Located on the nation’s most important interior waterway, St. Louis is at once a borderland, a commercial hub, a major point of transit, and a space of confluence and division. St. Louis is our home, and its complicated history and present-day context shape our work and experiences in the Sam Fox School. Our city faces challenges that are present across the United States, but it is vital to confront the historical roots of St. Louis’ specific legacies of racism, sexism, displacement, exclusion, and political division.
The consequences of institutionally sanctioned displacement and exclusion in St. Louis are felt in everyday inequities: in healthcare, education, nutrition, housing, public safety, the legal system, and other basic human rights. They are made manifest in events that make national headlines and in subtler, everyday offenses that escape public scrutiny. The Sam Fox School is committed to working with individuals, organizations, governments, and communities in the St. Louis region through our research, teaching, and practice to address these pressing issues.
As a place-based learning environment, it is important for us to understand how history has shaped our present context. Key events that occurred in this place include: the departure of Lewis and Clark, the Missouri Compromise, the Dred Scott trial, the 1904 World’s Fair and Olympics, women’s suffrage, Pruitt-Igoe’s construction and demolition, immigration, the Ferguson uprising, and more.
It is also important to acknowledge and recognize, with respect, that the land we are on today is the ancestral homeland of several native populations, including the Mississippian mound-building culture, and, later, the Osage and the Illini, whose populations were forced out and destroyed in the 18th and 19th centuries by settler colonialism. We also acknowledge the land we are on is embroiled with the history of enslaved peoples. This acknowledgment embodies the Sam Fox School’s commitment to continue learning and understanding our institutional and local history.