Kinloch is a town on life support, with fewer than 200 citizens still residing in the area, a budget flirting with bankruptcy, and corruption sometimes appearing to be the main job description for local officials. This once-thriving municipality — the oldest all-Black city west of the Mississippi and known as Missouri’s First Black City — often seems only a few sunsets away from extinction. To drive through Kinloch today is to see despair and dilapidation, but it was once a town where Black entrepreneurship was the rule, not the exception; a place that such important figures as Dick Gregory, Jenifer Lewis, and Maxine Waters called home. Located next to the now-infamous Ferguson and on the outskirts of the city of St. Louis — nationally known for its segregation — Kinloch contains a wealth of history that explains how racial division has manifested for decades. An expansion of a short documentary that screened at the 2018 Showcase and SLIFF, “The Kinloch Doc” explores how two major political decisions — a city merger and the Lambert Airport buyout — essentially destroyed the community. Directed by a former resident of the city, the film tells the story of Kinloch through interviews with scholars and, most tellingly, former and current residents and city officials.
Daniel E. Williams
Jacqueline Williams, a former resident of Kinloch — the first and largest all-Black incorporated city in Missouri — shares her personal memories of being raised in this suburb of St. Louis.