One of the byproducts of the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson is the national attention that has been paid to the dramatic disparity in voter participation and political representation of African-Americans in the small suburb of St. Louis.
Ferguson is a city of 23,000 and is roughly two-thirds Black. Its six-member city council has just one African-American member. The level of voter participation by Black residents has been abysmal, sometimes as low as 6 percent.
In the last week, a number of local elected officials and local organizations are seeking to address this situation.
“Everybody is trying to move in that direction now,” said Courtney A. Curtis, a member of the Missouri House of Representatives, in an interview with BET.com. “It’s an area where there is a lot of work to be done and a number of people are now trying to do that work.”
As one example, Antonio French, an alderman in St. Louis, has put together an organization a few miles north of his district, in Ferguson, to encourage local residents to register to vote and to become more engaged politically.
The organization, Heal St. Louis, has set up a small storefront in Ferguson and has opened for business with local residents.