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:
As a photojournalist, I often find myself drawn to laughter and joy – to the beauty of life’s lighter moments.
But St. Louis didn’t make it easy to find joy this year. I witnessed a lot of pain. Neighbors lost their neighborhood. A congregation lost its church. A community lost a child.
One spring afternoon, I pulled up to a grassy lot on 23rd and Mullanphy streets. People who had just learned their neighborhood would be razed welcomed me into their homes. They held hands and prayed as city officials a few miles away drew up plans to move them out.
Later that month, another group gathered to hold hands and pray after police killed a 15-year-old behind a house off St. Louis Avenue. They lit candles, shed tears and called for changes in community-police relations.
On May 20 – what would’ve been Mike Brown’s 20th birthday – his family chose to celebrate his life instead of mourning his death. Children at Canfield Green Apartments received toys and cupcakes. A dance-off ended in laughter and hugs. So, I was able to witness some joy.
I also saw it at Hickey Park, where an outspoken teen activist spent her summer feeding a playful group of kids in her neighborhood. Then she ran around with them as they slung water at each other under the hot summer sun. “Just loving your community is activism,” she said, matter-of-factly.
And it was palpable at Yaquis on Cherokee on the night of the 78th House District re-do election, where a victorious Bruce Franks Jr. climbed onto the bar as supporters surrounded him. Together, they chanted about democracy and what it looks like. It was a chant many had learned while shouting it into the night on the streets of Ferguson and St. Louis. But this time, they shouted it with someone they felt would finally represent them in Jefferson City.
Bishop Derrick Robinson and the Rev. Rebecca Ragland pray as they place a candle on the spot where 15-year-old Jorevis Scruggs died in mid-April after being shot by a police officer near St. Louis Avenue and North Grand Boulevard. Two police officers later received an award for their involvement in the 15-year-old’s death.
Bob Hansman takes a break to cry as he helps empty out Grace Baptist Church on Oct. 9. Six months after the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency selected the St. Louis Place neighborhood as the preferred site for a new facility, Rev. Jonathan Davis cleared his pews and his cross from the church his father founded 60 years before.
Students comfort each other outside Ladue Horton Watkins High School during a walkout to support a classmate attacked in what was called a racially-motivated incident. The Nov. 16 protest evolved into a march to the district superintendent’s office, where students pointed to a history of unequal treatment and demanded stronger responses to racist incidents in their classrooms.
Jaream Davis takes a nap on a church pew at Grace Baptist Church during a memorial service for his grandfather, the Rev. Joel Kelly Davis, who died at age 101 in May. The service was one of the last at the church building, near Jefferson and Cass avenues, before the congregation left to make way for the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency facility.
As city officials celebrated the NGA decision with a news conference on April 1, St. Louis Place residents gathered on 23rd and Mullanphy Streets for a neighborhood picnic to pray and comfort each other. Cecelia Betts’ family lives just outside the new NGA footprint. “It’s not what we envisioned when we bought our house here,” said her father, Phil Betts, about the large, gated facility set to break ground in 2017.
Before the start of a vigil for Jorevis Scruggs, a man identified as Scruggs’ uncle visits the site where the 15-year-old was killed by police. The man, visibly distraught, left before the start of the vigil, which was organized by local clergy members on April 21.
A group of STL Lunch regulars eat turkey, bacon and blue cheese sandwiches before returning to the basketball court at Hickey Park on July 22. Seventeen-year-old activist Mya Petty, with the help of friends and relatives, ran the grassroots summer lunch program to help feed young people in her neighborhood.
Students relax while waiting for friends to perform during the North Campus spring student showcase and four-year anniversary party on May 18. The after-school center provides tutoring, meals and enrichment classes – like yoga, coding and dance – to students in the O'Fallon neighborhood and parts of Penrose and College Hill.
Mya Petty laughs as 12-year-old Ryhim Bailey squirts her with water at Hickey Park on July 22. Petty spent summer afternoons packing and handing out lunches to kids in her neighborhood through a grassroots program she called STL Lunch. On the hottest days of summer, lunchtime often ended with water fights.
Felicia Davis helps a child with his shoelace at Grace Baptist Church during a May 21 service honoring the life of the Rev. Joel Kelly Davis, her father-in-law. Rev. Davis died in May at age 101, shortly after finding out his church would likely be demolished to make way for a new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency facility.
Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss accepts a hat from residents outside the Ferguson Police Department hours after being sworn in on May 9. While a group of residents organized a welcome rally for Moss, another group gathered to demonstrate against city attorney Stephanie Karr.
Demonstrators stand outside Ferguson city attorney Stephanie Karr’s house to demand her resignation on May 9, the same day the city’s new police chief was sworn in. Karr, whose actions were criticized in a 2015 Department of Justice report that detailed unconstitutional policing in Ferguson, had recently been removed as city prosecutor. She stepped down as city attorney two weeks later.
Jumira Moore, 8, watches as her mother, Timira Saunders, fills out a ballot at Central Baptist Church in St. Louis on Nov. 8. Jumira said she voted for Hillary Clinton during a mock election at her school earlier that day.
Members of the Missouri House of Representatives throw sheets of paper in the air to mark the end of the legislative session on May 13 in Jefferson City.
Dozens of supporters surround Bruce Franks Jr. at Yaquis on Cherokee after learning of his landslide victory against incumbent Rep. Penny Hubbard in a court-ordered re-do election for Missouri’s 78th District House seat on Sept. 16. The special election came after Franks challenged August primary results, leading both a city circuit and appeals court to rule that absentee ballots were improperly counted in the original election.
The Rev. Osagyefo Sekou performs at an album release party for his and Jay-Marie Hill’s debut album on Jan. 26. “The Revolution Has Come” – recorded as Rev. Sekou and the Holy Ghost – is a powerful mix of gospel and blues inspired by protest chants.
Demonstrators walk down West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson on Aug. 9, to mark two years since Michael Brown was killed by a Ferguson police officer on nearby Canfield Drive.
Follow Carolina Hidalgo on Twitter: @carolinahidalgo