Timeline: A legacy of segregation in St. Louis, Ferguson

by @e_mariegibson December 12, 2014 4:00PM ET

What sowed the racial disharmony in St. Louis and its environs?

Flashpoint Ferguson
Race & Ethnicity

The St. Louis region has a long history of systemic racial discrimination in its urban planning policies, according to Colin Gordon, an expert on urban development and a professor at the University of Iowa. These policies have impacted communities, like Ferguson and the surrounding municipalities. And that legacy of segregation has become an integral part of the story of the shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson.

“We could look at segregation as just a pattern of where people settled on the ground, but I think its also important to recognize it as a pattern of intentional segregation,” said Gordon, who is also the author of the book Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City. “This was crafted meticulously through legal and policy instruments as a way of controlling where the population fell by race and by income.”

A combination of factors, including blatant discrimination by real estate agents in St. Louis, covenants restricting the buying and selling of property according to race and a series of policies on urban redevelopment, public housing and zoning contributed to the intense racial stratification. Some of the major turning points that influenced the region’s racial demographics are outlined here.

In "Ferguson: Race and Justice in the U.S.," Fault Lines returns to the city where Mike Brown was shot and killed to investigate how and why black communities feel targeted by law enforcement—and if those sworn to protect operate with impunity. The film airs on Al Jazeera America Monday, December 15, at 9 p.m. Eastern time. It will air again that evening at 9 p.m. Pacific time and again Saturday, December 20, at 7 p.m. Eastern and 7 p.m. Pacific.