ST LOUIS, Mo. (AP) — A black state lawmaker will hold a do-over Friday after a social media backlash over ribbon-cutting photos from the revitalized Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis that included only white people.
Democratic state Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. said Thursday on Facebook Live that the image wasn’t reflective of the city he represents. He proposed a new photo with black leaders, and scheduled a new ribbon cutting for noon Friday.
“We want to show what St. Louis really looks like tomorrow,” he said.
Just over 200 people had RSVP’d for Franks’ event on Facebook as of Thursday afternoon.
The photos from the dedication featured more than a dozen people, including Republican Gov. Mike Parson and U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, and Roy Blunt, a Republican.
The Gateway Arch Park Foundation apologized in a statement Wednesday.
“As organizers of the event, we acknowledge that our ribbon cutting did not reflect the diversity of our community.”
A foundation spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a question of whether any black leaders had been invited.
The city is almost 48 percent black, according to data from the U.S. Census, larger than any other racial group.
The park was dedicated Tuesday, the culmination of a five-year, $380 million renovation that Missouri political leaders see as a template for the future of the national park system. It was the first major renovation since the Arch opened in 1965, and about two-thirds of the funding came from private donations.
The 630-foot-tall (192-meter-tall) Arch is a monument to westward expansion that sits along the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis.