Agent of deliverance, catalyst for healing by the Reverend Eric Battle

Growing up in St. Louis and in a sanctified church, I became very adept at sneaking around. I could not sow my wild oats in front of my parents who fully endorsed the message found in Proverbs 13:24: that sparing the rod creates a spoiled child. So, to spare myself from the rod, I was […]

Moving from under-served to well-deserved communities by Andra Lang Jr

In high school, I was selected to be a part of a group of individuals who were mentored by  undergraduate students at Washington University in St. Louis for two semesters. This experience had a huge impact on my growth as a youth. This gave me a sense of confidence that I needed to pursue higher […]

Serving on the front lines in St. Louis by Cory Mitchell

I didn’t choose social work, but I did choose to work in the greater St. Louis community once social work chose me. Since September 2018 I have worked for BJC Behavioral Health as a senior community support specialist. Our project is called emergency room enhancement. The team I am a part of is interagency, and […]

I am my brother’s keeper by Tony Gunn Jr.

I grew up in an abusive turned single-parent household and then became a role model to my son, brother, little cousins, niece, and nephew whose fathers weren’t around. This put a lot of pressure on me. Inevitably, I built up this societal depiction of masculinity where you limit your cries, take a hit and show […]

When I started making good decisions by Howard Hughes

I spent most of my childhood growing up in John DeShields Projects in East St. Louis and the rest of my adolescent years growing up in the streets of St. Louis. In both I had my fair share of gang and gun violence, and I lost friends and family to both. I even had my fair […]

We have to lead the dialogue about us by Chauncey Nelson

We had learned to make a way for ourselves, when there was nowhere to go. We developed a means to living without knowing what we were living for. We had created a purpose for ourselves when no one was giving us any opportunities. The world had shown us how much it valued us, and we […]

Finding the king within by Kaylan D. Holloway

One morning, I woke up to “go home ni**er” written on the bathroom mirror. The next morning someone spread cotton balls across the lawn and entrance of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center. Later that day, a professor asked students what city and high school we came from. When I said I had graduated from Saint […]

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, […]

I am grateful for having kept my pledge By Malik Ahmed

I am grateful to be alive and in relatively good health. Many black men who were born and raised under impoverished conditions don’t live long enough to tell their story of overcoming the many obstacles that clogged their path and the joy of the journey. I am grateful to have been raised by a loving […]

Learning to nurture by Marcel Scaife

I grew up in a two-parent, two-income household in Jennings. I would say I had it pretty good.  In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, Jennings was a great place to be. I can remember my dad taking me to Northland or River Roads to shop. I had white classmates and white neighbors. I understood […]

From destruction to responsibility By Farrakhan Shegog

Growing up, I was told St. Louis makes people tough. It was said people came from all over the country to St. Louis to gain street credit. Today, we have many young black males in St. Louis fleeing to other cities to escape the tragedy of St. Louis. I spent most of my childhood in […]

Living for myself and Demetri by Tyshon Sikes

I grew up without my biological father. Not having that portion of my life caused distress and anger. I was constantly getting in trouble at school and at home to get my anger out. I moved in with my grandfather when I was 4 years old because he spoiled me and I enjoyed being with […]

Reviving forgotten communities by Cyril D. Loum

Upon arrival in the United States, my parents had their funding as missionaries discontinued because they chose to be with their children away from a war-torn country. This meant that our food came from food banks and clothing from co-ops, which ended up providing us with the necessary resources to survive. Survival also was based […]

Fulfilling the expectations of a man by Chester A. Deanes Jr.

My parents migrated to St. Louis from Aberdeen, Mississippi, expecting to build a good life for us. A year later, Daddy left us. He sent us Easter clothes and trunks full of toys during Christmas. He was not present and involved, but he sent packages! When I was 10, one Saturday after working her second […]

How I learned to be a leader By Jerrel Sibert

On September 23, 2005, a black male was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and my parents named me Jerrel Sibert. Growing up I was a pretty privileged black kid who always had a lot of toys and entertainment. So I never knew the issues that were going on around me in my own city, like […]

Investment in black males pays off by Kelvin J. Taylor Sr.

While 66 percent of African-American children live in single-parent households, black students attend disproportionately underfunded schools, and black juveniles are 5 times more likely to be incarcerated than their white counterparts, we are neither predisposed nor destined for bad outcomes. The black men in my circle are pastors, bankers, philanthropists, successful entrepreneurs, corporate officers and […]

Beyond fear of the black male By Curtis O’Dwyer

On August 15, 2014, the day after celebrating new beginnings by proposing to my wife, I returned to my city in turmoil. Many mourned the death of Michael Brown. The raw footage on the news and social media outlets depicted outrage and uprising. Ferguson was in a state of emergency, and I was only five […]

Saving our sons – and all our students by Michael P. McMillan

As the new school year begins we need to see what has changed in our educational system, especially for African Americans. For the first time in many years, the responsibility of educating students is returning to the states. The U.S. Department of Education has approved Missouri’s state plan for public education under the Every Student […]

The black man who survived education by Luther O. Tyus

I will never forget what my Riverview Gardens elementary principal, Denis Dorsey, told my parents. He told my parents that I wasn’t smart enough for college. I didn’t have what it took, he said. I was in the second grade, and I had already developed a healthy dislike for school.  Sure, I wasn’t a model […]

Learning to beat the cheat By Mike Jones

When I was 12 or 13 years old, my father gave me some advice that became the compass for my journey through this American life. He said, “Michael, if you’re going to gamble, the first thing you have to do is learn to cheat. Not so you can cheat people, but so you’ll know when […]

My journey to training responsible fathers by Halbert Sullivan

During my religious upbringing, I was taught, “Train up the child in the way they should go and they will not depart from it.” These words help set the foundation for the work I do. I believe that effective parenting plays a major role in the emotional and psychological development of a child. Children are […]

When black men stop smiling by Stefan Bradley

“How’s the team going to be this year?” was one of the first questions I heard as I began my college career at a private predominantly white institution (PWI). To be fair, I am relatively tall, so I accommodated the query of the friendly white student. I said that the team would be great and […]

Fathers Support Center helped Mark Seymore double his income by Jordan Wade

‘He just needed someone to point him in the right direction’ Mark Seymore grew up in a neighborhood that police have labeled as one of the highest crime areas in the region, around Page and Goodfellow boulevards in North St. Louis. “There wasn’t a lot of role models or anything positive to follow,” Seymore said. […]

How 400 days in Ferguson changed my life by Bruce Franks Jr.

August 9, 2014 changed my life. That date is burned into our memory as the day Michael Brown was killed. But it’s also the date my son, King, turned 1. So we’re getting ready for his get-together – blowing up balloons, firing up the barbecue – when my social media starts going crazy. I get […]

I. Am. A. BLACK. Man. By Rev. Starsky D. Wilson

Fifty years ago, a group of under-appreciated, underpaid black men who kept the city of Memphis healthy by purging its streets of waste, refuse and trash had to remind elected leaders and city fathers that they were indeed human. They held placards in public calling for basic dignity, stating simply “I Am A Man.” Four […]