By Adolphus M. Pruitt, II
If you were to take a strode down Missouri’s memory lane you would find that the first African-American to be elected to Missouri’s legislature was Walthall M. Moore, Sr. of St. Louis City’s 3rd District in1921; his District was overwhelmingly white. He was a Postal Clerk and a Republican, and served in the 51st, 53rd, 54th, and 55th General Assemblies.
It took another 39-years before the first African-American was elected to Missouri’s State Senate, Theodore McNeal of St. Louis was elected State Senator in 1960.
The irony of this conversation is the fact that 97-years after electing the first African-American to the Missouri House of Representatives we still have yet to elect, nor have appointed, an African-American to serve in our State’s Executive Branch as a statewide elected official. And according to an analysis by the Associated Press, Missouri is one of the few states with such a distinction.
Mark Sawyer, director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Politics at UCLA, has previously stated “progress for minorities on the statewide level has stalled since a wave of moderate, black officials was elected in the 1980s” – that wave must have missed Missouri. According to Sawyer, “statewide elected officials often climb the political ladder after first getting elected to local offices” and “white candidates are more likely than minorities to follow that pipeline.”
We have all witnessed the fact that African-American candidates are more successful in the State’s urban centers (African-American strongholds), but such has not resulted in a transition to a statewide job.
But, after 97-years, since the first African-American was elected to the Missouri Legislature, there’s an opportunity for our Governor to move Missouri forward with the appointment of State Representative Shamed Dogan as State Treasurer.
Representative Dogan is a Republican member of the Missouri House of Representatives, representing the 98th District in St. Louis County, and was elected to his first two-year term in November 2014, and re-elected every since. Dolan’s qualifications as a public servant, and his fair & balanced approach representing all Missourians regardless of race and gender, rural or urban has earned him the titled as statesmen. And his qualifications are impeccable; he’s a graduate of Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School, a graduate from Yale University in political science and philosophy. He has worked for the Black America’s Political Action Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee; and served as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Jim Talent, helping write federal “Pass with Care” legislation and advising on issues including transportation, immigration, and energy issues. His Republican credentials are solid, as the prior deputy coalitions director of the Missouri Republican Party, and as an alderman representing Ballwin’s 2nd Ward. He is currently the only black Republican serving in the Missouri state legislature and lives in Ballwin with his wife Sara and their two children. He is a board member for the Epworth Children & Family Services and former board member of the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri & Kansas, the St. Louis Area Young Republicans, and the West St. Louis County Jaycees. He should be our next State Treasurer, the Governor should make history.
Adolphus M. Pruitt, II, is the President St. Louis City NAACP