Diversity

Edem and Pam Dzunu work in the Office of International Students and Scholars at Washington University.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

For Edem and Pam Dzunu, the desire to help others develop intercultural communication skills stems from personal experience.

In 2009, Edem, who is originally from Ghana, came to Missouri to meet his then-fiancé’s family for the first time. The couple was shaken when Pam’s family immediately rejected Edem and refused to even talk to him because of his racial and ethnic background.

Interim President Mike Middleton addresses the University of Missouri Board of Curators
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The interim president of the University of Missouri system said that even as memories of last fall’s racial protests in Columbia persist, the school continues to perform valuable services for the state.

But the only African-American member of the university’s Board of Curators wants to make sure that the system’s new emphasis on diversity results in action, not just talk.

Interim President Mike Middleton addresses the University of Missouri Board of Curators
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Last fall, amid demonstrations in Columbia that ended the tenure of the University of Missouri’s president and the chancellor at Mizzou, the system became a national focus for campus problems about racial diversity and inclusion.

Now, the system’s interim president said Friday, it is becoming a model for the best way to work through those problems.

St. Louis County Library

A new local organization wants to get the conversation about race and racism started with a group you may not expect: young, white families in St. Louis. We Stories: Raising Big-Hearted Kids is using children’s literature to “create conversation, change and hope in St. Louis” with the aim of making St. Louis more inclusive.

In the early 1970s, Washington University had more African American students enrolled than ever before. They created a guide to help future black students navigate the university and St. Louis.
Courtesy Washington University Library

When Ralph Hargrow arrived at Washington University from his home in the East Coast in 1969, he was part of a growing group of black students on a campus going through the same kind of drastic change that was hitting the nation as a whole.

The previous December, a group of black students had confronted Chancellor Thomas Eliot in his office in stately Brookings Hall and presented demands that later came to be known as a “Black Manifesto.”

A large crowd gathers at the clocktower on the campus of Saint Louis University.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University is getting pushback over how long it is taking to meet diversity goals agreed to by President Fred Pestello and student protesters last year. 

John Gaal, director of training for the Carpenter's Regional Council, gives Charles McElroy a certificate for completing the BUD pre-apprenticeship program on Wed. Nov. 4, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

In October 2014, Corey Harris was unemployed and looking for work. Now he makes $33 an hour as an ironworker apprentice in St. Louis. He made the transition from out-of-work retail manager to a career in construction through a pre-apprenticeship program called Building Union Diversity, or BUD.

Harris graduated from the pilot session of BUD just before Thanksgiving 2014. He was indentured as an ironworker apprentice in December and started getting steady work in March 2015.

The Gender Unicorn graphic
Trans Student Educational Resources

As someone who has been disabled almost all her life, Amber Cheek knows how a seemingly kind word or helpful gesture from well-intentioned people can be subtly demeaning.

As the director of accessibility at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Cheek also knows that education and understanding can go a long way toward knowing the right words to say and bridging what she sees is often an information and generation gap.

St. Louis NAACP President Adolphus Pruitt says the Contractor Loan Fund is a potential game-changer for diversity in St. Louis construction at a news conference announcing the fund Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at Cortex.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Minority and women contractors who can’t get traditional loans to expand their business in St. Louis have a new resource at their disposal: the Contractors Loan Fund.

Certified minority and women-owned business enterprises will be able to apply for a loan of up to $1 million from the fund, which has a pool of $10 million.

The Missouri National Guard says it is focused on recruiting and retaining more minority soldiers so that its units more closely reflect the communities they serve.
Missouri Army National Guard Recruiting Office | Facebook

The Missouri National Guard reports it has diversified its ranks by 25 percent over the last year, even as some law enforcement agencies around the state have struggled to do so.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol has put out a call for trooper applicants, while it acknowledges it has struggled to attract minority recruits. The agency's 99th recruit class graduated in December.
Courtesy Missouri Department of Public Safety, Flickr

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is trying some new tactics to attract more minority candidates as it opens the application process for its next recruit class.

Saint Louis University School of Law in downtown St. Louis
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

Even as law schools nationally are suffering from waning enrollments, some are seeing a boost in the number of minority students. That’s according to a new study that will be in the spring edition of the Saint Louis University Law Journal.

Mayor Francis Slay announces an initiative to increase the diversity of the public safety department
UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Updated at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 20 with approval of money.

The Board of Estimate and Apportionment approved $39,000 of the proposed $50,000 for the minority recruitment program. An additional $11,000 may be available next fiscal year. The city and the Ethical Society of Police must still sign a contract outlining the details.

The grant comes as the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department faces a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint over its promotion policies. The St. Louis Fire Department has faced several lawsuits over the same issue.

A few months after the jury announced George Zimmerman was not guilty in the Florida shooting death of Trayvon Martin, NBC News legal analyst Lisa Bloom published a book examining the case, “Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It.”

In “Suspicion Nation,” Bloom looks at what happened behind the scenes and why similar shootings continue to take place, including the August death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Stephanie Lecci / St. Louis Public Radio

Amy Hunter and Reena Hajat want to help us communicate. They want to improve the dialogue between people of different races in the city.  

“I think [the unrest in Ferguson was] a long time coming,” said Hajat, executive director of the Diversity Awareness Partnership, which helps community organizations navigate difficult conversations about race, racism, marginalization and disempowerment. She said the city has not been communicating well about racial issues for decades.

Dean Benjamin Akande and Michelle Tucker
Provided by Webster University

As an aspiring English teacher during her undergraduate studies more than 20 years ago, Michelle Tucker’s ambition was to become a key leader within corporate America. Michelle’s aspirations led her to Webster University to pursue her graduate degree, which she completed in 2000. Michelle’s encounters with nurturing, farsighted professors at Webster University played a key role in refining her talents and maximizing her strengths in strategic planning, people management and employee development.

(via Flickr/OregonDOT)

Earlier this year the Corporation for Public Broadcasting awarded NPR a $1.5 million grant to launch a major journalism initiative to deepen coverage of race, ethnicity and culture, and to capture the issues that define an increasingly diverse America.

Used With Permission: Mary Schanuel

Taking advantage of our community’s diversity can be a challenge.  While people of different ethnicities, cultures, and ages are all around us we can often find ourselves on the outside looking in.  Host Don Marsh talks with guests about ways non-profit and arts organizations can engage new and underserved communities and improve their diversity.