ST. LOUIS – Urban League President and CEO Michael McMillan says St. Louis has made strides on becoming a more inclusive and diverse community, but if the region did more, St. Louis could be regarded as the “Atlanta of the Midwest”.
McMillan spoke with FOX2NOW for its “Uniting St. Louis” series talking to those on the front line of change in our community.
He said diversity and inclusion need to become engrained in the psyche of every element of the area. McMillan quoted former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, who said his city was too busy to hate.
McMillan explained that Atlanta now has the busiest airport in the world because officials, businesses, civic leaders, corporate companies, members of the Black community, and more worked together to move the region forward.
“Sadly, if you look at where Atlanta was in the 1960s and where they are now, and where St. Louis was in the 1960s and where we are now, sadly, they have grown exponentially, and we in many cases have stayed the same or gotten smaller,” said McMillan.
McMillan did highlight what he called “undeniable change” over the nearly 6 years since Michael Brown’s death and the Ferguson unrest that followed.
He explained that the city of Ferguson now has its first Black police chief, its first Black and female mayor. Wesley Bell, a former Ferguson council member, is now St. Louis County’s first Black prosecutor. In St. Louis City, seven of the nine elected officials are Black, Also, the police department and city council are more reflective of the community it serves.
St. Louis has the nation’s largest Urban League chapter. The chapter has been busy helping the St. Louis region with basic needs during the pandemic. The Urban League and its staff of 250 also work to empower the members of the community and improve race relations not only in St. Louis.