The Destruction of a Black Community in North County St Louis
The city of Kinloch was once a thriving all-black community as this small city located in North County St Louis has been called the oldest black community west of the Mississippi.
Kinloch MO was once a bi-racial community with white and black families living together in this small St. Louis County city, before the 1930s.**
When Kinloch’s black residents pushed for a high school for the city’s black children, Kinloch’s white citizens became quite upset with the idea of building a new school as they have been trying to split the district among racial lines.**
This led to the creation of the city of Berkeley, Missouri during the late 1930s, even though the city of Berkeley would become predominantly African-American by the 1970s.**
Eventually, during the 1970s, the city of Kinloch’s school district became part of the Ferguson-Florissant school district along with Berkeley.**
While Kinloch MO is the most known historic all-black community in St. Louis County, it was not the only one as there were all-black communities in Meacham Park, Robertson, and Webster Groves.
Robertson dated back to the 1800s while being the home to former slaves and by the early 1900s many black families moved into an area that was originally a rural farm community.**
The community of Robertson, which was once near the cities of Hazelwood and Bridgeton, has since been demolished with the airport expansion buying out the community Robertson, leaving the entire neighborhood vacant.
Meacham Park, a small community in West St. Louis County along Big Bend Road, has been part of St. Louis’ black community since the early 1900s.**
During the 1990s, the community of Meacham Park became annexed into the city of Kirkwood, which changed the area into what it is today.**
Many people felt misused by the city of Kirkwood as much of the community became strip malls and shopping centers, while the main purpose of joining the city of Kirkwood was hoping they would receive benefits that could provide support to the community.
Meacham Park is currently the only original black community that is still around, even though Kinloch MO is officially still a running city its appearance presents the city as if it is not functioning.
After the airport expansion buyout, which begun during the 1980s, the majority of the houses were demolished down to their foundation, only leaving low-income housing complexes within the area.
The destruction of the community led to a displacement of residents as the people of Kinloch relocated to different communities throughout North County St Louis.
North St. Louis County was once where all the white families moved to when they decided to leave the city of St. Louis for suburban neighborhoods in the county.
Before the 1970s, African-Americans only lived in Kinloch and Robertson, but during the 1970s neighborhoods like Berkeley or Hathaway North in Black Jack started becoming all-black communities.
From the 1980s and into the 2000s, apartment complexes helped changed the racial makeup of North County St Louis, as most of North County’s apartment complexes were in areas between Parker Road and Lucas-Hunt.
The apartment complexes led to white families to move to different parts of the county, due to several reasons, whether it was a fear of crime, property values decreasing, or not wanting to be around black residents.
By the 2000s, North County, which was predominantly white before the 1980s, became predominantly African-American, with exception to the cities of Florissant, Hazelwood, and parts of Ferguson.
With nothing left in Kinloch, the small town became haven for the streets of St. Louis with very little police presence.
In the 1980s and 1990s the rise Blood and Crip gangs in St. Louis spread from community to community as the city of Kinloch was one of the few areas in North St Louis County to become affiliated.
While there was Rollin 60s Crips in Berkeley and in the Ten Dubb section of Jennings, the only two Crip ‘hoods in North St Louis County, the city of Kinloch became the only Blood area in North County.
During the days of the Food Stamp Gangstas and the 57 Kinloch Bloods, the town of Kinloch gained its own reputation in the streets of St. Louis, especially with infamous housing projects on Lurch and Mable.
While the community saw much destruction with the demolishing of properties throughout the community, the rise of corruption in the small town led to multiple indictments and convictions.
From mayors to other public officials of Kinloch, the city of Kinloch has often been broadcast for corruption, whether it was the misuse of public funds for personal expenses or more serious crimes that led to federal convictions.
Even though there is a working fire department in Kinloch, much of the city is barely functioning as a typical city would run.
Currently, the city of Kinloch is transforming as the once public housing complex on Mable has become the Suburban Heights apartments for nearby students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
While there was once around four or five housing complexes in Kinloch, only one is left, a small complex on Suburban that has numerous vacant units, as today’s Kinloch is wasteland and often used as a local dump site.
Kinloch’s transformation is slowly turning the city into an industrial park as large warehouses as taking over a large portion of this once historic community.
The airport expansion, which never really happened, did destroy other communities like Berkeley’s Brownleigh subdivision, Kinloch was affected the worse as this once thriving all-black community is a shell of itself.
Currently, with the gentrification in the city of St. Louis, the older black communities of North St. Louis are declining with a lack of upkeep and the vacant housing crisis in the city more people are moving and relocating into North County.
The move further into St. Louis County is having middle-class black families to relocate into St. Charles County or parts of West St. Louis County, especially black families that were the first to move into St. Louis County during the 80s and 90s.
With the city of St. Louis changing, North St. Louis County is slowly declining as most of the shopping areas, restaurants, and other businesses have either gone elsewhere or went out of business.
Towns in St. Louis County, especially ones that are next to the city-county line, are becoming dilapidated, apartment complexes along West Florissant and in Spanish Lake are becoming the modern-day housing projects, and the lack of businesses outside of liquor and convenient stores is needed.
Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.
**Kinloch MO and St Louis North County History Sources:
Wright, John. “Discovering African American St. Louis: A Guide to Historic Sites”. Missouri Historical Society Press, 2002
Wright, John. “Kinloch: Missouri’s First Black Community”. Arcadia Publishing, 2000
Wright, John. “St. Louis: Disappearing Black Communities”. Arcadia Publishing, 2004