Andrea Y. Henderson | St. Louis Public Radio

Andrea Y. Henderson

“Sharing America” Reporter

Andrea Henderson joined St. Louis Public Radio in March 2019, where she covers race, identity and culture as part of the public radio collaborative Sharing America. Andrea comes to St. Louis Public Radio from NPR, where she reported for the race and culture podcast Code Switch and produced pieces for All Things Considered. Andrea’s passion for storytelling began at a weekly newspaper in her hometown of Houston, Texas, where she covered a wide variety of stories including hurricanes, transportation and Barack Obama’s 2009 Presidential Inauguration. Her art appreciation allowed her to cover arts and culture for the Houston African-American business publication, Empower Magazine. She also wrote arts stories for Syracuse’s Post-Standard and The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina.

Andrea graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and earned her master’s degree in arts journalism from Syracuse University. For three years, she served on the board of the Houston Alliance of Fashion and Beauty as the media chair, and she is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. When the proud Houstonian is not chasing a story, she enjoys catching up on her shows, getting lost in museums and swimming in tropical waters.

Follow her journey through St. Louis via Twitter and Instagram at @drebjournalist.

Ways to Connect

Wes Moore (left), author and CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation spoke with Charli Cooksey (right), CEO of WEPOWER about ways to dismantle poverty not only in St. Louis, but nationally.
Andrea Henderson | St. Louis Public Radio

Poverty and racism should not be discussed separately in St. Louis, author Wes Moore said.

“You can't look at a region like this, and you can’t look at places like my hometown of Baltimore and think that the reason that we have the racial wealth gap is just simply because one group isn't working as hard as the other,” Moore said.

Moore is CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, an anti-poverty organization, and the author of several young adult novels, as well as his bestselling biography, “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates.” 

Concordance Academy of Leadership provides programming to previously incarcerated and incarcerated individuals that will assist with re-entering into society.
Concordance Academy of Leadership

Before being released from prison, Melvin Hill Jr. was doing everything in his power to secure a sustainable job that would allow him to fulfill his lifelong goals. 

Then a friend told him about the local nonprofit Concordance Academy of Leadership. Hill applied while he was still incarcerated. Last May, he was accepted into the program that supports reentry into society after prison.

Recently, the academy received $1 million to advance its mission of reducing recidivism in Missouri and Illinois with a holistic approach to reentry into society.

As the National Park Service's Regional Program Manager for Relevancy, Diversity, and Inclusion, Nichole McHenry's plan is to make all national parks and sites inclusive and diverse.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As a child, Nichole McHenry envisioned herself broadcasting the news, just like famed St. Louis anchor Robin Smith.

Although her dreams of becoming a reporter did not come to fruition, she found a different way to tell stories.

For the past 28 years, McHenry has been sharing the stories of national parks and other connected sites for the National Park Service. McHenry began working full time with the park service right after graduating from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. 

Clean Energy Trust is a Chicago-based organization that advocates for clean tech innovation.
Clean Energy Trust

A Midwest nonprofit and a financial institution are partnering to invest $25,000 in one small energy business to help provide exposure, economic support and mentorship.

The CleanTech Inclusion Award was created to support minorities and women in the white, male-dominated energy space. It focuses on founders who have a product or service that mitigates harmful emissions, reduces carbon or positively impacts the environment. 

Fashion designer Brandin Vaughn cuts fabric for a client's custom suit at Brandin Vaughn Collection, his Cherokee Street storefront and workspace. Dec. 18, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Lisa Hu wants to make St. Louis sexy. Not only in a fashionable way, but with a desirable economic engine. 

Hu's posh, eco-friendly handbag company Lux & Nyx has already been featured in national and local fashion magazines, and the St. Louis venture has only been around for about a year and a half. That’s partly because of her connection to the St. Louis Fashion Fund.  

Unauthorized immigrants in rural areas who seek legal representation can often face roadblocks when trying to find credible lawyers.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Zikrullah Habibi migrated to the St. Louis from Afghanistan in 2014 with his immediate family. He did not have any friends or other relatives in the States to assist with his transition.

Though Habibi, 32, came to St. Louis with a business degree and work experience under his belt, he said his new start had him in a state of confusion. The cultural barriers made it challenging for him to even drive, grocery shop or job hunt.

Harris-Stowe State University is one of 13 four-year public universities in the state and receives the least amount of state appropriations.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Waiel Turner, 20, was not planning on going to college. He thought about entering the U.S. Air Force or becoming a police officer for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. 

Enrolling at Harris-Stowe State University was strictly happenstance.

In 2017, he accompanied a friend to the campus in midtown St. Louis where she was registering for classes. An admissions counselor told Turner he should enroll. Two days later, Turner became a college student. 

Turner said it is the family environment that makes Harris-Stowe home for him. Like many historically black colleges and universities, Harris-Stowe is struggling to keep its tight-knit family of students and staff together in the face of shaky finances and relative lack of state resources. 

Mathews-Dickey Boys' & Girls' Club started out as a baseball program with two neighborhood coaches. The club provided an outlet for young African American children from impoverished neighborhoods in St. Louis.
Mathews-Dickey Boys' & Girls' Club

When the St. Louis Rams football team moved to the city from Los Angeles in 1995, it did not have a practice field. Shortly after a deal with the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club, the team had a facility where players could train.

Former NFL player Brandon Williams, 35, did not have to wait until he was drafted into the league to meet some of his favorite players. He was 11 years old and on the club’s field on North Kingshighway playing catch with a few Rams players like Toby Wright, Ryan McNeil and Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis.

Big Brother Andre Chambers poses with his Little Brother Jabari at a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri outing.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri has a plan. 

By the end of 2019, the organization intends to recruit 90 men to support, mentor and develop 90 "Little Brothers."

Currently, the agency serves about 1,800 young girls and boys. However, there are more than 400 boys still in need of a mentor.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump poses for a photo at St. Louis Public Radio.Oct. 22, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump remembers being bused to a predominantly white school in Lumberton, North Carolina, in 1979. 

Crump and his white classmates played with each other and were cordial in class. Things were very different during lunch hour, however, when segregation became obvious.

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri will provide pro bono legal support to residents and neighborhood associations in Hyde Park, the West End, Old North St. Louis and Academy. The grant money will prevent residents and land owners from displacement.
File Photo | Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

In 2018, Mayor Lyda Krewson’s office found that of the 129,000 properties in the city of St. Louis, about 25,000 were vacant and abandoned.

Beginning this month, residents and community organizations in four high-vacancy neighborhoods will have extra support in reducing that number. 

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM) received a two-year grant from Legal Services Corporation to expand its efforts with its Neighborhood Vacancy Initiative (NVI).

Kevin Cox landed a million-dollar fellowship designed to promote diversity in science. Sept. 2019.
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Kevin Cox Jr., 28, asked a lot of questions as a child. He wanted to know how and why things came to be. 

The plant biologist, a Florissant native, figured his curiosity would take him into the medical field, but at the end of his sophomore year at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, he found a new interest: microbes.

Eventually, his inquisitive nature paid off. In September, he landed a $1.4 million fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The money will fund his work as a plant science fellow at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

To help students cope with environmental stressors, Emerson Academy offers therapy sessions, a specialized curriculum and a violence intervention program. Oct. 2, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Early this spring, Shamyia Ford Jennings, 17, walked with her cousin and a friend to a corner store in north St. Louis. Minutes later, she was in St. Louis Children’s Hospital with a bullet wound in left leg. Her friend had also been shot, in the foot. 

And a couple of summers ago, Devin Smith, 16, was playing basketball on the playground with family members when someone fired shots in his direction. His cousin was hit in the drive-by. 

According to Washington University's Center for Social Development's latest study, predominantly black residents and low-income communities in the region face barriers in casting their ballots.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

While working at polling stations in the St. Louis region for the 2008 presidential election, Gena Gunn McClendon noticed the voting process varied, largely depending on the neighborhood. She observed hours-long wait times, malfunctioning machines and a number of people turned away because they were not registered to vote. 

“As a black woman, I am accustomed to things being a little imbalanced, but I just assumed that when it comes to voting that democracy was fair across the board, especially at the local level,” McClendon said.

A group of more than 20 Jewish organization leaders from around the country, including three from St. Louis pose with in the Mexican Counsel General (at center) in Nogales, Arizona in Sept. 2019.
Rori Picker Neiss

In Nogales, Arizona, there were quiet streets with houses and yards and giant metal beams with razor-sharp wires attached at the top. In Nogales, Mexico, there were kids playing soccer in the schoolyard. These are just a few scenes that Rori Picker Neiss observed on a recent trip to the border.

“We were all just really struck by the scene that we were seeing,” Picker Neiss said. 

Professor and author Jennifer Cobbina interviewed nearly 200 people about their experiences during unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore.
St. Louis University

Jennifer Cobbina found herself deeply affected by the 2014 protests in Ferguson. She called the St. Louis region her home for five years while she worked toward her doctorate at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. 

Just two months after the unrest began, Cobbina, now a Michigan State University criminal justice professor, had the opportunity to explore her concerns about Ferguson and its residents by participating in the Ferguson Research-Action Collaborative project. 

Members of the national organization Remember the 400 gather around the historical marker in Hampton, Virginia, that recognizes the location where the first 20 or so Africans were brought on slave ships.
Naomi Blair

After visiting Point Comfort — present-day Hampton, Virginia — a few weeks ago, Anthony Ross, director of the St. Louis chapter of Remember the 400, said he wants the group to bring more black history to the region. 

The group traveled for 20 hours by bus to Hampton in late August to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of African slaves in America in 1619.

Charli Cooksey (left), founder and CEO of WEPOWER, listens to entrepreneurs Reina Stovall (right) and Dr. Brittany Conners (middle) during one of Elevate/Elevar's focus group meetings on March 13, 2019.
WEPOWER

According to a report by Diversity VC and Rate My Investor, less than 1% of all venture capital funding supports black entrepreneurs and 1.8% of funding backs Latino founders.

The St. Louis organization WEPOWER aims to boost those percentages. Recently, the company initiated Elevate/Elevar, an accelerator program for black and Latino entrepreneurs. The goal is to increase their chances to build wealth and enhance economic growth in their communities. 

Burger 809 on Cherokee Street is one of the restaurants taking part in St. Louis Black Restaurant Week 2019.
Holly Edgell | St. Louis Public Radio

Without support from diners, no restaurant can survive. Frank Williamson, organizer of St. Louis Black Restaurant Week, says attracting customers can be especially challenging for African American eateries.

Highlighting local black restaurants to help them attract customers is the driving force behind the week.

Diners can visit eight restaurants between Sept. 3-8 and enjoy a variety of specials. Williamson wants this week to be a relationship-building experience among restaurateurs, chefs and patrons.

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City, speaks before a crowd of about 500 at a town hall meeting about gun violence on Aug. 28, 2019.
Andrea Henderson | St. Louis Public Radio

More than a dozen children have died from gun violence in St. Louis this year. The deaths were at the heart of a town hall meeting at Harris-Stowe State University on Wednesday night.

The Board of Aldermen's black caucus and U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City, called for immediate action from the federal level to combat gun violence against children. 

“Gun violence is a public health emergency,” Clay said. 

Gov. Mike Parson met with Beloved Streets of America CEO Melvin White on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and Hamilton Avenue to discuss ways to renew the desolate area and bring jobs and quality housing to the area on Aug. 22, 2019.
Andrea Henderson | St. Louis Public Radio

At the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and Hamilton Avenue, there are vacant lots, several abandoned businesses and the construction site of the St. Louis nonprofit, Beloved Streets of America. 

The organization invited Gov. Mike Parson out on Thursday to examine the desolate areas surrounding the 5900 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. Parson walked down the block on Hamilton Avenue with the organization’s CEO, Melvin White.

According to researchers, In August 1619, about 350 Africans were torn from their families and homes in Angola and forced on a Portuguese slave ship. While chained aboard the ship, which was headed to Vera Cruz, Mexico, a group of Dutch pirates captured t
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

During Anthony Ross’ formative years, his family moved around St. Louis and St. Louis County several times. The one constant in his life was education. His mother encouraged him to do well in school, relying on public schools to teach him about African American history. 

Ross said that didn’t happen. His extensive knowledge about St. Louis’ black history and his African ancestors grew out of his own curiosity and his passion for black history. 

"Where The Pavement Ends" sheds light on the decline of the city of Kinloch and how the roadblock contributed to the fall of the city and the killing of Michael Brown Jr.
Jane Gillooly

As a child, filmmaker and artist Jane Gillooly was oblivious to the fact that Ferguson was an all-white town during the Jim Crow era. Gillooly did not realize this until the day she went home with her babysitter. 

Her sitter lived in Kinloch — Missouri's first incorporated black city. It borders Ferguson. 

At the age of 5, her parents had yet to discuss why blacks and whites were segregated, but she recalls asking the sitter, 'Why does everyone look the same in Kinloch?' and her babysitter said, 'Because all these people are Negroes.'"

Earlier this year, Wash U's chancellor Andrew D. Martin announced the institution would open the Center for Race, Ethnicity & Equity this fall. Adrienne Davis, Wash U's vice provost and professor of law, will lead the center as its founding director.
Washington University

A year after the Ferguson unrest, Washington University’s then-Chancellor Mark Wrighton convened a commission to explore what the university could do following the movement. The commission tossed around various ideas, but the primary suggestion was to open a university-wide center to study racial and ethnic disparities. 

Now, five years later, the university plans to open the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity this October with the goal of becoming a national leader in research and learning when it comes to issues of race. 

Adrienne Davis, Wash U’s vice provost and a professor of law, will lead the center as its founding director. She said one reason the university created the space was that St. Louis has become a research destination for examining problems of racism.

According to the 2018 Vehicle Stops Report, black drivers are stopped and searched far more than white drivers. The House Special Committee on Criminal Justice is holding a hearing to discuss solutions to the disparities.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated July 24 — Members of the Missouri House Special Committee on Criminal Justice convened a public hearing in the St. Louis County Council chambers Wednesday to engage with the community about the racial disparities found in the latest Vehicle Stops Report.

Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, the committee chair, opened the hearing with his reflections on the report, released in June. Dogan quickly opened the floor to the public, including testimony from community members, policy directors, law enforcement agents and business owners. 

RukaNade founder Nermana Huskic came to St. Louis in the late 1990s, arriving with family members as refugees after the Bosnian war.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For Nermana Huskić, the seeds of her future as a resource and service provider for homeless people were planted young. 

At the age of 5, Huskić witnessed terror and violent intimidation by Serbian soldiers who barged into her home looking for her father and other male figures. 

It was 1992 and the start of the Bosnian war. The Bosnian Serbs set out to rid the country of its Muslim population and gain desired land. 

A slave ship at the Alexandria, Virginia, waterfront. From a broadside published by the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1836, 200 years after the first slaves arrived in Virginia.
Wikimedia Commons

In August 1619, 20 Africans were chained and unwillingly brought from West Africa to Point Comfort, Virginia, and sold into slavery. Historians point to this date as the beginning of slavery in America.

In 2018, President Donald Trump signed the 400 years of African-American History Commission Act into law. The bill allows for the commission to plan and support organizations with nationwide commemorative activities that acknowledge slavery. 

The national youth-led organization Remember the 400 is an awareness campaign that also honors the first Virginia slaves and their descendants. For the past two years, the St. Louis chapter has connected with the region through community events, black history webinars and informational sessions.

During a four-day conference at Fontbonne University religious sisters under the age of 50, gathered to discuss ways to live boldly in their faith, combat social justice issues and bridge the gap between generations. June 2019
Giving Voices

Giving Voice, a peer-led national organization for nuns and religious sisters under the age of 50, convened for a four-day conference to build bridges between religious life and social justice issues. 

Eighty of the group’s sisters from around the country and other nations worked together at Fontbonne University to push for change within the church and create a cross-generational culture of community and growth.

Among the films in the series is 'The Kinloch Doc' by Alana Woodson, which traces Kinloch's demise.
Paul Sableman | Wikimedia Commons

ArchCity Defenders uses the cash bail system, the death of Michael Brown Jr. and the movements that grew out of the Ferguson unrest to shine light on racial injustice and inequalities with their second annual racial justice film series. 

The law firm will first showcase “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin” on Thursday night at the Kranzberg Arts Center. The film, by Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer, outlines the life of gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who served in the background as an organizer of the civil rights movement.

Better Angels members hold political discussions at a workshop last December.  The organization's president David Blankenhorn said the group uses tactful conversation to dive into opposing political values.
Better Angels

After the 2016 presidential election, David Blankenhorn, president of the national organization Better Angels, wanted to bring voters together to try to find common ground despite their political differences.

Blankenhorn gathered 10 Democratic Party voters and 10 Republican Party voters in South Lebanon, Ohio, to discuss the election and explore how to rebuild a civil society. This groundwork led Blankenhorn to founding his organization.

The group has hosted over 400 community events in the past three years, and will host a three-day convention beginning Thursday at Washington University to tear down political stereotyping and conversation barriers among voters.

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