Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Black Groups, Causes Serve Good Purpose

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Black Groups, Causes Serve Good Purpose

Article excerpt

THOMAS R. BAILEY Jr. was surprised by the letter.

"As I was eating lunch with my children at a Taco Bell here in St. Louis on South Kingshighway," it began, "I couldn't help but notice the large billboard right outside the window. I found it very disturbing. It's a promotional advertisement for an exposition coming to St. Louis of which you sponsor. In large, bolder letters it screams `The Power of the African American Woman.'

"Obviously I'm not black. I've never considered myself prejudiced towards blacks. Unfortunately, I find the billboard very offensive. It's discriminating. If the billboard said, `The Power of the White American Woman,' how many lawsuits and outraged black citizens would we have? I'd guess so many that such a sign would never go up in the first place. We would never be allowed to have a United Caucasian College Fund . . . We as a world are supposedly working so diligently on meshing the races together and then allow so many 'specialized' organizations to exist . . . (This) viewpoint is shared by many and needs to be addressed."

Bailey, who is co-founder of the Missouri Black Expo along with David E. Board III, said he was taken aback by the comments.

"This is the first letter like this we've received in the three years of the Expo," he said. "The last thing in the world we want to do is to put together a program that excludes anyone. The Expo is open to anyone and everyone who wants to attend."

Bailey explained that the Expo, which opens today and continues through Sunday at the Cervantes Convention Center, is designed to give exposure to black-owned businesses and to help improve employment among blacks. The latter is particularly important as the black unemployment rate hovers in the double-digit range.

"It's been almost traditional in America for members of different ethnic groups to work with each other to pull themselves up economically," Bailey said. "If you look through history at some of the other groups that have come here, you'll see efforts by them to help each other financially. That's what this is."

Part of the idea behind the Expo, Bailey said, "is to help educate blacks on economic matters. …

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