Stitchers Youth Council Spotlight: AnnaLise

The Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective, a 501(c)(3) organization, is professional artists and inner-city youth grades ages 16-24, working together to create social change with a focus on gun violence prevention.

Stitchers collect local stories, reframe and retell them through art, writing and performance to promote understanding, civic pride, intergenerational relationships and literacy.

Story Stitchers are artists-in-residence at Kranzberg Arts Foundation in the vibrant Grand Center Arts District and run a Storefront Studio for publishing at 616 N Skinker Blvd. in the historic Loop District.

Meet AnnaLise, a member of the Stitchers Youth Council…

Saint Louis Story Stitchers.2019.IF8A7521

AnnaLise is a sophomore at Fontbonne University studying art and social work. She joined Stitchers Youth Council as a STL Youth Jobs intern in 2018 and has been active ever since. She enjoys photography, writing and poetry as well as performance arts.

AnnaLise performs on the tracks of Who’s Ready? and Good For Your Health and created a poem called, “Roll Call, Please” for Story Stitchers Black History Month performances.


Roll Call, Please
Roll call, please…

Our ancestors are here!
They waited long enough for others to listen,

But I am the chosen one,

And it is time to make things clear.
It is time to spit it all out,

So take a seat,

Don’t look that way,

Because ya’ll know what I’m talking about.
A wise woman once said,

That challenges make you discover things about yourself.

That you already knew.
So why are we acting like all of this is untrue?
Dred Scott valiantly stands on my right side,

With Charles Alfred Anderson Sr. in the sky,

Because Cathay Williams taught us how to walk with pride,

Margaret Bush Wilson has sworn her hand on the Bible,

Tell me how can I lie?


We reign with eminence,

Have graced this Earth with every breath we utter,

We are known to make it to high places,

Coming straight from the gutter.


We come from self-made beings,

Like Annie Malone,

And Red Foxx too,

But it’s no laughing matter,

About the amazing things we can do!
We are capable of so much more,

Than the selfless inflictions we take part in,

You see, we block our blessings when we give in to sin.
Roll call, please…

Our ancestors are here!
If we truly want the change for ourselves,

We must stand down, and know that there’s nothing to fear.
This is a call to action!

Our ancestors are here!
Roll call, please…

It is time for us to rise up and persevere!

Stitchers Youth Council. IF8A5398

AnnaLise said, “ I enjoy being part of Story Stitchers because it has changed my world view entirely. I see myself as more of an activist than I originally perceived myself to be. I feel like I can actually utilize the voice that I have now because I am not only saying what I feel from my heart but I am also saying what needs to be in everyone’s hearts. For example, mental health awareness and how it impacts all of us— all races, genders, and age groups. Food insecurity and food deserts is another topic I work with in the group. Though I grew up in a food desert, I am now more aware of the need for literacy about the issue.”

“I think Story Stitchers can go anywhere we set our minds to go. All we need is the support of you all to get us there. I would like to see and hear our work in classrooms and on radios, even in movies. Our impact could change the narrative that older generations have about us when it comes to us expressing our opinions on things that they believe we are unqualified for like politics, finances, public safety, and racial equality. Also we work to impact our peers because we understand the societal pressures that we place on each other and that come from poverty and racial inequality.

In the song Who’s Ready? we wrote,”Put the gun down, get up and join this movement!” encouraging our peers to make a safer choice when it comes to their thought processes in stressful situations. In a way, we have two weapons–our guns and our phones. We can either end a life with a bullet or we can bring forth new conversations and build understanding.”


The goal for all Story Stitchers projects is to promote a better educated, more peaceful and caring region through storytelling. A core creative group of professional artists and African American youth generate original work through a unique form of “urban storytelling” that includes hip hop, spoken word, photography and videography and disseminate new works through public presentations and performances. The Collective’s body of work focuses on gun violence prevention and topics related to public health issues.

Story Stitchers’ programs are driven by the interests and concerns of low-income, black youth and as a result have focused on gun violence since 2014. Gun violence is a pressing public health crisis that consumes the attention of the engaged youth. Youth have the opportunity to work through their pain and loss and be a force multiplier, impacting families, schools and neighborhoods.

Stitchers is committed to placing youth at the center of the work both in identifying topics for exploration as well as the methods for engagement. This approach builds a community of youth and professional artists who respect one another. We are proud that our primary method for recruiting new youth is word of mouth from their peers.

The Collective meets with youth year-round and has presented publicly over 150 times, engaging a diverse audiences of over 18,000.

Together, we can do so much more for our at risk youth in Saint Louis. Please make a gift today to support Saint Louis Story Stitchers in the New Year—and beyond.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!