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ST. LOUIS AMERICAN • JUNE 14 – 20, 2012

JONES Continued from A1 father’s footsteps. Though not the first African American to serve as Comptroller of the City of St. Louis, Virvus Jones was the most visible and impactful person of any background to hold that position. He set the standard for elected officials fighting for minority inclusion in contracting and workforce. His fiscal prudence resulted in upgrades in the city’s credit rating, and his then-controversial stands against a generous pension package for firefighters and imprudent, one-sided deal with the St. Louis Rams for its football facility have left him looking very wise in the 21st century. His oldest daughter, born in 1972, watched his every move as she was growing up. “I definitely am cut from the cloth of diversity and inclusion and that kind of politics,” Tishaura said. “I saw my dad challenge the status quo on awarding contracts and fight to bring in more minority businesses on all levels of key projects during his tenure as Comptroller.” Not only did his politics rub

COLLEGE Continued from A1 I’d either be working at a chain restaurant or worse. In my environment, there are a lot of ways to make money, but they aren’t all legal and that’s the sad truth.” On June 9, Hadley and 35 other students of the College Bound’s first college graduating class celebrated together at Cap & Gown Ball at the Hyatt Regency downtown. These students come from lowincome backgrounds and lacked the support they needed to navigate the college process. “I had been looking forward

off on her, but also her college major of finance, which prepared her well for her run for Treasurer. “My dad exposed me to career fields I’d never have thought about, like investment banking,” Tishaura said. “I met powerful black men and women in investment banking coming into St. Louis to do business with the city when my father was Comptroller.” The impact of his leadership spanned far beyond his own family. “I often meet people who say, ‘Your father gave me a chance when no other person or municipality would,’” Tishaura said. Her colleague in the State House, state Rep. Sylvester Taylor, is one of many examples. “Sylvester said, ‘Tishaura, I love your father. He gave me a chance,’” she said. “Sylvester was an electrician trying to get into an apprentice program at the same time the stadium conversation was going on, and they called him. He said they wouldn’t have called otherwise.”

Virvus said he is “almost overwhelmed” to observe how

much his daughter learned from him about politics and policy, but he also made conscious decisions as a father to prepare her for life. “I was born in a segregated society, and I made it a point to make sure she did not grow up in a segregated society,” Virvus said. Indeed, Tishaura graduated from Affton High School – hardly a hotbed of black consciousness – then went on to study finance at an HBCU, Hampton University. The diversity of experiences toughened her. “That’s partly where she gets her fearlessness. She’s not afraid to talk to anybody or challenge anybody,” Virvus said. “A lot of people who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement wanted to have that happen – we wanted to make the next generation fearless. That’s why we fought segregation. We wanted our children to be able to compete in a society that looked at them as equals.” He sees the effect of this work in her actions as a legislator. “Some of the issues Tishaura has taken on, like changing the disparity in crack and cocaine sentencing, fight-

ing for affordable health care – these are things she has taken up for people who can’t speak for themselves,” he said. Virvus’ civil rights activism has had a national sweep that came to benefit his daughter. He ran the caucus in St. Louis for Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign; as a result of that relationship, Tishaura was the only candidate for Treasurer invited to Jackson’s recent meeting with black clergy and elected officials in St. Louis. And then there was the U.S. Senate campaign by a young Illinois state legislator named Barack Obama, where Virvus got involved early as a volunteer fundraiser. Then-Senator Obama remembered this when Tishaura met him at subsequent Democratic National Conventions. He also remembered it when he saw Tishaura most recently at the White House as sitting president. “The President remembered who my dad was, and it wasn’t in the white paper of who I was,” she said. Having such a remarkably supportive and nurturing father has been especially crucial to Tishaura, since he is her only living parent. Her mother passed away in November 2000. “She was my rock, and

there isn’t a day that passes where I don’t think of her,” Tishaura said. Now the next generation is here in Tishaura’s son and the delight of her grandfather’s life, Aden Jones Jeffries. “My son is now 4 years old, and we’re preparing for him to enter kindergarten in the fall,” Tishaura said. “He’s a smart and energetic young man.” Aden’s need for an extended family also does much to explain why his mother is leaving a leadership position in

Jefferson City to run for office in the city where her father lives. But her father’s legacy – and remarkable foresight on issues that still haunt the city – make her a natural campaigner here. Tishaura said, “I’ve been interviewed by several news outlets about city pensions and the Rams’ lease, and I have been able to quote my father. He was right 15 years ago. I have been able to quote the same things he said because I feel the same way he did.”

to it for weeks,” said Hadley, who was also the keynote speaker. “It was better than my high school prom.” When Lisa Zarin founded the organization in 2006, she had just gone through the college application process with her own son. Her son had one counselor to every 20 students, and getting the paperwork together still felt overwhelming, she said. Counselors serving low-income neighborhoods often look after 500 students. “It just kept me up at night,” Zarin said. “So I said I am going to figure out a way to bring the process and the privileges that kids from highincome backgrounds have to kids from low-income neigh-

borhoods.” Today, College Bound is working with 469 students attending 39 local high schools and 70 colleges and universities throughout the country. Their seven-year program begins at the end of a student’s freshman year of high school and follows them through completion of college. At the event, several students from the first graduating class shared their stories through a video. “They always said I was smart, but you just don’t know. You’ve never seen anyone reach that level, so you don’t think that you could,” said Alexis Jamerison in a 2008 interview. She will graduate

from Saint Louis University in December. Nelson Dorvlo graduated from Lake Forest College in May. “We all came from the same situation but we made it out,” Dorvlo said. “We all had the same dream of being somebody. College Bound brought us together to help us achieve that goal together.” Tanner Senter, who graduated from Lake Forest College in May, is the first college graduate in his family. “My father has been absent in my life,” he said. “You hear about it on TV – a young black man without a father goes and becomes a criminal.” “Every student who has

gone through our program, they graduate from high school, and they go on to college,” Zarin said. This year, College Bound was one of 10 organizations – out of 374 studied – that the Education Policy Institute recognized as a “blueprint of success” for pre-college outreach programs. It was also the youngest organization selected. Zarin said some students entered the program with a 1.8 GPA. “These kids showed that if you gave them the resources, knowledge, support and love, they could totally do what they needed to do,” Zarin said. Hadley said, aside from academics, she learned self-

esteem and trust in people from the program. “Self-esteem came through building strong relationships with basically adult strangers. We trusted them with personal information. And it was a highly supportive environment. Even when you failed, they acknowledged that it occurred and it doesn’t have to occur again,” Hadley said. “This program should be available for everybody not just people in St. Louis. It would bring up society. Because with all the outcasts, College Bound picks them up, polishes them up and puts them back in society, and that’s what we need.”

‘The next generation fearless’

Sculptor and Dred’s descendent

Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Lynne Jackson the great-great granddaughter of Dred and Harriet Scott, receives a hug from sculptor Harry Weber during a dedication ceremony of a statue of her relatives at the Old Courthouse on June 8.


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