Erin Williams

Fellowship Producer

Erin Williams has joined St Louis Public Radio as a Fellowship Producer, where she will be creating stories centered around regional race matters, as well as diversity and culture. Prior to arriving in St. Louis, Erin Worked as an editorial aide and staff writer at The Washington Post, covering arts, culture, and entertainment for the Style section and was a reporter for the site The Root – DC. She also produced the Friday ‘NewsViews’ roundtable segment for WPFW-FM under the tutelage of veteran journalist Askia Muhammad. She graduated from The University of Alabama with a degree in Telecommunication and Film. During her undergraduate years, Erin interned at Alabama Public Radio, and spent part of the summer of 2008 as an congressional intern for Artur Davis.  

Erin enjoys traveling and road trips, live shows, exploring museums, and finding the best that every city she inhabits has to offer.

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Features
5:00 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Unloading The Recorder: Erin Williams Shares Her Thoughts After A Year In St. Louis

St. Louis Public Radio fellowship producer Erin Williams
St. Louis Public Radio

For the past year, St. Louis Public Radio producer Erin Williams has covered regional race matters, diversity and culture as part of an inaugural fellowship made possible, in part, by a grant from the Public Policy Research Center.

Her last day is today, October 18, 2013, and we wish her well as she continues her journalism career.

Williams' commentary about her one year in St. Louis as well as her conversation with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh appear below:

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Arts & Culture
4:27 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

The Black Rep Finds New Theater Home At Harris-Stowe State University

(l-r) Justin Ivan Brown, Ron Himes, and Ronald L. Connor in the Black Rep's production of "The Whipping Man," which the company performed in last year's season at The Grandel Theatre. This year the company will be housed at the Emerson Performance Center on the campus of Harris-Stowe State University.
Credit Courtesy of Stewart Goldstein

After being ousted from their home at The Grandel Theatre in Grand Center, The Black Rep theater company has found a new place for its productions at Harris-Stowe State University.

The company will now hold its performances at the Emerson Performance Center on the school’s campus, which seats over 200. The Grandel Theatre was owned by Grand Center Incorporated, which sold it earlier this summer.

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Features
5:00 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Legacy Of Katherine Dunham In Danger In East St. Louis

Leverne Backstrom is the board president of the Katherine Dunham Centers for Arts and Humanities. She says that money is hard to come by to keep the museum running. "You continue to think where the next resource might be.”
Erin WIlliams St. Louis Public Radio

    

When Katherine Dunham - world dancer, former professor, and part-time East St. Louis resident - died in 2006, she made it a point to make sure that her legacy was remembered. She held workshops and gave personal instruction to other dancers on how to perform her flamboyant, graceful, Africa-influenced Dunham Technique; she wrote books, gave talks, and did interviews at length on overcoming racism and 

  discrimination while traveling the world with her troupe, the Katherine Dunham Company; and, most importantly, she oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Katherine Dunham Museum in East St. Louis, housed just across the street from the three homes she owned and occupied during her time in Illinois.

Unfortunately, memories can’t make money. And that’s what you need in order to run a museum.

Though the museum receives grants from time to time, there’s no trust or steady income, visits are by appointment only, and paying members of the museum are few. In fact, if you call the number listed on the website to book a tour, you get the cell phone of Laverne Backstrom, board president of the Katherine Dunham Centers for Arts and Humanities - and tour guide for the museum. Unlike the lights and the phone line at the museum, she can guarantee that her phone won’t be turned off.

“I think that her plan was by continuing to certify instructors, she then had these persons understand that they were more than dancers, that they were perpetuating a way of life, and it was the way that she thought that life ought to be lived,” says Backstrom, a retired schoolteacher.

Ideally, Dunham envisioned the museum as a bastion for artist to dance, make music, and learn about other cultures – and for the most part, that’s still happening.  The studio located in the backyard still serves as a place for instruction and weekly classes, and there’s still a yearly intensive held at Wash U every summer. If she were ever in financial trouble, Dunham could quickly call on friends like Harry Belafonte to help her cover costs. Her daughter, Marie-Christine, lives in France and leaves the day-to-day operations of the Museum in East St. Louis to the Board.

“You’re always subject to losing all of it. But you don’t think about that on a day to day basis. You continue to think where the next grant is going to come from or where the next resource might be,” says Backstrom. “I’m not going to be very effective screaming and yelling by myself that this is what needs to happen.”

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Economy
4:01 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Report On 'Public Cost Of Low-Wage Jobs' Sparks Response In St. Louis

Minister Martin Rafanan stands next to the oversized check for $7 billion dollars that represented the amount that taxpayers have to pay to support public assistance programs that are used by many fast food workers.
Erin Williams St. Louis Public Radio

Fast food workers and supporters held a press conference today in response to a recent report from the University of California-Berkeley.

The report stated that the low wages of fast-food workers cost the public $7 billion a year in public assistance.

Gathered in front of an area McDonald’s, employees took turns talking about their experiences struggling to raise families and covering medical costs on their salaries.

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Features
3:11 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

World Food Day Observed In St. Louis

Students from St. Louis city and county schools assembled prepackaged meals to combat hunger in Tanzania and St. Louis
Erin Williams St. Louis Public Radio

Students and workers from several schools and businesses assembled at John Burroughs School to assemble food packages for people in need in the country of Tanzania and St. Louis city today, as part of an event held by nonprofit St. Louis World Food Day

The event was held in honor of World Food Day, which was created by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. The cause is being led by Don Soffer, a high school senior at John Burroughs. The 17-year-old is trying to both alleviate hunger and change how others think about it. 

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Economy
5:00 am
Fri October 4, 2013

Order Up! North Grand Restaurant Fresno's Diner Wants To Be 'Beacon Of Hope' In Community

Entrepreneur Pat Woods shows off kitchen equipment for her new restaurant, Fresno's Diner. Projected to open in December, the eatery will be open for breakfast and lunch in the College Hill neighborhood.
Erin Williams St. Louis Public Radio

Restaurant

Back in the mid-1980s, entrepreneur Pat Woods was quite the multitasker.

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Cityscape
5:22 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Pelagie Green Wren, The First Black Dancer At The Muny, Dies At 71

Barnhill, who now dances on Broadway, was taught by Wren for several years beginning at the age of three.
Credit Courtesy of Hettie Barnhill

Of the dancers who performed as part of the Muny Chorus in 1962, only one of them had their own security guard.

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Arts & Culture
3:55 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

STL Fashion Week Returns For Eighth Fall Season

(Flickr/...loveMaegan)

For the second time in two months, St. Louis is focused on fashion. St. Louis Fashion Week is back for its eighth fall season. 

The 10-day event is a collection of fashion shows, exhibitions, and fundraisers that brings together both local and national designers to celebrate the best sartorial offerings in the region.

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Education
3:44 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Wash U., SLU Study Finds Physical, Mental Health Play 'Surprising' Role In High School Dropout Rates

(via Flickr/NWABR)

A multi-disciplinary study released today finds that in relation to school dropout rates, health plays a bigger role than one might think.

The study is part of ‘For The Sake of All,’ a five part series from Washington University and Saint Louis University that focuses on the health of African Americans in the St. Louis region.

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Education
2:46 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Kirkwood High Students Decide 'It Can Wait' And Pledge To Not Text And Drive

Kirkwood High School students were asked to pledge their support to stop texting and driving as part of AT&T's 'It Can Wait' campaign.
Credit Intel Free Press/Wikimedia Commons

Students at Kirkwood High School became the latest to join AT&T's nationwide push to stop texting and driving.

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