Activism | St. Louis Public Radio

Activism

Cardinal Ritter student leaders Deja Brown (left), senior class president, and Darius White, sophomore class officer reflected on Dr. King's legacy in April 2018.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

On March 14, students Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School walked out of their school and through their Grand Center neighborhood in St. Louis, stopping on the steps of St. Francis Xavier College Church.

Among the Cardinal Ritter students who took part in the walkout, were two members of the school’s student council: Deja Brown, 17, is senior class president, and Darius White, 16 who is a sophomore class officer.

Students at Maplewood Richmond Heights remember the victims of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
File Photo| Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Since the fatal shooting of students in Florida in February, many young activists have organized walkouts, rallies and calls to action. On March 24, young people all over the country will take to the streets again in a nationwide rally they’re calling “March For Our Lives.”

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with local students involved in myriad causes they are passionate about to discuss youth’s role in activism.

The Movement for Black Lives hopes to increase voter turnout among African-Americans across the country by texting "WAKANDA" to 91990.
The Movement for Black Lives

Civil rights activists are tapping into the success of the "Black Panther" film to encourage blacks and other minorities to register to vote before the 2018 midterm elections.

#Wakandathevote is a national campaign created by the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 50 organizations around the country dedicated to social activism. The campaign was organized by Rukia Lumumba, Jessica Byrd and St. Louis activist Kayla Reed.

#MeToo founder Tarana Burke talks about the evolution of the movement that aims to help sexual harassment survivors.  She spoke at Webster University on Feb. 19. 2018.
Ashley Lisenby | St. Louis Public Radio

The #MeToo movement isn’t about what you think it’s about, founder Tarana Burke told an audience at Webster University’s Loretto-Hilton Center on Monday.

Burke dispelled three common misconceptions she believes have overshadowed the message of #MeToo, including who the movement is for and what it’s supposed to accomplish.

“This is not about taking down powerful men,” Burke said. “That was a corporate response. The women who stood up have just wanted to be heard and believed.”

(L-R) Tory Russell, Regina Dennis-Nana and Bobby Williams talked about the protest of prison systems in the past versus now.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

More than four decades ago, a three-day inmate sit-in protest over conditions at the St. Louis City Jail faced a violent end, with more than 30 inmates injured. That led to a 21-day protest outside the jail by activists demanding improved conditions in the cells.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with citizen negotiators during that protest in 1972 and compared the experience with the protests of today. Joining the discussion were Regina Dennis-Nana and Bobby Williams, who were both citizen negotiators during the sit-in protests 46 years ago.

A crowd likely numbering in the thousands filled Luther Ely Smith Square during the rally after the St. Louis Women's March January 21, 2017.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The first National Women’s March was held in Washington, D.C., one year ago. That's when thousands of pink pussyhat-clad people filled streets in the nation’s capital and cities across the country to rally for the rights of women.

This is a portion of the cover of the new "Standing Up for Civil Rights" book for children.
Provided | Missouri History Museum

How do you condense more than 150 years of civil rights history in to a single book — and make it understandable and meaningful to a fifth grader?

St. Louisan Amanda Doyle and co-author Melanie Adams recently attempted to do just that, for their children's book, “Standing Up for Civil Rights in St. Louis.”  It starts in the 1800s with the stories of people who were enslaved, and ends with the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson. But its message looks to the future, asking kids what they can do to change enduring problems facing African-Americans.

This pink poster with a photo and scribbled rememberances was hung on the door to the apartment building where Kenneth "Kiwi" Herring was shot during police investigation of reported stabbing.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As the sun set over the Transgender Memorial Garden in the Tower Grove neighborhood late last month, members of St. Louis’ transgender community, supporters and advocates expressed frustration, sadness and a strong will to resist as they gathered to mourn the death of Kenneth “Kiwi” Herring, a black transgender woman.

People gather at the Transgender Memorial Garden to honor Kenneth "Kiwi" Herring.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:35 p.m. with information on charges against the driver — The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office has issued warrants against a St. Louis man who drove his car into a group of people protesting the fatal police shooting of a transgender woman.

Prosecutors filed warrants against Mark Colao for resisting arrest/detention/stop by fleeing, leaving the scene of an accident and operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner.

Carol Van Strum has been in legal battles with the federal government and chemical industries since the 1970s. She amassed a trove of government documents, which are now being published for the first time.
Risa Scott | RF Scott Imagery

Bending a rusted, gnarled piece of wire gate just above her head, Carol Van Strum ducked into the old, dark shed where she kept some old, dark secrets.

“This was my bear deterrent,” she said of the makeshift gate.

She shined a lantern past a stack of hay bales, lighting up a row of decaying cardboard boxes that housed what’s left of her document trove.

“This is where the worst of them were,” she said. “This whole, it was just filled. And you can see the state of them. This is what they all looked like.”

After gathering dust, rust and rat poop for decades in the Siuslaw National Forest, Van Strum’s piles of documents about the chemical industry are poised to become evidence in lawsuits with billions of dollars at stake.  

Crevonda Nance, Herring's sister-in-law, is supported by community activists – including Gina Torres, to the left of her, whose son was killed by police in June. Nance drove to St. Louis from Mississippi after finding out Herring was killed by police.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:24 p.m. — Members of the LGBTQ community, activists and advocates are outraged that police shot and killed a transgender black woman this week.

Frustrated by the shooting — and that police identified Kenneth “Kiwi” Herring as a man — about 40 people gathered outside the building in which Herring was shot Tuesday for a vigil and to express dissatisfaction with a police force they said was disrespectful and too quick to shoot.

St. Louis-based writer Jacqui Germain shared her poetry on "St. Louis on the Air."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

“I think of St. Louis as a place in which people are right next to each other and trying not to see each other at the same time,” said writer and poet Jacqui Germain, who has made her home here since moving from Ohio in 2008 to attend Washington University.  Germain has stayed in the area and her changing relationship with St. Louis is an integral part of her work, as is her activism.

Hedy Epstein in her St. Louis neighborhood
Humans of St. Louis | used with permission

Hedy Epstein was arrested 10 days after Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, in August 2014.

She didn’t like the way people who were demonstrating against the killing were being treated by police and the National Guard, so she joined a group of peaceful protesters. They marched to Gov. Jay Nixon’s office in the Wainwright Building in downtown St. Louis.

Ritter-Soronen wheat-paste outside Latino Americano Market.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Various St. Louis artists are voicing support for bringing Syrian refugees to the city. Chelsea Ritter-Soronen  said she believes positive experiences with refugees should shape the city’s approach to welcoming Syrian immigrants.

“I do believe in the #BringThemHere movement in St. Louis specifically, because of our brilliant example of our recent acceptance of Bosnian immigrants,” she said in an email.

Provided by Lifting Up Lila event

Hundreds of St. Louisans have pledged to rally around Lila Perry, a transgender student at Jefferson County’s Hillsboro High School.

A gathering called “Lifting up Lila” was set for 5 p.m. Sept. 4, in Hillsboro City Park. Supporters want to have their say after a group of students walked out in protest Monday when Perry said she planned to use the girls’ bathrooms and locker room. On Thursday night, a group of parents asked the school board to create a policy about who can use what restrooms.

Ferguson October protesters
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Perhaps one of the most enduring images following Michael Brown's shooting death last year is the flood of people who took to the streets in Ferguson to protest. His death became a rallying cry for hundreds of people, calling for police accountability and social justice.

Activist Lisa Fithian leads a training session at Greater St. Mark's Church in Dellwood. 11/08 Durrie Bouscaren
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

In Ferguson, nearly every store window is boarded up along West Florissant Avenue. Police department have stocked riot gear and held trainings to respond to potential civil unrest. And protesters have held sessions to organize their own response.

In many ways, it feels as though the St. Louis region is holding its breath awaiting the grand jury’s decision over whether the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown will face charges.

(Flickr/Stockmonkeys.com)

On Oct. 1, 1964, hundreds of University of California-Berkeley students surrounded a police car to protest the arrest of a student. Students stood on top of the car to deliver speeches and sing, “We Shall Overcome,” to a crowd that grew to include roughly two thousand students.