Andrea Y. Henderson | KBIA

Andrea Y. Henderson

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 covered the arts 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.

Every February, schools around the nation commemorate the accomplishments of African Americans by highlighting them through Black History Month lessons and programs. Some celebrate with school plays, guest speakers or hallway exhibits of locally and nationally known black figures.

Educators like Jameca Falconer, adjunct professor and director of Webster University’s Applied Educational Psychology and School Psychology program, believe it is the duty of parents of all races — as well as the community — to not limit interest in black culture to February.

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.” 

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 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. 

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. 

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.  

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.

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. 

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 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 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.

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 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.

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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

When Harris-Stowe State University President Dwaun Warmack graduated from high school, he had a 1.7 grade-point average and did not think he was college material. Today, Warmack, 42, is one of the youngest presidents of a four-year college in the country.

His journey with Harris-Stowe began in 2014, but come July 31, he will leave the historically black university for Claflin University in South Carolina.

Updated 10:30 a.m., June 10, with comment from the Missouri Sheriffs' Association – In response to the Missouri Attorney General’s Vehicle Stops Report released on Friday, local groups and politicians are calling for accountability from Missouri law enforcement officers.

Leaders reacted to the release of the annual report on Monday morning at Second Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, just three days after the report cited that black motorists of the driving-age population are stopped and searched at far higher rates than any other race.

A local reproductive rights activist says the loss of Missouri's last clinic that provides abortions would be dire for black women.

Pamela Merritt, co-founder of Reproaction and the emcee of the pro-Planned Parenthood rally held on Thursday in downtown St. Louis, said black women will be disportionately impacted if the reproductive health services clinic loses its license to perform abortions.

The Missouri Attorney General's 2018 report on traffic stops shows black drivers were even more likely to be stopped than white drivers compared to the year prior. Statewide in 2018, blacks were 91% more likely than whites to be stopped by law enforcement. That's based on the driving-age population of both groups in the 2010 census. For 2017, the figure was 85%.

In relation to the entire population of Missouri, blacks were stopped at a rate of 76% in 2018 compared to 72% in 2017.

A few years ago, former NFL player-turned-filmmaker, Matthew A. Cherry noticed a plethora of viral videos of young African American fathers styling their daughters' natural hair and bonding with them in gender nonconforming ways.

The videos were far more popular than similar social videos about black fathers connecting with their sons. And that struck Cherry as interesting. Cherry said thousands of users engaged with the videos because people “think this is an anomaly and they have never seen this before.”

“I saw this as a double-edged sword and wanted to normalize it,” Cherry said.

For over a century, the Annie Malone Children and Family Services agency has brought thousands of community members together in the country’s second-largest African American parade: the Annie Malone May Day Parade.

Last Sunday’s procession marked its 109th celebration in downtown St. Louis. Parade viewers saw marching bands, local business owners on floats and peppy cheerleaders throughout Market Street near Union Station.

For the agency, the bash is a yearly celebration to let the public know they are still in the city and willing to serve the needs of a growing community. In recent years, the nonprofit has experienced a drastic change in the type of care families in the area need, said Patricia Washington, the agency’s vice president of development and external affairs.

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