The Veiled Prophet of Saint Louis

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Is there a way to rehabilitate such institutions or should we do away with them? The cry from justice from young black folks marching in Ferguson has never been clearer. There have actually been hundreds of white people across the city who have heard the cry and are now participating in organizing and movement work. Indeed, a lot of people involved in the UnveilTheProfit week of action are white people who are committed to anti-racism and believe it is important for white people to use their privilege to intervene with the overwhelmingly white St.

White people have a huge role to play in ending white supremacy — in talking to family members and in ending racist institutions like the VP org.

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It is the role of anti-racist white people in orgs like the VP to talk to other white people and organize to end racist institutions that are upholding white supremacy. These organizations are oppressive in their foundations, and reform will just cover that up. If people inside the organization are just realizing that the organization is part of this system, then they need to pick a side.

Continued participation with the group is perpetuating these systems of oppression. Because silence is violence, members of VP or people who have benefited off of oppressive systems can engage in addressing the system in their own circles. There are many resources on how to do this work online. DB: Do you know of similar efforts in other cities to look at the power behind the police?


  1. The Uneasy Past of the Veiled Prophet Organization | Common Reader?
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Occupy obviously started doing some of this work. In a way, this is a continuation of Occupy, but with racial justice at the center of the work. MG: We will be continuing to add to our list of the St. The list is going to be organized by category.


  • The Uneasy Past of the Veiled Prophet Organization: Part II | Common Reader.
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  • In the coming weeks, we will add these people to our list. There will be actions tied to the launch of each new category of people. Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and the co-founder of Know Your IX, the national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's also a student at Yale Law School, and you can find her on Twitter at danabolger.

    Feministing is a labor of love and all our staff have other full-time jobs to support their work on the site. Your donation is much appreciated, and much needed. The complaints describe horrifying sexual harassment and assault by This past weekend in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, dozens of police assaulted and arrested community members holding an anti-racist canned food drive and potluck on the campus of the University of North Carolina.


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    • The community potluck was a response to the wave of right-wing backlash since a racist Jim Crow-era confederate statue on the campus was finally toppled three weeks ago. This past weekend in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, dozens of police assaulted and arrested community members holding an anti-racist canned food drive and potluck. Dana Bolger Dana Bolger. We need your help! Donate Now. Join the Conversation.

      Veiled Prophet Parade in St. Louis, July 4, 2014

      Organized by the. Maybe the original VPs never fully understood the story of Mokanna, the veiled brute. Maybe they purposefully took the elements they liked—the spectacle, the exoticism—in order to create a mystical and mysterious symbol that could cloak their wealth in moral good.

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      Louis, which I discuss below. Either way, years later, the VPO remains, and its success and survival is, much like Confederate monuments across the United States, the result of intersecting race, class, and gender-based ideologies that kept the image of power in St. Louis within a select cadre of men. Assuming neither the original VPs nor the current VPs intended to associate themselves with a hideous and degenerate rapist, the connection between the St. In it, the Veiled Prophet, wearing an all-white gown, pointed hat, and mask, stands with a pistol and two shotguns. This image was a short-lived representation of the Veiled Prophet, and based on my research, the VP never appeared armed in a parade or at a ball.

      The second Veiled Prophet image , from , and current photos of the Veiled Prophet look more like a cross between a Norse God and the Pope—imagery with fairly obvious connections to whiteness, but that are ostensibly more linked to benevolent forms of power. It is difficult not to immediately link the image with that of a Klansman; however, the Klan did not develop the uniform of white robes and hoods until its revival period beginning in inspired by the film The Birth of the Nation , nearly 40 years after the initial woodcut of the Veiled Prophet.

      The Mystery of St. Louis's Veiled Prophet

      The first image of the armed VP may have suited the initial VP members, who sought to create a visible manifestation of their control over the city. Spencer argues that in addition to attempting to boost trade on the Mississippi and reclaim St. Spencer writes that VP members were likely compelled by the Railroad Strike of to re-institute class hierarchy by demonstrating the power and opulence of the wealthiest and most prominent businessmen in the city, putting working-class strikers in their place.

      Louis in ; this strike inspired workers across industries to protest for an 8-hour workday, and a ban on child labor. The strike ended after 3, federal troops and 5, deputized special police forced the strikers to disassemble, during which time 18 strikers were killed. The first Veiled Prophet, and the only prophet to be willingly revealed, was St. Louis Police Commissioner John G. Put another way, when working-class St. Louisans took strides to earn more money, achieve upward mobility, and attain a measure of the relationship between wealth and morality propagated by the VPO, it was the members of the VPO who put a stop to it.

      According to the myth, the Veiled Prophet is a mystical traveler from the ambiguous East who decided to establish St. Louis as a beautiful city. The fact that St. Louis was chosen was meant to be indicative of its worth and value as a city based in the grand traditions of the Old World, but prepared to progress to the New World.

      Veiled Prophet Ball - Wikipedia

      As Spencer explains, for members of the VP, progressing to the New World meant success in industry and the wealth that ultimately followed. Each float demonstrated the evolution of mankind from its beginnings to when the VP designated St. Louis as his second home.

      The second-to-last float was titled Wealth, and on it sat Minerva, goddess of wisdom and protectress of industrial arts, upon a huge silver dollar. Spencer argues that such imagery was a clear reminder for parade-goers, who represented St. To be worthy, one must be industrious. Consequently, their workers or subordinates who lacked wealth must have been neither wise nor worthy Make no mistake: the VP was a socially exclusive club that saw its members as the fathers of St.

      As the group developed through the 20th century, Spencer explained to The Riverfront Times in that the same families remained part of the group and maintained their hold on the monopoly of power in St. In an attempt to again rejuvenate St. Louis, using only the initials and not the full name.