Young Leaders Push For Change In Ferguson

Sep 2, 2014

From left, Tef Poe, Johnetta Elzie, "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh, and Jay Mitchell
Credit St. Louis Public Radio

Johnetta Elzie went to Ferguson the afternoon Michael Brown was shot and killed.

“It moved us to tears,” the 25-year-old college student said. “Between hearing the first-hand accounts and seeing his blood on the streets still. You could feel that his blood was screaming out from the pavement.” 

Young leaders in Ferguson have amplified that cry, rallying on social media and participating in protests.

“There’s been a show of solidarity between the youth that we haven’t seen in quite some time,” said St. Louis rapper Tef Poe. “Most of us know each other without personally knowing each other through social media. This movement was started on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.

“We all watched Mike Brown die. One of the earliest pictures that I saw was Mike Brown’s body laying in the middle of the street. I saw also a picture of his stepfather holding a sign. These are all things that were pushed out to me via social media.”

Backed by an audience on social media and the streets of Ferguson, they’re also asking for control of the movement.

“A lot of people make the mistake thinking Malcolm X took a bullet, Martin Luther King took a bullet, Medgar Evers took a few bullets and the problem was fixed,” Poe said. “When these people died, the problems still continued to occur.”

“It’s time to give the reins over to somebody else who actually stays on the front lines of how this all goes down,” said activist minister Jay Mitchell, 22. “St. Louis is different because this is not just St. Louis, Missouri, anymore. This is not just St. Louis, America, anymore. This is St. Louis, international. And that’s what’s going to make the difference now.”

Tef Poe, Jay Mitchell and Johnetta Elzie share their thoughts on their roles, justice and growing up black in St. Louis:

"St. Louis on the Air" discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.