A Letter from Richard D. Baron, Our Chairman, to Our Community
June 8, 2020 | McCormack Baron Salazar
To the McCormack Baron Community,
I co-founded McCormack Baron Salazar in 1973 with the express purpose of working in underserved areas of St. Louis. My experiences as a Legal Services attorney working with hundreds of clients taught me about the effects of systemic racism that was and still is a part of the culture of St. Louis. Black Lives mattered then, and Black Lives matter now.
I witnessed the plight of public housing residents forced to live in deplorable conditions, the unchecked brutality of the St. Louis Police Department who often beat, and in several cases killed suspects, the underfunded condition of the St. Louis public schools, cases in Ferguson with Blacks being stopped by police in speed traps for collection of fines (long before the tragic death of Michael Brown), the tragedy of young children living in wretched housing suffering from lead paint poisoning, non-existent health care, and the persistent practice of job and housing discrimination that was common practice throughout the private sector. I have seen it all in 50 years.
Our company has been committed to addressing and reversing the legacy of these policies by investing in our neighborhoods and supporting the work of Urban Strategies. We had 3 people when we started the company and we have 800 now, and we have always embraced one another to stand together in our fight against the forces of injustice and racism. We will continue to do so.
The tragic loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery has galvanized the citizens of this country to recognize, at long last, the profound racism that exists in this country. Racism has paralyzed us from ending income inequality, from properly providing equal education for all, from creating a national housing policy, from providing decent health care for every citizen, from establishing a program of national infrastructure to create jobs and from ending the environmental pollution that disproportionately affects communities of color throughout the country.
It is time for the power structure, as Reverend Sharpton said last week, to get its “knee off the neck” of Black and Brown communities in this nation.
We are leading the transformation in our neighborhoods. With you, we continue to do incredibly hard work to achieve our successes along with Urban Strategies. With you, even though our work is difficult, we have always believed that we can change the system. With you, even though we are hurting, we make a difference in how we live our personal and professional lives.
I am so proud to stand with you as we do the hard work for our families.
The rate of change and its trajectory depends on all of us; we must never be complicit in the silence. Remember to help our families register and remember: vote in every election. The time is now!
Richard D. Baron