David Dwight IV hopes St. Louis learns to listen to young leadership
In 2014, the killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer gripped the region — and the country. It led to months of protests and compelled many St. Louisans to seek out ways to continue their activism around racial profiling and police brutality.
One such activist, David Dwight IV, got involved in the movement while a student at Washington University. The path eventually led him to work for the Ferguson Commission. In 2019, Dwight became the executive director and lead strategy catalyst of Forward Through Ferguson, the organization born out of the Ferguson Commission’s report and whose goal was to create lasting change around racial strife and inequality.
Now, Dwight is closing that chapter. Dwight is leaving his post as executive director of Forward Through Ferguson at the end of March. In a Medium post he published late last month, he outlined a number of reflections he has had while making the decision to move on from the organization. Along with recognizing the mentors and supporters he has met over the past eight years, Dwight wrote candidly about his concerns for the region, including his worry that a sense of traditionalism is pushing young leadership away from organizations and from the region.
“There is, sadly, a trend that sometimes happens with young people in St. Louis that have a passion and a vision for this place. Sometimes they end up leaving,” Dwight said on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air.
In 2015, after a year of community town halls and commission meetings, the Ferguson Commission identified four signature priorities, which include focusing on youth in policy change. In Dwight’s opinion, St. Louis has nothing but room for improvement in this area.
“Some of my proudest campaigns that I've been able to be part of have been around youth policy change, like changing out-of-school suspension rates for schools across the region,” he said. “And I do think that St. Louis will continue to limit itself if it doesn't change its attitude.”
Editor’s note: In our February 10 conversation, guest David Dwight IV said police murdered Michael Brown. Michael Brown was killed by police officer Darren Wilson, but a local grand jury did not indict him on murder charges. The Department of Justice defines the charge of murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being with malice.” Many in the St. Louis region and beyond say Michael Brown was murdered because they believe his killing was unjustified and inhumane despite a grand jury's determination and the Department of Justice's report that found Wilson's killing of Brown lacked prosecutive merit.
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.