Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Carolina Hidalgo

Photojournalist
Kelsey Thomas started the #314DayAccentChallenge to celebrate and highlight the St. Louis accent. 2018.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Kelsey Thomas celebrates 314 Day the way many St. Louisans do: she puts on a Cardinals shirt and orders some Imo’s Pizza. If she’s feeling nostalgic, she’ll tune in to Hot 104.1.

But a few years ago, she started a new tradition for March 14. To show off her city’s accent, she curated a list of words that end with an “R” sound — chair, hair, millionaire — and posted them on Twitter with the hashtag #314DayAccentChallenge. The words highlight a unique feature of a local accent that has been celebrated by St. Louis rappers and studied by linguists.

Niah Ester and Anjali Adhikari pose for a portrait at the annual Educators for Social Justice conference.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

Alex Garcia poses for a portrait at Christ Church United Church of Christ, where he’s taking sanctuary.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

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.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio photojournalist Carolina Hidalgo shares her favorite photos from 2017:

In September of this year, a judge found former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. For months, hundreds of people gathered in the streets – across the city and the county – to protest the verdict.

Jose Garcia holds his daughter, Amanda, at a Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Ferguson. (Nov. 19, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

DACA activists rally outside an event organized by U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay at Saint Louis University. Nov. 10, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay said Friday that he won’t support the year-end spending bill necessary to keep the government running unless it includes provisions to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation.

The remarks came at a Saint Louis University forum organized by Clay to discuss the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gave 800,000 young immigrants work permits and relief from deportation over the last five years.

Protesters push and lift one of the fences surrounding the St. Louis Medium Security Institution. July 21, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated July 24 at 2:15 p.m. information on arrests — Amid continued protests during this week's heat wave, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson announced Saturday that the city is ordering portable air conditioning units to be installed "as soon as possible" at the Medium Security Institution. Inside the facility, which is also known as the Workhouse, many inmates are live in quarters without air conditioning as temperatures soar above 100 degrees. 

Environmental Protection Agency workers met with city health officials at the Clemens House before learning they did not have authorization to test the site for asbestos.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:40 p.m. Wednesday with comments from Mayor Lyda Krewson – The day after a recent four-alarm fire engulfed the historic Clemens House on Cass Avenue, neighbors got together with brooms and shovels to start cleaning up the debris left scattered across their yards.

“We started talking and started looking and then we decided — wait a minute, we don’t know what we’re sweeping up here,” said Larry Chapman, a retired carpenter who lives on Helen Street.

Mya Petty poses for a portrait before graduation last week.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

Mike Hassell, of the Chosen for Change foundation, hugs Joshua Anderson, of the Get Fit Crew, after a dance-off at a party to celebrate what would’ve been Mike Brown’s 20th birthday on May 20, 2016 at Canfield Green Apartments.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This year 2016 was eventful for both St. Louis and for St. Louis Public Radio. We hired our first photojournalist, Carolina Hidalgo, just over a year ago, to help us better tell stories visually. Carolina looks back at her first full year in St. Louis by sharing her favorite photographs from 2016:

Friends comfort each other outside Ladue Horton Watkins High School as students gather to support the mother of a student who was burned with a hot glue gun.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 21 with town hall meeting information — Ladue School District officials are "hopeful" after a meeting Friday with members of the St. Louis County NAACP, according to a district spokesperson.

The discussions came after two days of student protests over recent racially charged incidents against black students at Ladue Horton Watkins High School. Three students were disciplined.

Mario González Contreras, on a speaking tour to spread awareness about the Ayotzinapa 43, attends a Saint Louis University student mass at St. Francis Xavier College Church after speaking with students.
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.

Mariana Flores holds her son, Jitzak Mejia, 4, outside the federal courthouse in St. Louis this past April. Immigration reform supporters gathered in cities across the country as the Supreme Court heard arguments in United States v. Texas on April 18.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Naomi Carranza and Mariana Flores are sitting at a kitchen table while Flores’ five sons run around the room playing. While the youngest boy tugs his mom’s shirtsleeve, Carranza says that she thinks of the boys as her own kids.

The two women met less than a year ago and are nine years apart in age, but they act as though they have known each other forever. They tease each other like sisters and often finish each other’s sentences. They can share knowing glances from across a room.

A group of STL Lunch regulars eat their turkey, bacon and cheese sandwiches at Hickey Park.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

 

It's one of the hottest days of summer and Rodney McGruder Brown is loading 32 paper lunch bags into a friend's car in the Tower Grove area. Each bag contains one of the many turkey, bacon, lettuce and blue cheese sandwiches he spent the morning assembling. Water, juice boxes and zip-close bags full of fresh strawberries and grapes go in alongside the sandwiches.

On the other side of town, 17-year-old Mya Petty and a crew of children have set up a folding table at Hickey Park in the Baden neighborhood. They drape a checkered cloth over it and tape up a colorful sign advertising free food for kids who otherwise might not have much to eat during the summer.

Family, friends and colleagues gathered outside Dunbar Elementary School to remember Jacara Sproaps.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Yellow and green balloons floated above a crowd gathered outside Dunbar Elementary School Wednesday as family, friends and colleagues clutched candles, held hands and remembered Jacara Sproaps.

Felicia Davis, wife of the Rev. Jonathan Davis, helps a church member's son with his shoelace.
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.”

Beads of sweat dotted his face. He stretched out his vowels so his words became a song.

“You called him home.”

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.

Photos: The 20th birthday of Michael Brown Jr.

May 23, 2016
Balloons are released in commemoration of what would've been Mike Brown's 20th birthday.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Family, friends and neighbors gathered at Canfield Green Apartments Friday afternoon to celebrate what would’ve been Michael Brown Jr.’s 20th birthday.

Michael Brown Sr. and his nonprofit, Chosen for Change Foundation, hosted the party to provide a moment of remembrance and joy for a community that organizers say is still dealing with grief.

“We just want everybody to have a great time, and a nice time, and enjoy themselves and bring smiles and some type of comfort back to their home,” Brown said.

Activists continue to demonstrate against city attorney Stephanie Karr as a police vehicle idles in front of them near Karr's home on Wesley Avenue Monday evening.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

People calling for the ouster of Ferguson city attorney Stephanie Karr chanted and carried signs in a protest that wound its way from the police department to Karr’s house Monday evening.

It was the very first day on the job for new police chief Delrish Moss. But it wasn't the first time Karr has been the subject of controversy.

A jockey rides a horse back past the finish line after a race on opening day at Fairmount Park.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There were 30 minutes until the first race of the day and the locker room at Fairmount Park Racetrack buzzed with activity. Jockeys flipped through race programs and flicked their whips through the air. Television sets perched on cluttered shelves flashed scenes of the track outside, where fans filled the stands for opening day of the Collinsville racetrack's 91st season.

As announcers counted down in anticipation, the jockeys helped each other tape up aching joints and teased each other playfully. Some said a quick prayer.

Re-enactors walk quietly through the woods at Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles County.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As a production crew carried lights, cameras and generators into a thicket of pine trees at Busch Memorial Conservation Area on a recent morning, Jeremy Turner stood on the bed of his pickup and surveyed the small group of friends and acquaintances he'd recruited to join him on set.

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