My journey from convict to mentor By Demetrius Evans

From age 7 to 33 I was in and out of the juvenile and adult prison systems. I remember a traumatic and lifetime-humbling experience with police officers with our guns drawn and their K-9 dog simultaneously chewing on my ankles. I could have died that day. A police officer could have died that day. I […]

We can build stronger children By Orv Kimbrough

To focus my thoughts, I sought the help of friends by asking, “What is needed for us to create the conditions for more black boys and men to be successful?” Across age, gender and race, the answers aligned along similar themes, from supporting two-parent stable families, to bestowing higher esteem and compensation on the best […]

I chose education as my path By Xavier Blackwell

As a St. Louis native, I wasn’t surrounded by individuals as an adolescent who shared my current mindset that anything is possible. Growing up in North St. Louis on Natural Bridge and Newstead, I wasn’t surrounded by individuals who looked like me and were accomplishing positive goals. Instead, I was surrounded by unfortunate distractions that […]

How I found a way through By Joseph Smart

Outside of going to church and school, I was basically a homebody. I rarely could go anywhere with my friends. When I did go outside, I would always have to stay in the front of the house. I thought that my mother was real strict. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized she […]

Algorithms and African-American life by William F. Tate

During the early 1990s, I served on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. As was the custom, I presented the early version of a paper to my colleagues. The paper asserted that the use of mathematics and statistics in our democratic society is often linked to an attempt by one group seeking […]

I try to help out and give back By RaJae Johnson

I am a 20-year-old African-American male born and raised in the ghetto of St. Louis. I graduated from Jennings Senior High School, where I was a three-sport athlete (football, basketball and baseball) and received a lot of local attention for it. I dealt with a lot of stuff because of my skin color, on and […]

Moving ‘Beyond Jobs’ to regional change By Jason Watson

Nobody is shocked that life is dark in parts of our city. But not everyone has walked the walk and lived the life to understand how hopeless it really can seem. Growing up in Walnut Park, in the heart of North St. Louis, the youngest of 10 kids in a single-parent home, I know what […]

We must heal black men to heal our region By Mikel Whittier

Before my first day of kindergarten I bore a scar on my forehead from being hit with a beer bottle. While my mom panicked, I stood there emotionless as blood ran down my face. I had developed the skill to internalize my emotions for protection. I carry memories of observing drug sales and drug use, […]