ST. LOUIS — St. Louis-native Ellie Kemper is trending on Twitter, and it’s not because she has a new project. It’s because of her connection to the Veiled Prophets and the group’s controversial past.
Over the weekend, Twitter users reportedly came across a 2014 article from The Atlantic, which took a look at the Veiled Prophets. The article says the group’s first parade “emphasized the existing power structure” of the city when it first debuted. Other publications report that the group is a celebration among the wealthy and elite in St. Louis.
The group names a Queen of Love and Beauty each year. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Kemper was crowned the Queen of Love and Beauty at the Veiled Prophet Ball in 1999, when she was 18 or 19 years old.
Kemper was born in Kansas City. She moved to St. Louis as a child. Her name comes from the Kemper family, as in the same family who donated to the previously-named Kemper Arena.
Twitter users have been commenting on the connection, some alleging white supremacy ties. These allegations have not been independently confirmed.
The controversy has caused her name to trend.
The Post-Dispatch also wrote an article in 2019 titled: Veiled Prophet: Symbol of wealth, power, and to some, racism. It reported the ball was met with protests in the 1970s and in recent years as well. It also had to move from a city-owned auditorium over allegations of racism. The organization didn’t include any black men until 1979.
The City of St. Louis’ website has this information about The Veiled Prophet:
Created in 1878 by white male community leaders, the Mystic Order of the Veiled Prophet of the Enchanted Realm sought to recreate the Mardi Gras type of community-wide celebration. This gala came to include pageantry, costumes, and a parade with floats. It officially unveiled its first “Queen of Love and Beauty,” or the VP Queen, and the Veiled Prophet Ball in 1878. The VP Fair on the riverfront started in 1979, and became Fair St. Louis in 1995. The traditional VP celebration has represented for St. Louisans a perceived link between different components of the community in a holiday celebration, while also reinforcing the notion of a benevolent cultural elite.St. Louis City Website
The VP foundation, the charitable arm of the organization, says it works to make St. Louis a better place to live for all.
The balls continue to be held in December and organizers are already working on plans for the 138th parade this Fourth of July.