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.