OCTOBER 4 - 10, 2012 • ST. LOUIS AMERICAN
FILM Continued from C1 with Richard Baron, the young lawyer from the Legal Aid Society who would become a founding partner of McCormack Baron Salazar – whom King initially rejected. King said, “Isn’t that funny? I said, ‘What does he know, he’s just a kid? A cute little blond – his hair was blond then – 20-something year old. What does he know?’” King said. “They said, ‘Ms. King, he is our lawyer.’” Out of that meeting came a 40-plus year partnership and friendship between King and Baron that has helped change the face of urban St. Louis and other metropolitan areas across the country. It is the subject of Daniel Blake Smith’s documentary, Envisioning Home: The Jean King and Richard Baron Story, which will premiere to a private audience next week and be an official selection of Cinema St. Louis’ St. Louis International Film Festival next month. “I said to Richard when we were filming the movie that you know when I met the writers they were getting ready to do my life story. I’m not ready to give my life story yet. I’m not through,” King said. “I’ve got some more stuff to do. What I really wanted that movie to do – and it’s doing that – is for it to be Richard’s legacy. I’m proud of that. Although he thinks it’s the Jean King movie.” The feature-length documentary film explores the relationship between King and Baron from the beginning. A
POTPOURRI Continued from C1 and apple cobbler. All guests received a complimentary photo with their best friend provided by photographer Monroe Lawrence. There was a “Dazzling Earring/ Necklace” competition and three guests won prizes in the “Most Bling,” “Most Colorful” and “Most Creative” categories. Guests expressed how much they enjoyed the event and are looking forward
charismatic, homegrown leader, Jean King meets Richard Baron, a Legal Aid lawyer turned visionary planner and developer during the St. Louis public housing tenant strike in 1968-69. King was actually on her way out of public housing – waiting for a cab to take her to her new apartment to sign a lease. Witnessing a seemingly insignificant incident changed the course of King’s life and the face of affordable housing. She was waiting for her cab and she saw a boy that she knew – Andre Smallwood – leaving Peabody School pick up a soggy piece of bread that someone had dropped in the snow. She marched home to speak to the boy’s mother. “I went to her and I said, ‘You get food stamps, you get welfare. Why is this child hungry?’ And she started to cry and she handed me a letter. Her welfare grant was $134 and her rent had just been increased to $165. I said, ‘My God; they really do have something to talk about a rent strike.’” She reluctantly teamed with Baron. “I began to talk to him and I found out he knew a hell of a lot more than I did about housing law. Everybody that I needed to know, somehow Richard already knew,” King said of Baron. “Knowing nothing about housing law – knowing nothing about nothing except somebody’s got to do something. I came to the meeting to see what was going on since my taxi didn’t come and Andre was eating bread off the ground. That’s what made me come.” Nine months after it started,
the rent strike ended with the tenants’ victory – thanks to Baron, King and a host of power players that were in their corner. “In October 1969, the strike was over,” King said. “And that’s when the work began. Everything that McCormack Baron operates by was created in my living room – in the projects – with me and Richard dreaming.” The dreams of King and Baron went beyond simply making housing affordable. “Richard came to me and said, ‘I’ve come to the conclusion that the government is never going to build decent affordable housing for poor people, and I just see that one day we are going to have to do it ourselves,” King said. “I said to myself, ‘Okay, now he’s really crazy.’ I didn’t want to manage the stuff, and he’s talking about building and owning the stuff. Through the years we started planning.” Their plans became the seeds of McCormack Baron Salazar. Since its inception in 1973, the organization has become the nation’s leading for-profit developer of economically integrated urban neighborhoods with an impact that stretches over 18 states. “Out of that rent strike, McCormack Baron was born,” King said. “And when I look at where we started – this blond, blue-eyed lawyer and me wild, and crazy vicious. I have to say that this was a mission from God.” Envisioning Home: The Jean King and Richard Baron Story will be a featured selection for the SLIFF for more information, visit www. cinemastlouis.org.
to it next year. A few of those celebrating their best friends included: Mary Hayden (Jaden’s Diner), Honorable Michael McMillan (St. Louis City License Collector), Mary Franklin, Merri Jeffries, Linda Holloway (Co-Pastor, Solomon’s Temple Church) Fannie Clark Rogers, Minister Charlotte Griffin (Christian Embassy Church), Ollie Brookins, Nicole Lyles, Minnie Hall (turned 90 this month!), Fecelia Fields, Vivial Lopez, Chris Prinster (Organo Gold Coffee-provided complimentary coffee
and tea for all), Tracy Finney (Tracy’s Treasures), Charline Miner, Linda Prince, Louise Weaver, Jennifer Grant, Donna Stevenson, Sharonda Ellis (Arbonne and Events Above the Rest), Linda Green (Casually Cute Creations) and Eileen Blackburn (Premier Jewelry). Congratulations to Dr. R. Jerome Williams Sr. who was honored by the Missouri Botanical Gardens Board of Commissioners on September 13, 2012. Dr. Williams retired from the board after 21 years of service. Missouri Botanical Garden President Dr. Peter
David and Thelma Steward
Continued from C1 composer, trumpet player and director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, “We talked initially well over a year ago about a good gala artist for the symphony’s next gala, and a couple of things came to mind. We had strictly classical guest artists for the first three galas and wanted to think a little differently. When I learned of Dave’s interest in Wynton and their friendship, I thought that would be a great fit.” St. Louis will be able to see and hear that “great fit” for themselves when Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra perform with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for the St. Louis premiere of Marsalis’ Swing Symphony at 7 p.m. Saturday, October 20. The premiere is part of Red Velvet Ball Swings!, the St. Louis Symphony’s 4th Annual Gala. David and Thelma Steward are serving as this year’s Gala Chairs. “The Stewards are amazing people, both personally and through World Wide Technology,” Bronstein said. “They have been very supportive of the symphony before this event, but they really have taken this on as something they are really excited about.” Both Bronstein and Bradford are discrete about the Stewards’ financial support of their organizations, but the Stewards do put their philanthropy where their passions are.
Wyse Jackson hosted an appreciation luncheon in his honor at the Tenderloin Room. Dr. Williams’s family members’ wife Carol Williams and daughters Jeralyn James and Dianne Powell were on hand for the auspicious occasion. Governor Jay Nixon has appointed Paula D. Knight (SLPS) to the Coordinating Board for Early Childhood. A prestigious and well deserved appointment, the Missouri Coordinating Board for Early Childhood is the state’s public/ private entity for coordinating a cohesive system of early
“They have been generous,” Bronstein said, “but aside from that, their energy and enthusiasm has been infectious.” Bradford said he would “respectfully decline” to cite a figure for the Stewards’ support of Jazz St. Louis, “but it has been substantial.” Nearly as substantial, again, as Steward’s enthusiasm for bringing a major jazz figure to St. Louis. “I remember going to Dave’s office to talk about what we are doing with Jazz St. Louis, and he said, ‘Yeah, we have to do some things together,’” Bradford said. “We talked about different artists and people he might be interested in, and I had this dream to bring Sonny Rollins to St. Louis. When I mentioned Sonny Rollins, Dave’s face lit up and he said, ‘We’ve got to make that happen.’” They made it happen: They brought Rollins to the Touhill on September 19, 2009. As a result, Bradford witnessed a scene like Bronstein soon will
childhood programs and services. The board’s longterm goal will result in the healthy development of and high quality education for all Missouri children from birth through age five. Paula is an associate superintendent for the St. Louis Public School District. Her responsibilities include direct supervision of all elementary school principals as well as supervision of the Curriculum & Instruction and Early Childhood Education departments. Moving FORWARD: Afro World Hair and Fashion
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experience. “It was incredible to see Dave interact with Sonny,” Bradford said. “Dave has such great respect for Sonny, and he was very proud to be part of presenting him here in St. Louis. He really enjoyed having him here and was very excited to see him.” Bronstein surely will see this scene replayed between Steward and Marsalis at the gala. As much as that, however, the symphony president is looking forward to the musical experience that the Stewards’ support will have made possible in St. Louis. “The piece we doing, Swing Symphony, is a piece Wynton has done with a couple of orchestras, but it’s not widely done,” Bronstein said. “Wynton has played St. Louis over the years a number times, but for him to play with the symphony and do this piece will be really unique.” For tickets, call 314-5341700, visit www.stlsymphony. org or go to the box office at 718 N. Grand.
Company CEO Sheila Forrest asked us to remind all US citizens that it is in your best interest to practice your right to VOTE! Volunteers are welcome at Afro World and needed on Tuesdays from 6pm-8pm and Thursdays from 4pm-6pm. Sheila also encourages everyone to setup voter registration tables in or outside of your churches. Voter registration deadlines for the November 6th general election are October 10 (Missouri) and October 9 (Illinois). Afro World is located at 7276 Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis. Please call 314.389.5194 for additional information. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society sponsored its annual “Light the Night Walk” in Forest Park on Friday September 28. The nationwide annual events help to raise funds for lifesaving blood cancer research, free educational material for patients and their families, comprehensive assistance and family support. The St. Louis event has grown in corporate support, vendors and attendees/ walkers. Corporate sponsors included; Ameren, World Wide Technology, Mercy, Centene, Express Scripts, Siteman Cancer Center and others. Kudos to Veronica Stevenson (Wellcare) and her team who lit up the night with their enthusiasm. Executive Director Debbie Kersting and Campaign Coordinator Ebony Sherod were thrilled with this year’s numbers. Have a great week and Barack the Vote! Dana Grace dgrandolph@ live.com