An exciting element of the CommonBound conference was five schedule site visits to historic institutions across the St. Louis metropolitan area. Organized by the St. Louis Host Committee, CommonBound site visits aimed to share the rich cultural and historic legacy of the city with conference attendees.
“In the early 1950s, Pruitt-Igoe, a vast public housing project, arose on 57 acres on the near north side of St. Louis. Barely 20 years after construction, the 33 eleven-story buildings that made up the complex were razed, and the vacant land that was once home to thousands of people was gradually reclaimed by a dense, neglected urban forest. What happened in-between is a story that tempts but also defies simple narratives. It is a story of interweaving and competing accounts, both then and now.” - from Images of America: Pruitt-Igoe
This tour was led by St. Louis native, Bob Hansman, associate professor and a faculty fellow of the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement at Washington University in St. Louis. In the early 1990s, he founded—and still directs, with his son Jovan—City Faces and the Jermaine Lamond Roberts Memorial Studio, in the Clinton-Peabody public housing project. Locally, he has received a Rosa Parks Award and a Dred Scott Freedom Award for his work.
For background on this tour, please watch the trailer for the documentary, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth.
The United States is sprinkled with African-American communities that have endured segregation and discriminatory practices to become historical monuments of African-American culture. While we are familiar with popular names such as Harlem and Black Wallstreet, a lot of these communities still go unknown. St. Louis is home to one of those great cultural relics, the Ville. During the past century, the Ville stood as the cultural and academic epicenter of black St. Louis serving as home to internationally recognized institutions, educators, business and artists. Though the disparage of discriminatory practices have weighed heavily on the sustenance of the neighborhood, its greatest landmarks still remain reminding us of the legacy of the Ville. Join 4theVille as they take you on a tour of the Heat of the Ville, visiting landmarks and narrating the rich history of the community. The 4theVille tour combines historical narrative with testimony from residents that have lived through the rise and fall of the neighborhood. Tours are provided on foot and last roughly 60 minutes long. Tour attendees will also received Ville heritage guides allowing them to revisit and explore the neighborhood's relics in their own time.
This tour was led by 4 the Ville, a partnership between Northside Community Housing and multi-generational Ville residents to celebrate and share the rich history of the Ville, a historic African American community in the heart of St. Louis, Missouri.
Black Girl Heal
The Black Girl Heal experience is a sacred space filled with dance, poetry and healing circles. For the CommonBound site visit, Black Girl Heal offered a wide variety of mediators, activities, and tools to assist Black women on their journey to mastering self and obtaining balance.
What to expect :
small groups / breakout sessions lead by women psychologists, healers, and counselors
handouts / workbooks to aid in the journaling process
community of sisterhood
proactive tools demonstrating how to obtain healing
teas, herbs, and spices
The Griot Museum of Black History
The Griot Museum uses life-size wax figures, other art, artifacts, and memorabilia to interpret the stories of African Americans with a regional connection who have contributed to our country’s development. Visitors can “meet” and learn about Carter G. Woodson, Josephine Baker, Dred and Harriet Scott, Elizabeth Keckley, William Wells Brown, James Milton Turner, Clark Terry, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Earl. E. Nance Sr., Miles Davis, Madame C.J. Walker, York, Percy Green, Macler Shepard, Chief Sherman George, and others.
The Griot's interpretative program includes an authentic slave cabin, originally built on the Wright–Smith Plantation in Jonesburg, Missouri. Visitors can solve puzzles, view documentary videos, and “board” a scale model section of a ship that replicates those used to transport Africans to America during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The North St. Louis County Work Day
The St. Louis Metropolitan Area includes St. Louis City and County. Locally, St. Louis County is divided by directions, known as South County, West County, and North County. Although St. Louis County is the second highest income-producing region in Missouri, economic disparity still exists within North County, which includes the Ferguson municipality. This tour took a firsthand look at suburban decay and sprawl within North County and the many ways the local community is working on regional improvement and economic development.
This tour was led by A Red Circle, an organization working to achieve racial equity, increase healthy food access, and promote economic activity within the north St. Louis County communities.
The tour also included a short workday at United People Market, a locally-based not-for-profit, healthy food market located in Dellwood, Missouri, which is an economically stressed municipality in north St. Louis County. The market sells organic, produce, good for you meats, and locally sourced sauces and other food items at a fraction of the cost of traditional healthy food stores.