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Editor's weekly: Why this project?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 8, 2009 - From the beginning, we at the Beacon have taken race as a central challenge.

Those of us who’ve reported for decades on our region’s ups and downs know that race weaves through every important issue here. Yet problems related to race elude straightforward discussion and confound solution.

People feel that we’ve been having the same old conversation for years, yet paradoxically that we’ve never really had a full conversation at all. Race, Frankly is an unusual, yearlong attempt to change the old dynamic.

In this effort, we’re working in partnership with the Missouri History Museum and KETC Channel 9. The History Museum’s upcoming exhibition, "RACE: Are We So Different?," will begin in January and was part of the inspiration for our project. Together, the partners will generate a series of events as well as in-depth articles and video pieces that focus on issues of race and discrimination in our region.

At the Beacon, our reporting will focus primarily on progress toward ending disparities and embracing diversity. We’ll also look forthrightly at the stumbling blocks that remain, how we got to this point and how to keep moving forward. We hope this coverage will spark a sustained community discussion that is respectful, candid and useful.

Each month, we’ll explore another important facet of race – how it affects education, jobs, housing, health, personal relationships, politics and so on. You’ll notice a pattern to the work, with each month’s coverage including an in-depth report, several personal perspectives and content contributed by people from throughout the community. We’ll also have monthly events, ranging from receptions to panel discussions to performances – all intended to provide insights that go beyond conventional reporting. The first of these will be July 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the History Museum. We hope you will join us there for this inaugural event.

Discussions related to race can sometimes bring out the worst in people. But we expect Race, Frankly to encourage the best. As the project unfolds, you’ll find many opportunities to share your perspectives and to learn from the perspectives of others. We welcome your involvement and suggestions as we embark together on this ambitious journey.


Margaret Wolf Freivogel

Beacon Editor