Missouri’s Republican governor pledged Tuesday in Jefferson City to work with the NAACP to improve the lives of African-Americans, even when the group disagrees with him on some issues.
Governor Eric Greitens was the keynote speaker at the St. Louis County NAACP legislative day at the Statehouse.
Greitens emphasizes jobs, justice, public safety and education, saying African-Americans are hurting.
“This is a common mission that can bring us together. And the fact is today and for too long, Missouri has not done a good enough job of meeting that mission, especially for African-American young people,” Greitens says, as the audience of about 100 applauded.
Greitens says today’s unemployment rate in many Missouri African-American communities for young men is 40 percent higher than in other communities.
He supports education reform and charter schools, saying they are important for the success of African-American students.
Greitens tells the audience he respectfully disagrees with the national NAACP on charter schools. Greitens says they support a moratorium on charter schools.
State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) introduced Greitens, describing him as a “man of integrity”.
Greitens notes Tuesday was military appreciation day, and emphasizes the contribution of the NAACP and African-Americans to our nation’s military.
“In 1914, the NAACP pushed its members and African-Americans around the country to register for military service,” Greitens says. “It was a chairman of the NAACP, Joel Spingarn, who pushed for an officers’ training camp for African-American leaders.”
Greitens says because of the NAACP’s work, 639 African-American men were commissioned as military officers, for the first time in American history. That was about the time of World War I.
Greitens tells the audience that the U.S. military “is the most well-integrated large institution in the history of the planet.”
He praises the NAACP and emphasizes the importance of jobs, justice, public safety and education.
Governor Greitens did express frustration with the Capitol Press Corps in Jefferson City, saying some reporters write stories that promote conflict.
“Nobody (the media) is going to write a story about how Senator Nasheed and I are working together, or how Senator (Kiki) Curls (D-Kansas City) has given my administration names and recommendations for positions. Nobody is writing about the work that we’re doing with the Black Legislative Caucus to advance issues that are important to all Missourians,” says Greitens.
Other Tuesday speakers included State Auditor Nicole Galloway (D), House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff), State Rep. Alan Green (D-Florissant), Missouri Restaurant Association President Bob Bonney and former State Rep. Esther Haywood (D-Northwoods).
Rep. Green is the chairman of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus and Esther Haywood is the St. Louis County NAACP President.
Attorney Jane Dueker, who’s also a talk show host at KMOX Radio (AM 1120) in St. Louis, served as “mistress of ceremonies”.
The Normandy High School Chorale performed in the Capitol Rotunda, singing “America the Beautiful” and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”.