THE Veiled Prophet Ball is an annual event that has taken place in St Louis for more than 100 years.
Originally formed as an exclusive event for the city’s upper class, it is now celebrated by thousands.
What is the Veiled Prophet Ball?
The Veiled Prophet Ball is an annual ball held every December in St Louis, Missouri.
According to a 2014 article in The Atlantic, the event was formed in 1878 by Confederate Colonel Alonzo Slayback and his brother Charles Slayback.
They held an elaborate festivals and rituals for an exclusive group of people invited.
It featured one unknown member each year who was secretly dressed as the 'veiled prophet', which was meant to generate interest in the event and St Louis as a city.
The now renamed event is still held on the Friday before Christmas each year and is attended by thousands.
The event has given the platform for protest groups such as Black Lives Matter Members, and the St. Louis based group Missourians Organized for Reform and Empowerment in more recent years.
How are The Prophet and The Queen selected?
Traditionally the anonymous person playing the role of the “Veiled Prophet” at each ball was chosen by local elites.
It is not officially known how they come to such a decision although there have been suggestions that the Veiled Prophet is the richest man in St. Louis of a given year, or the man that donates the most money to the organization that year.
Once selected, the “veiled prophet” would then be able to choose the Queen of Love and Beauty.
Queens include the daughters of the most influential members of the organization.
In 1999, actress Ellie Kemper was awarded the title and there is no suggestion of any connection between her and any controversial comments made about the event.
What's the controversy around the Veiled Prophet Ball?
According to The Atlantic, the debutante ball was founded by wealthy White elites back in 1878 and “emphasized the existing power structure.”
It continued like this for many years with historians citing how the event was put on as a spectacle to “reassure the city’s elite of the exclusive status” and therefore excluded other people.
This included racial segregation, with reports suggesting that Black members were also not allowed into the organization until 1979.
The event was therefore considered ‘white only’ for more than 100 years.
As a result, some people have even made comparisons to the KKK, emphasized by the prophet’s early clothing in the late 1800s which strikes a resemblance to the attire of the white supremacy group.
However, it has been pointed out that KKK members did not begin wearing white hoods and robes until 1915, with no affiliation known.
The event significantly changed in 1992 when the VP Fair was renamed to Fair St. Louis, removing all reference to the Veiled Prophet in the Fair's name.
What is the KKK?
The Ku Klux Klan (or the KKK) is an extremist hate group that believes all non-Caucasian people are inferior to them.
The group believes that America should be a nation that is free from drugs, homosexuality and immigration.
Claiming to have extreme pride in their nation, they say that they are building a better society for everyone – arguing on their website that they are a group not of hate but of love.
Historically, black Americans have been the KKK's main target – but more recently it has targeted Jews, immigrants, LGBT people and even Catholics.
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