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View Diary: Ferguson, Missouri: I think I felt the wind change... (319 comments)

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  •  I grew up in Ferguson Missouri (17+ / 0-)

    I grew up in Ferguson Missouri, we lived at 341 S. Dade St.

    I was drafted into the Army in 1969 and never went back to Ferguson. When I was a boy, Ferguson was all white. It was a little railroad town of about 35,000 people. It was nothing like a "suburb of St. Louis." It was more like Mayberry.

    Anyway, about three blocks behind our house, the streets ended, it was literally the edge of town. There was an 8 foot chain link fence as far as you could see in both directions. On the other side of the fence the area was heavily wooded. On the other side of fence was the town of Kinloch, that's where the Black people lived. No one I knew had actually ever been in Kinloch. There was only one road that went through. One early summer, when I must have been about 12 or so, myself and a couple of my friends bravely went through a hole in the fence, because we'd heard that you could buy firecrackers in Kinloch, even M-80s.

    I was shocked at what I saw! People living in shacks!!

    I vividly remember one home that seemed to have been built with corrugated tin and large outdoor advertising signs. In the space of about one block, we went from ordinary post-WWII suburban homes, with lawns, paved streets, streetlights, all that, into a town of dirt roads, decrepit shacks and ramshackle cars. Even as an idiot kid I was saddened by this. We ventured a couple of blocks into Kinloch, very scared, you could tell the people there thought we were an unusual sight, three white boys, and voila! there was a fireworks stand. We all bought a bunch of firecrackers and headed back to the fence. We were nearly there when we were set upon by a group of young boys about our age, who stole our firecrackers! I never again ventured into Kinloch but I have often wondered if what we saw was just the "poor part" of Kinloch.

    Somehow, the same racism that kept Black people from living in Ferguson in the 1960s is still there even though Ferguson is mostly Black nowadays.

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