March for Our Lives. St. Louis, Missouri
March for Our Lives. St. Louis, Missouri
Rachel Simon-Lee. For We Live Here’s Black Girl Magic bonus episode.
When Anjali Adhikari and Niah Ester teamed up for a class project last summer, they had one goal – to teach educators at Northeast Middle School all about microaggressions.
The seventh graders never imagined their work would make it from their Creve Coeur school into classrooms across the St. Louis region. But since then, they’ve created and led training sessions for dozens of teachers, counselors and school administrators.
Their mission is personal. The students are often on the receiving end of microaggressions – comments or questions, usually delivered casually, that insult people and reinforce negative stereotypes.
Because the comments often come from adults, the 12-year-olds developed activities to help their teachers recognize and address microaggressions.
“If a teacher says something kind of derogatory to a student, that’s gonna stay in their mind,” Niah said. “That’s gonna affect them for the rest of their lives.”
When the letter from immigration officials came in the mail in September, Carly Garcia knew her life was about to change.
Panicked, she opened the envelope then called her husband, Alex, and told him to rush home.
In the past, immigration agents had given Alex Garcia temporary permission to live in the United States with Carly and their five children. But now, the letter said, he had two weeks to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office for deportation.
From their home in Poplar Bluff, in southeast Missouri, Carly Garcia made a frantic call to an attorney, who put her in touch with immigration activists. They told her Alex had two options.
He could do as immigration officials had ordered and report to an ICE office to be jailed and sent back to the Honduran countryside he left nearly two decades ago. Or he could seek sanctuary in a church.
A protester stands outside the Thomas F. Eagleton federal courthouse in downtown St. Louis as Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers a tough-on-crime message to local law enforcement leaders in March.
Demonstrators observe a moment of silence for Anthony Lamar Smith after attending a forum at Harris-Stowe State University in October. The panel discussion at the historically black university – billed as a conversation on how to transfer the energy and momentum of protests into policy – left many attendees frustrated and disappointed.
Documentary filmmaker Chris Phillips lies on the ground after police sprayed chemical agents into a crowd of people protesting conditions inside St. Louis’ Medium Security Institution, also known as the Workhouse. People inside the jail – most awaiting trial and unable to afford bail – were being held without air conditioning as temperatures soared above 100 degrees in July.
A protester receives help from a street medic after St. Louis police officers sprayed chemical agents outside Busch Stadium on the fourteenth night of protests following the acquittal of former officer Jason Stockley. On this night, police also shot activist Calvin “Cap” Kennedy with a Taser and arrested the Rev. Darryl Gray.
At a vigil marking three years since Mike Brown was killed by a Ferguson police officer, people honored the lives of Darren Seals and Edward Crawford. Both men, whose photos were framed and set down on Canfield Drive, were well-known Ferguson activists. Seals was found shot dead inside a burning car in 2016. Crawford died in May from a gunshot police say was self-inflicted.
Brendan Koch, of Arnold, Missouri, visits the Confederate Memorial in Forest Park in June after crews hauled away the top piece of the monument. The statue, which went up 49 years after the Civil War ended as part of a national effort to redefine the Confederacy, came down this summer.
As protesters from the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church gathered at Busch Stadium in August to denounce the St. Louis Cardinals’ first Pride Night, counterprotesters – including Amber Whitaker – chased away a man who said he was with the website InfoWars.
Mel Moffitt glares at St. Louis police officers, who lined up along the outer fence of the Workhouse as protesters demonstrated against conditions inside the city jail during a July heatwave.
Protesters gathered for a vigil outside the home of Kiwi Herring, a black transgender woman shot and killed by St. Louis police in August. At the second of two vigils following Herring’s death, speakers urged people to remember and honor Herring and continue the long fight against transphobia.
Lyda Krewson waves to attendees after taking the oath of office to become the 46th mayor of St. Louis at a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall in April. Krewson became St. Louis’ first woman mayor.
People walk past police cars with their hands up while protesting the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, who killed Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. Several hundred protesters gathered to demonstrate in the Central West End on Sept. 16, after St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson found Stockley – charged with first-degree murder – not guilty.
ST. LOUIS, Missouri – Jose Garcia and his partner, Ana Ortiz, shuffled quietly into the warmth of a packed Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Ferguson.
Their older daughters, Julissa, 11, and Dana, 7, disappeared into the pews looking for friends. Garcia picked up 5-year-old Amanda and rocked her in his arms.
For more than a decade, Garcia attended Sunday Mass with his family. But this November morning was different.
The next day, he would board a flight with a one-way ticket to Mexico City.
He told his daughters that he needed to visit his mother in the city where he was born, and that he’d be back soon. The truth was he was being deported. He didn’t know if he’d ever return.
Under the Obama administration, immigration authorities allowed many unauthorized immigrants to stay in the United States with their families as long as they checked in regularly and didn’t break any laws. Now, advocates say, those who have spent years following the rules set out for them have become the easiest targets for deportation under the Trump administration.
Long International Middle School students watch the total solar eclipse from their schoolyard. Students at Long, one of St. Louis' southernmost public schools, got to experience a full minute of totality.
"Approaching puberty is alarming for transgender kids like Mazy. To them, the changes can feel like like a betrayal of who they really are." Listen to Mazy talk about facing puberty over at stlpublicradio.org
Progressive AME Zion Church. Hamilton Heights, St. Louis
As temperatures topped 100 degrees, people gathered at the St. Louis Workhouse to protest conditions inside the medium-security jail, which has no air conditioning. “Virtually every single person suffering inside the Workhouse right now is innocent under the law yet being punished because of poverty,” said Thomas Harvey of Arch City Defenders, a legal aid group that has been working with activists to raise money to bail people out.
For my first solo radio piece, I spoke with Mya Petty about school desegregation, attending a mostly white school district and dismantling everything –
Since second grade, Mya Petty has taken an hour-long bus ride from Baden, her mostly-black north St. Louis neighborhood, to Chesterfield – where most of her classmates were white.
The recently graduated 18-year-old is one of thousands of students in St. Louis’ long-running school desegregation program, Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation. Last year, administrators voted to bring the decades-long program to a close.
Petty is grateful for the education she received in the Parkway School District and will attend Saint Louis University in in August. However, leaving her neighborhood every day for 11 years to receive a quality education has her questioning the stark inequalities in both the public school system and the entire region.
Friends, family and fans gathered to remember rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry at The Pageant on Delmar Blvd.
Residents and volunteer work to clean up homes the morning after a tornado tore through Perryville, Missouri.
Demonstrators gather outside Senator Roy Blunt's downtown Clayton office on Feb. 1, 2017 to show support for immigrants and refugees and protest Blunt's defense of President Trump's executive order banning travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries.
Jumira Moore, 8, watches as her mother, Timira Saunders, fills out a ballot at Central Baptist Church in St. Louis on election day.
A few from the past couple of months.
Students comfort each other outside Ladue Horton Watkins High school as classmates gather to protest racist incidents at the school.
Bruce Franks Jr. speaks to his supporters after finding out he won a re-do primary election to run as the Democratic candidate for Missouri’s 78th District House seat.
Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander greets supporters as they welcome him to the stage at The Pageant in St. Louis.
Father of kidnapped Ayotzinapa 43 student speaks at Saint Louis University
by Carolina Hidalgo, St. Louis Public Radio
Mario González Contreras doesn’t like speaking at universities.
The students who fill the lecture halls and seminar rooms are about the same age as his son, César. He notices his son’s features in their faces. Or maybe, he looks for them. And that’s when it hits him the hardest.
On Sunday evening, González stood behind a lectern at Saint Louis University’s Center for Global Citizenship. About two dozen students listened intently as he talked about his son.
César González Hernández turned 19 the spring before he left home to study at Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Guerrero, Mexico. He was bright and idealistic and eager to serve as a teacher in Mexico’s indigenous and marginalized communities. Communities like his.
“He was a human being,” González said in Spanish. “With dreams and with flaws. But with more virtues than flaws.”
The last time González heard from his son was at 5:35 p.m. on Sept. 26, 2014.
That night, about 100 students from the Ayotzinapa school commandeered a handful of buses to get themselves to the capital. They hoped to attend a march marking the anniversary of a student massacre carried out decades ago by the government.
Photographed Miss Rosie Willis in her award-winning north city garden for an episode of We Live Here.
A church in the proposed NGA footprint: Congregation says goodbye
by Carolina Hidalgo, St. Louis Public Radio
In the same pulpit his father had preached from for decades, he clutched the microphone and spoke.
“You whispered a word.”
Fresh flowers decorated the lectern. He wore a white suit with a picture of his dad pinned to its lapel.
“Father, we want to thank you for a beautiful life.”
The Rev. Jonathan Davis opened his eyes and looked at the dozens of people swaying in the pews. They had all known and loved his father, The Rev. Joel Kelly Davis, and now they were here to say goodbye.
They stood in the warm, cinder block building that has housed Grace Missionary Baptist Church for most of its 60-year existence. Each of them had a story about the elder Davis, who died two weeks ago at age 101.
They traded memories, each one distinct except for the little church at Cass and Jefferson Avenues that tied them all together.
The Rev. Jonathan Davis preaches while speaking about his father.
Felicia Davis, Rev. Jonathan Davis' wife, helps a church member's son with his shoelace.
Members and visitors pray.
Rev. Joel Davis' grandchildren announce their names for parishioners.
Ashley Gregory stands with hundreds of other attendees at a St. Louis vigil held in honor of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.
Mike Mike's 20th birthday
Balloons are released in commemoration of what would've been Mike Brown's 20th birthday.
Cherish Turner, 11, with the Get Fit Dance Crew, shows off at a birthday party in honor of Mike Brown.
Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss is greeted by both supporters and protesters after being sworn in as chief.
Activists, including Keith Rose, right, approach the Ferguson police department with a sign calling for police reform.
Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss speaks with residents on his first day as chief.
David Whitt, head of Ferguson's Copwatch, argues with Ferguson City Manager De'Carlon Seewood.
Demonstrators stand in the street outside Ferguson City Attorney Stephanie Karr's house to demand her resignation.
After the shooting of Jorevis Scruggs: Prayers and mourning
by Carolina Hidalgo, St. Louis Public Radio
Clergy members, activists and community members gathered Thursday to mourn the death of 15-year-old Jorevis Scruggs, who was fatally shot by police earlier this week. Police say the teen was shot after he pointed a gun at an officer who gave chase as Scruggs jumped out of a suspected stolen car.
About three dozen people attended the vigil, placing teddy bears and “Black Lives Matters” signs in the residential alley where Scruggs died near St. Louis Avenue and Bacon Street. They lit candles, prayed and called for changes in community-police relations.
The interfaith group held hands near a laminated photo of Scruggs tacked to a utility pole as Rev. Robert Scott led a prayer. Many wiped away tears.
“There’s a family that has lost a son, a brother, a cousin, a nephew,” Rev. Scott said.
“I am sick and tired of going to prayer vigils for young black men and women who are being shot by police. We're sick and tired of having to come together and deal with the same thing over and over and over and over and over here in the St. Louis region.”
“There are some who just look at this as another day on the job and it would be my prayer, oh God, that you will temper their consciousness. So that they can understand that you don’t just shoot anyone cavalierly and then go on about your business.” – Rev. Robert Scott
“If the economic conditions were a level playing field, we wouldn’t have to worry about this young man being in a stolen car because he would know that by the time he turns 18, he can get one of those … Because the opportunity would be there. See, we have to look at this thing as a broad spectrum. Not just a murder in the street. There’s a reason why our kids do what they do. Because you have not leveled the playing field.” – Beverly Jones
“There are times where I want to raise the question ‘Why?’ This is our lament. This is our pain. A mother is hurting somewhere. Siblings are hurting somewhere. An uncle came down. He couldn’t even stay because he’s in so much pain.” – Rev. Robert Scott
“I was here the day it happened. I saw that young man running for his life and shot in the back … This is not my first vigil. This is not my first time standing in an alley mourning a black life and what’s happening around here is there is no regard for humanity … The officers pronounced him dead and threw a sheet on him before the ambulance even arrived.” – Myron Winston
“I heard Syreeta [Myers] say once: VonDerrit [Myers] wasn’t perfect. But he deserved to grow up. How many of our kids make mistakes? … I’m not sure that enough of us are outraged. That enough of us have shed our tears. Because the blood of our children calls out from the ground again.” – Rabbi Susan Talve
“We need to grow a generation that sees a future. Not a generation that doesn’t think they matter, doesn’t think that they have a future. We have to lament the future that this young man lost. And maybe didn’t even think that he had.” – Rabbi Susan Talve
“Whatever happened that caused this encounter – Was it really worth risking bullets in this neighborhood? Was it worth the little kids that could’ve been playing in their yard … and could’ve been hit by a stray bullet? Was it really worth that? Is a car worth that? Are there material possessions worth that kind of recklessness? We have to get outraged about the devaluing of life.” – Rev. Traci Blackmon
“We charge you to build relationships with folks that don’t look like you. That don’t act like you, that don’t think like you, that don’t worship like you. Build a coalition. That’s how we change things. Put aside our differences. And understand that my child is as valuable as anybody else’s.” – Rev. Karen Anderson
“What they say is you have the right to remain silent. I say today: You have the right not to remain silent. We have the right to lift our voices in protest. We have the right to cry out in lament. We have the right to cry out in disgust at a system that proclaims that we are all free and equal and we are not.” – Rev. Karen Anderson
Aden Jones Jeffries, 8, son of St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, sits alongside Lewis Reed, president of the Board of Aldermen, while listening to celebratory speeches at St. Louis Public Schools headquarters last night after citizens voted to pass Proposition 1, a tax increase that will funnel money toward city schools.
School newscast empowers Riverview Gardens students to tell their own stories
by Carolina Hidalgo, St. Louis Public Radio
Fifth-grader Saniya Bryant sits at a desk at Koch Elementary, meticulously studying a set of questions. Behind her, a lime green cloth hangs from the ceiling. Across from her, a fourth-grader swivels a video camera in her direction.
“Quiet on set.”
Saniya is prepping herself to conduct an interview for Koch TV, the school's student-run online newscast. Originally a public speaking course for fourth- and fifth-graders, the class morphed into a news operation this year.
Every Thursday, students gather in a converted teacher's lounge at the Ferguson-area school to do research, prepare questions and write scripts. They record each other in front of the makeshift green screen with Principal Howard Fields’ personal Canon equipment and an iPad teleprompter.
They often interrupt the show to burst into song – a “Hello?” spoken into a mic becomes a quick Adele impersonation – and crack jokes – “You sound like some chicken without seasoning!” – but Fields is quick to point out the valuable skills they’re learning while having fun.
“They’re working on critical thinking, literacy, listening – components they’re being assessed on outside of Koch TV,” he said. “Everything we do is about impacting student achievement.”
A former high school basketball coach, Fields brings a coaching mentality to the news team. He reminds students to play their part – producer, anchor, cameraman – and work together.
“Mr. Fields steps back and lets us do what we’re capable of,” said fifth-grader Myauna Hayes, who Fields describes as a star reporter. “We’re all in this together.”
A couple of portraits from a recent series looking at the toll a homicide takes on families, neighborhoods, first responders and the legal system.
Mary Pat Carl, lead homicide prosecutor for the city of St. Louis.
Mike Mahon, an attorney with Missouri's public defender system.
A few from my first month in St. Louis.
U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City, greets Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown's mother, during a Hillary Clinton campaign event in St. Louis.
Anaya Chenna, 5, of St. Louis, participates in a candlelight vigil aimed at raising awareness of the toll of gun violence in St. Louis at Saint John's United Church of Christ.
Murphy Lee poses for a portrait at Vape Ya Tailfeather, his new vape shop, in St. Charles.
Grace Kenyon walks her dogs, Lhenny and Brown, near the Ashley Street Power House, a city landmark that developers have said could become a team store in the proposed stadium plan.
Estero High kicker Emily Culvahouse kicks during football practice on Oct. 29, 2015.
Ashley Ward, director of the Next Level Leadership Academy at Next Level Church, prays during a vigil for those injured during a shooting at ZombiCon at Centennial Park in downtown Fort Myers.
Rene Calambu, of Fort Myers, and 10-month-old Jaylin Amador Diaz, of Naples, look onto the runway while waiting to board Choice Aire flight 908 to Havana on Nov. 2, 2015. Southwest Florida International Airport began direct service to José Martí International Airport on Monday afternoon.
Emily Culvahouse, right, watches teammates run drills during football practice at Estero High School on Oct. 29, 2015.
Emily Culvahouse watches teammates run drills during football practice at Estero High School on Oct. 29, 2015. Culvahouse has been a kicker at Estero since her freshman year.
Richland Balsam. Blue Ridge Mountains, N.C.
Ben and Alyson. Nashville, Tenn.