louis County. To further enrich public dialogue, he has published an online companion to the book with interactive maps, photographs, data visualizations, sound and video clips and other resources.

Gordon is a professor of history at the University of Iowa and an expert on American public policy and political economy. In addition to “Mapping Decline” and “Citizen Brown,” he has written many other books and articles about topics that have impacted American cities in the past 100 years, including health care, labor and business.

In the July 2 STL History Live conversation, hosted by Gwen Moore, Curator of Urban Landscape and Community Identity for the Missouri Historical Society, Gordon discusses his book and the backstory to the August 2014 death of Michael Brown. To join the event, click the Zoom link at 6:30 p.m.

The Missouri Historical Society is offering STL History Live—a series of free online programs via the video conference app Zoom—to bring you fascinating stories about St. Louis through presentations followed by a Q&A. If you can’t make it to the live version, check out the recorded program that will be published on their YouTube channel.

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