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Veiled Prophet: Symbol of wealth, power and, to some, racism

Veiled Prophet: Symbol of wealth, power and, to some, racism

Since 1878, the Veiled Prophet has visited St. Louis, gracing the city's debutantes with a grand ball and parade.

The details have changed over the decades: the ball was once held in the fall, the parade used to be on the day of the party. But the prophet's identity is still kept a secret, and his presence still stirs controversy.

The organization was co-founded by former Confederate officer Alonzo Slayback. The ball met with protests in the 1970s and in recent years as well. It had to move from a city-owned auditorium over allegations of racism. The members of the organization didn't include any black men until 1979. 

The prophet crowns a queen every year; their last names include Kemper, Busch, Danforth, Schnuck, Schlafly, Chouteau, Cabanne, Niedringhaus, Desloge and other historic St. Louis families.

The Veiled Prophet Organization still holds a parade, and funds Fair St. Louis to celebrate Independence Day. 

— Compiled by Beth O'Malley, bomalley@post-dispatch.com

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