St. Louis — Missouri is as fractious a state as you can get. It was a Republican “red” state in the presidential election of 2004, a Democratic “blue” state in the senatorial election in 2006. The folks north of the Missouri River have different politics from the folks south of that river. The legislators representing rural and small-town Missouri often vote differently than those representing urban and suburban residents.
But today, the Republican governor and the Democratic mayor of the state’s largest city declared Missouri and St. Louis to be ONE.
ONE, that is, in seeking to end global poverty by joining the international ONE Campaign, a coalition of more than 100 nonprofit, advocacy and humanitarian organizations to “make poverty history.”
St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay said that he and Missouri Gov Matt Blunt have stood on opposite sides in election politics but “we work on a lot of issues together.” This day, Slay joined Blunt, Republican organizer Jack Oliver and representatives of the academic community at a press conference at Washington University in St. Louis because “we have a common enemy: poverty.”
“All of us should be concerned,” Slay said, when fellow human beings don’t have access to clean water, the “basic essentials” of medical treatment or even enough food to stay alive.
The press conference was held in the Women’s Building of Washington University. Besides the media, the announcement attracted a smattering of students and faculty, church members and ONE volunteers, who handed out white plastic “ONE” bracelets and gathered signatures on the ONE Declaration, a commitment of “one person, one voice, one vote at a time – to make a better, safer world for all.”
Slay said it was appropriate to sign his proclamation declaring St. Louis a “City of ONE” on a university campus, because the issue of global poverty “is rallying students across the country to become more involved.” St. Louis became the second “City of ONE” in the state, following the lead of New Madrid in southeastern Missouri.
With Blunt’s proclamation, Missouri became the ninth “State of ONE.” Blunt praised Americans’ and Missourians’ “can-do attitude” and generosity in giving time and resources to humanitarian causes.
“Addressing poverty knows no political differences,” Blunt said. “We have a moral obligation to help those less fortunate.”
Blunt encouraged mayors across the state to follow the lead of Slay and New Madrid Mayor Donnie Brown, to declare their cities part of the ONE campaign.
With great fanfare, the two political leaders presented their signed proclamations to Stephanie Koh, a sophomore at WU and the president of the campus chapter of Alliance of Students Against Poverty.
ASAP “works to unite WU student groups, to raise awareness and increase involvement,” Koh said. The ONE campaign “will transform the hopes and future of an entire generation” by helping the people of Africa and other extremely poor nations address the AIDS epidemic, fight endemic malaria and make clean water accessible to all.
“Volunteeer at your local chapter, or start one,” Koh urged fellow students “from Seattle to Miami.”
What can ONE members do? Koh said it most succinctly:
• “Engage candidates” in a discussion of how to address global poverty and its attending problems of disease and lack of access to the basics of life.
• “Lobby Congress” to appropriate funds for global efforts and national programs.
• “Sign the declaration,” going on record as a voter and citizen in favor of ONE’s efforts.