More Than You Think

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:

(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.

Erin Williams

The North City Farmers’ Market in St. Louis is in a neighborhood where the majority of its residents are African American.  It’s been a challenge, however, to attract more of them to the market every week.

Community organizers are attempting to change that. Their idea is to feature African American musicians with the hope that shoppers will follow.

Held on the 2700 block of North 14th Street every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., the North City Farmers' Market will take place through October 12.     

Erin Williams

Linda Kennedy is the artistic associate over education and community programs for The Black Rep, which includes coordinating their annual Summer Performing Arts program for youth ages 8-17.

(Flickr/Claire Cook44)

School system performance is paramount for any family looking to move and start a family, as it was for Rob and Diane Pattershuk, when they moved to Ladue 20 years ago. 

They made a good choice – the district offers a several extracurricular activities, advanced placement classes, and was ranked as the top school in the state on this year’s Newsweek poll of America’s Best High Schools.

Courtesy of College Bound

The school year may be over, but things are just getting started for 17-year-old Destiny Crockett. She graduated from Clyde C. Miller High School in St. Louis with a 4.1 GPA, finished in the top 16 of the Urban Debate League's national competition last month with her partner Cameron Smith, and will be attending Princeton in the fall on a full scholarship. 

Crockett will be the first graduate from her high school and the College Bound program to attend an Ivy League school.

Throughout his career, artist Kerry James Marshall has turned his environment into his muse, turning to the cultural and social landscape of America.

A native of Birmingham, at the age of seven, he moved from the South to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.  He grew up there during the Civil Rights Movement.

Marshall now resides in Chicago and is known for creating series of works based on outdoor landscapes and the interactions of black people within them.

Erin Williams

The St. Louis Initiative to Reduce Violence is a new effort for both the city and county to prevent wrongdoing in its tracks by starting at the source – neighborhoods and communities. The grassroots effort is incorporating a partnership of police officers and community leaders to curb wrongdoing by creating a more approachable relationship among youth and families.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

The Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing, on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis, will be turned into a Civil War training camp tomorrow at the 11th annual Freedom Crossing Event Celebration.

Erin Williams

Fast food workers and community supporters passed out flyers at Jimmy John’s in Soulard today in the continuing fight for better wages and the right to unionize as part of the STL Can’t Survive on 7.35 campaign.

The flyers were passed out in the parking lot of the restaurant around Noon and called for better managerial treatment and higher wages.

Olivia Roffle is a college student who works at another fast food restaurant. She says that if Jimmy John’s wants better service, then they need to create a welcoming environment.

Erin Williams

The intimate crowd was invited to share their thoughts on race and personal identity through spoken word. Guests wrote their six-word stories on the subject using cards from Michele Norris’ The Race Card Project

Erin Willams

At the age of seven, it’s safe to say that most kids want to be just like their parents – walk like them, act like them, work like them. For Diamond Shakoor, that meant being intrigued by her dad Abdul, who at the time was teaching older kids on how to play chess. “I asked him one day if I could play and he was like ‘Sure, if you stop getting in trouble in school.’ And so that’s how the journey started," she says. 

Teach her he did, and now, after playing in nearly 250 tournaments, she’s unstoppable.

Erin Williams

With signs in neon lights, fire hydrants that resemble anything but, and murals and metal sculptures abound, it’s a safe bet to say that The Grove neighborhood is one that thrives heavily on appearance. Much of its open and colorful aesthetic can be attributed to Grace McCammond, an artist who has been creating murals and adding color to fire hydrants and signal boxes in the neighborhood for the past nine years.

“If it holds still pretty much I’ll paint it,” she says.

Courtes of Tony Nitko/Rustic Lantern Films

Local production company Rustic Lantern Films has recently released their debut movie called "Lake Windfall," about five friends on a camping trip that turns disastrous. 

St. Louis rapper Tef Poe.
Courtesy of the Artist

If you don’t know who St. Louis rapper Tef Poe is, then there’s a good chance you haven’t been spending enough time in the digital world. Through his thoughts and lyrics he is trying to shape the way that people think about the politics and daily life of what occurs in the city from his perspective.

Erin Wiliams

The Gay-Straight Alliance of McKinley Classical Junior Academy held a press conference today in opposition of 

the NRA's proposal to train and arm at least one staff member in every school in the U.S. Released today, the report from the NRA's newly-formed National School Shield Taskforce recommends weapons training programs for school resource officers and personnel, and for states to adopt a new law that will allow additional personnel to bear arms.

Courtesy of Missouri History Museum

Every day it is a natural inclination for humans to have a question and seek an answer for it.

Some questions might come across as trivial and silly, and others may dig deeper into one’s life and purpose. And some may help to unify and unfurl decades of preconceived notions.

Erin Williams

If it’s a true statement that art imitates life, then Manuel Hughes is living proof of that.

Erin Williams

After only two years of doing business in north St. Louis, the grocery store known as the Old North Grocery Co-Op may soon close down.

Store manager Jill Whitmann says re-vamping the co-op’s business model to rely primarily on volunteers will help shore up more funds before the end of May, when the budget will tighten.

On Sunday, September 15, 1963, a 14-year old Carolyn McKinstry witnessed an event that would change her life forever – the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The incident killed Carolyn's four friends - and would become an recurring topic of conversation and lasting mark on America's history to this day.

Erin Williams

At the south end of Cherokee Street, tucked in the woven pattern of a record store, bakery, and the occasional Mexican restaurant sits a venue with a large open window and a stenciled sign that reads “Blank Space 2847 Cherokee.”

Peer through the large windows and you’ll see just that – a few chairs scattered around, a large wall of books and some boxes filled with vinyl.


Six years ago, the annual Africa World Documentary Film Festival debuted in St. Louis.

The festival is back at the Missouri History Museum and runs through Sunday, March 3rd.  The three-day event features documentaries from filmmakers all over the world that are focused on social culture, sexual identity, mental disabilities, and more.

After showing in St. Louis, the films will travel to nine other venues across three continents.

Courtesy of the Hands On Black History Museum

When Deborah Nelson Linck, curator of the Hands On Black History Museum, found a collection of antique photos of African Americans at a mall last summer, she bought them - both out of novelty, and awe.

It was rare for her to find antique photos of black people in such ordinary settings - off to war, with friends, standing next to new cars - like she did for other races, and she knew that there was something to be done with her discovery.

via Flickr/BluEyedA73

The gay and lesbian community is pushing to be included in a state law to protect against discrimination. The nonpartisan political action committee Missourians for Equality is kicking off its statewide petition drive in several areas across

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

The third Monday in January may be marked as a National Day of Service, but Christ Church Cathedral is remembering the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King with a day of speech and reflection in order to spur change. The Cathedral is giving citizens an opportunity to listen and read a selection of his speeches aloud. “Let Freedom Ring” began four years ago after the very reverend Mike Kinman, dean of Christ Church Cathedral, realized there was no element of reflection evident in the service projects that others were completing.

“What it is, is it gives a foundation of reflection so that we can consider what that work is,” he said. “He never was an activist for activism’s sake. Everything was thoughtful, prayerful, reasoned, considered.” The day is not a discouragement to performing public service, however. “What we are hoping that people will do is embody that in their lives…do your five hours at the soup kitchen, then come here and speak these words, and consider what it was that you were doing, and consider what more it is that you are called to do,” says Kinman.

The program will be held from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the nave of the Cathedral. Participants can choose to read aloud, volunteer to man a 30 minute shift, or simply listen at any time during the day.

Douglas Duckworth

In the 32 years she has worked for the Annie Malone Children and Family Service Center, former CEO Angela Starks has always made serving both the community both in and outside of the building her main priority.

She stepped down in December, with her role to be carried on by Darryl Wise, who has worked with Annie Malone for the past five years. When she first began her work as a therapist, Starks was amaze by how dedicated her coworkers were to providing help to their young patrons.

Cbabi Bayoc | 365 Days With Dad

For the past year, artist and businessman Cbabi Bayoc has attempted to create a portrait a day of a father interacting with his kid.

The resulting project, titled “365 Days With Dad,” goes beyond showing fathers who go through the motions of parenthood, and shows engaging and teachable moments.

Wikimedia Commons/Library of Congress

Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr by attending several events that will be hosted throughout the area. Occasions include lectures, discussions, music performances, and marches.

All events are free unless otherwise stated.

Know of another event worth adding? Send to Erin Williams at

January 12

Women Who Dare To Dream

Harris-Stowe State University hosts the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. State Celebration Commission of Missouri’s State Celebration kickoff event. The Trumpet Awards Foundation’s CEO, executive producer, founder, and president Xernona Clayton will deliver the keynote address.

6:30 p.m. Harris-Stowe State University’s Main Auditorium

*January 14

"Monday Movie Madness"

St. Louis Public Library honors the legacy of Dr. King with their weekly movie series. On this day they are screening the documentary “Good Day To Die,” which tells the story of Native American Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement.  Refreshments and discussion to follow.

6 p.m., Schlafly Branch - 225 North Euclid Avenue

January 17

St. Louis Jewish Book Festival presents a discussion with author and Rabbi Ben Kamin and Black Repertory Company founder Ron Himes on civil rights and social justice. Includes presentation in honor of Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis President & CEO Dr. James Buford for his work in helping to solidify African American and Jewish relations.

$8, 7 p.m. at Jewish Community Center’s Staenberg Family Complex

2 Millstone Campus Drive

January 18

"Where Justice & Charity Meet: Fighting Hunger In St. Louis"

A roundtable discussion on fighting hunger in St. Louis, with a keynote address to be given by Jeanne Mott Oxford, executive director of the Missouri Association for Social Welfare.

Norman K Probstein Golf Course, Forest Park

8 a.m. – Noon


Register by emailing

January 18 and 21

“Overcoming Inequality…Embracing Diversity”

Barnes-Jewish and St Louis Children’s Hospitals present Reverend Michele Sue, the first black woman elder ordained in Missouri United Methodism on January 18; and past president and founding member of the National Black Sisters Conference Sister Mary Antona Ebo, FSM, on January 21.

January 18 at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, third floor auditorium

January 21, Noon at the Eric P. Newman Education Center, 320 South Euclid

Noon, with 11:30 a.m. music prelude at both events

(via YouTube video by Erin Williams/St. Louis Public Radio)

(via St. Louis Public Radio video by Erin Williams)

Julian Kussman moved to Saint Louis as a baby and was raised in Jefferson County and O’Fallon. Julian grew up identifying with his Native American heritage,and participated in powwows and other events through the American Indian Center. Now at age 30, he lives in Tower Grove with his wife and cat and works as a graphic designer. In a recorded interview, Julian talked with Erin Williams about keeping his culture and heritage alive despite a seemingly dwindling population.