RISE UP @ Gateway Arch TODAY


Story Stitchers 2.2.19 STAND DOWN RISE UP. DSC_0008

SAINT LOUIS STORY STITCHERS ARTISTS COLLECTIVE

BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019

STAND DOWN / RISE UP

Respect and Redirect

STAND DOWN / RISE UP Respect and Redirect is an exploration of African Americans throughout Missouri’s history that have impacted gun violence.

PERFORMANCE TODAY!

Monday, February 18, 2019

President’s Day

10:00 Juvenile Detention Center (No pubic audience)

2:00 – 3:00 PM Gateway Arch National Park

Mezzanine (Public)

Free and open to the public.

This project is supported by Missouri Foundation for Health, Incarnate Word Foundation, Missouri Humanities Council, and Gateway Arch National Park.

Black Boys Don’t Break


Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 9.01.08 AMSAINT LOUIS STORY STITCHERS ARTISTS COLLECTIVE

BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019

STAND DOWN / RISE UP

Respect and Redirect

STAND DOWN / RISE UP Respect and Redirect is an exploration of African Americans throughout Missouri’s history that have impacted gun violence.

PERFORMANCE

Monday, February 18, 2019

President’s Day

10:00 Juvenile Detention Center (No pubic audience)

2:00 – 3:00 PM Gateway Arch National Park

Mezzanine (Public)

Free and open to the public.

Note: If government is shut down the event will be held at
Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N Grand Blvd, 63103, 2:00-3:00 PM

This project is supported by Missouri Foundation for Health, Incarnate Word Foundation, Missouri Humanities Council, and Gateway Arch National Park.

To see Yohanes perform his poem click HERE

 

“Black Boys Don’t Break”

Yohanes Mulat

 

Black Boys Don’t Break

They aren’t allowed to take a break

Black Boys Don’t Break

It’s always go, go, go, no break

 

Black Boys Don’t Break

They won’t come to the wake

You need to wake up

It’s all made up

 

Black Boys Don’t Break

even if their breaking on the inside

they won’t break down,

they must stand their ground,

because

 

Black Boys Don’t Break

At least that’s what we think

I mean that’s what society allows

 

Black Boys Don’t Break

Because they can’t

They can’t take a break or

They’ll end up broken

 

Black Boys Don’t Break

I know how you feel

But you must learn to deal

Stay strong, I promise you’ll learn to heal,

because

 

Black Boys Don’t Break

We must be strong

So long as we breath

Until we leave

 

Breaking Black Boys

Deal in silence

So it becomes less real

They need not know what happens on the inside,

Because

 

Black Boys Don’t Break

We cannot break

We cannot open up

We cannot speak

Or else we will be considered weak

 

Black Boys Don’t Break

Though they beat you with a melee of attacks

Stay strong because

Black Boys Don’t Crack

 

We are like diamonds

We refine under pressure

We are not glass

For we cannot shatter

 

Breaking Blacks Boy

I know it’s hard

But we don’t have the privilege to break

Because no one is going to put us back together

 

Brocken Black Boy

You cry out

Black Boys Don’t Break

But hide your brokenness,

Behind your body

Your soul lies in shambles

But your body remains still

Till it doesn’t

Till your message that

Black Boys Don’t Break, Breaks

And you’re left with your broken pieces

Hidden behind a veil that no one sees past

 

Broken Black Boy

Hides his pain

Though he knows its futility

But he does so with the knowledge that

Black Boys Don’t Break

 

Our history so rich

Of Black bodies immortalized

For never breaking

Even though this world tried to crush them

 

Some go too far lengths (langs) to

Produces poetic hues (Hughes)

We still dread how they treated Scott

Yet he lay foundation for abolitionist

 

We Missouri cannot compromise our integrity

We must be strong

You and I know very well that

Black Boys Don’t Break

 

That is to say what is a boy

What’s in a man

If not strength

If this boy does not break,

Then does he become man

 

What is to break

As if we cannot be human

Why must we be so strong

When can we be human

 

Why does it have to seem like

Black Boys Don’t Break

As if we are an object

As if we are something so far from human

that having emotions makes us weak

 

This poem be the gateway to my humanity

Where I tell the world I am but a man

And this man cannot be broken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fireworks


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SAINT LOUIS STORY STITCHERS ARTISTS COLLECTIVE

BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019

STAND DOWN / RISE UP

Respect and Redirect

STAND DOWN / RISE UP Respect and Redirect is an exploration of African Americans throughout Missouri’s history that have impacted gun violence.

PERFORMANCE

Monday, February 18, 2019President’s Day

10:00 Juvenile Detention Center (No pubic audience)

2:00 – 3:00 PM Gateway Arch National Park

Mezzanine (Public)

Note: If government is shut down the event will be held at
Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N Grand Blvd, 63103, 2:00-3:00 PM

This project is supported by Missouri Foundation for Health, Incarnate Word Foundation, Missouri Humanities Council, and Gateway Arch National Park.

Antigone Recites to Poem. Click HERE.

Fireworks

by Antigone Chambers-Reed

 

  1. My mother says

Hearing gunshots at night causes PTSD

Furthermore that denial of these claims

Are symptoms of such

I should tell her

The sound of gunshots popping is my

Lullaby at night

That my dreams are plagued with the constant

Bickering

Of two peoples trauma and ego

That sometimes at night

When my heart hurts for the families of this confusion

I imagine color displays

Of fireworks

Pray that a child can see the illusion I created

Instead of a hand holding a gun

Be comforted to sleep at night

  1. When seconds count

And

The police take minutes

Perhaps if they come at all

What will I do for protection?

Maya Angelou says,

A woman needs some sort of protection

But I am not yet a woman and

My biggest advantage is my determination

When the option is to be taken advantage of

Or protect myself

My family

Who steps to a gun fight with a knife

Of sharp tongues, sharp nails, and bitter fight

When my welcome mat has not been laid out willingly

And my bravado

and bravery

have been slammed against the wall

Proper firearm training might stop my heart from quivering

Fright from wrapping its frigid fingers around my knees

“I do like to have guns around”

  1. My family taught my mother and I

How to properly operate a firearm

Both hands on the weapon

Brace yourself

Aim to Maim and not to kill

While necessary

My opposition pushed at

The part of me where I hold my comfort

I pick up a firearm

At the same time

A man picks up a gun

I aim

While he takes off the safety

I take a deep breath out of nervousness

He breathes shallowly and pushes his

Anger, frustration, fear, and self-preservation

Through his gun

Together

We

Pull the trigger

Through my eyes

I hit a can

Through his, a street soldier falls

3 ½. Some part of his resolve withers

And he looks at

His hands

For a second

The misjudgment and guilt

Erases the color from his skin

For an instant, he assumes the power

Of a God

Let’s his fear fall off

Like a coat

Reminisces and wonders

If the soldier’s life

Was worth his own

  1. I view firearm education

As a form of gun control

When the situation is dire

One wrong misstep may cost your

Life

Be it then, or the last times you

Forgot

To clean your gun

I view counseling as a form of gun control

While not the save all to all

Ills of unprocessed emotional luggage

Therapy

Paired with properly maintaining, handling, and cleaning

A firearm

Might have a chance at saving the life of a girl

With the curiosity of a cat

Who dreams of color displays of fireworks

 

 

 

the path towards peace


 

Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective presents Peace in the Prairie, an original performance exploring the concepts of peace and violence, juxtaposing urban life as experienced by African American people living in the city of St. Louis, Missouri and the state’s unique endangered prairie lands. Is the path towards peace through Missouri’s native prairies? 

Saint Louis Story Stitchers is working collaboratively to create an approach to health issues affecting Missouri’s urban youth. Story Stitchers bring the humanities to the forefront through a unique form of “urban storytelling”.

The artistic components for Peace in the Prairie include the creation of music, stories, and video. The new work will represent a collaborative exploration of the psychological and physical differences involved in a peaceful natural environment and an urban environment where violence is common. The resulting work will be unique to Missouri, generated by local artists reflecting on loss, resilience and rejuvenation in nature and in the human experience.

Leading Story Stitchers adult artists in residence Troy Anthony, KP Dennis, Bobby Norfolk, Ntegrity, and Superhood and contributing artist Susan Colangelo will explore the experience of violence affecting black families in St. Louis through organized collaborative learning experiences and sharing, recording some of these stories.

The artists have explored and recorded native prairie land via trips to Missouri prairie reserves including Prairie Day at Shaw Nature Reserve of the Missouri Botanical Garden in Gray Summit, with the Missouri Prairie Foundation at Prairie Star Restoration Farm in Osage County, and Prairie State Park in Mindenmines, Missouri in Barton County near Joplin. During creative sessions, artists will generate a new, original work that will add to the critical artistic discourse, contribute to the archived experiences of the state’s African American community and in addition, archive an endangered natural resource through art.

A public premiere performance followed by a Q&A panel with leading Story Stitchers artists and prairie specialists including Executive Director of Missouri Prairie Foundation, Carol Davit, will take place at the .ZACK Theater on March 21, 2019 at 7:00 PM.

Tickets available on MetroTix

Peace in the Prairie expands the artistic body of work of African American artists in the Collective, addresses the community need of understanding violence while seeking peace, supports the exploration of new natural settings by both artists and audiences, and supports the greater understanding of Missouri’s unique natural heritage in its native prairie lands.

Financial assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a State Agency.

The project is supported by a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. The Foundation is a resource for the region, working with communities and nonprofits to generate and accelerate positive changes in health. As a catalyst for change, the Foundation improves the health of Missourians through a combination of partnership, experience, knowledge, and funding.

The project is also is sponsored in part by Kranzberg Arts Foundation and the .ZACK.

Exploring Missouri


 

Peace in the Prairie expands the artistic body of work of African American artists in the Collective, addresses the community need of understanding violence while seeking peace, supports the exploration of new natural settings by both artists and audiences, and supports the greater understanding of Missouri’s unique natural heritage in its native prairie lands.
Leading artists in residence on this project include KP Dennis, Ntegrity, Troy Anthony, Bobby Norfolk, Demil Johnson aka Superhood, and contributing artist Susan Colangelo.
The public performance followed by a Q&A will take place at the .ZACK Theater, 3224 Locust on Thursday, March 21st, 2019 at 7:00 PM. Carol Davitt, Executive Director of Missouri Prairie Foundation will join artists for the Q&A.
Parental Warning: This project explores issues related to violence.
This project is supported by Missouri Foundation for Health, Missouri Arts Council and Kranzberg Arts Foundation.
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hustilin bumblin being humblin


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Elijah at the Stitchers Storefront Studio during rehearsal

My name is Elijah Foggy and I am a hip hop artist, poet and activist who looks to inspire and touch the hearts of everyone who’s living in the struggle and anyone who is fed up with the world that they are living in and want a way to escape their cruel reality. I was constantly looking for an organization or a group or SOMETHING that I could join where I could share my vision with people who really need to hear it and my mom got me on the Story Stitchers after she saw a flier on Facebook that the Story Stitchers had posted looking for new artists and poets and performers that send out a positive message about St. Louis and they were hosting auditions for these artists. I saw this as my chance and I jumped on it right away so my mom took me to the audition and I performed my song “Why They Mad” which is basically asking why society was mad at black men and woman like me who just want to be successful and are willing to do everything that they can to make sure that they WILL be successful. To my pleasant surprise the Story Stitchers panel LOVED my rap! I had exceeded their expectations and they were all excited to work with me to refine my skills.

They proceeded to tell me about their latest project “STAND DOWN RISE UP” which is about outlining African Americans in Missouri history that have impacted gun violence or the root causes of violence such as biases, mental illness, police brutality, intergenerational poverty, segregation and slavery through poetry and music. I addressed the ENTIRE black community and how we can rise up above those biases and gun violence as a collective GROUP. Though the assignment was simple enough, conveying this message was the hardest task for me. If you were to ask me to sit down with you and tell you about my views on this topic I could ramble on all day because this topic is very special to me, but conveying my message through poetry was a different story. I was faced with the challenge of putting all of my thoughts in one song and also making it meaningful so that it can touch the hearts of EVERYONE who listens, NOT just me. It took some hard work but eventually I came out with a piece that I can honestly say is one of the greatest pieces that I have ever written and I sincerely hope that others will feel the same way that I felt when I was writing it.

I am looking forward to engaging in many future endeavors with the Story Stitchers, their warm hospitality made me feel welcome and it made me feel as if I belonged. One thing that I loved about Story Stitchers was that once I got settled in the group they treated me as if I was part of the group for YEARS; they treated me as part of the family!!! My fellow Story Stitchers artists were very respectful and were quick to help me with my song or just talk about our lives. The Story Stitchers staff were some of the nicest folks that I have ever met. Ntegrity is the audio engineer who was quick to help me with my rapping skills and give any knowledge that he had outside of music. Mrs. C, their president made the transition into the group super easy and she was also a great person to talk to in learning all that I could about Story Stitchers. Merlin Bell their director was quick to offer his wisdom and his gratitude and praise for my music and just be a good friend to talk to about life and other issues in the world. One pleasant surprise that I was hit with was when Mrs. C informed me about the STL Youth Jobs Summer Program and I quickly applied.

In closing I can honestly say that I am super excited to work with the Stitchers and do future performances and gain knowledge and love. Story Stitchers is the very thing that I was looking for when I set out to look for a way to touch my city with my music. Thank you for this gracious opportunity Stitchers! I promise that I will never let you guys down!!! 🙂

 

Excerpt from

“Why They Mad”

Can you tell me why they mad cuz i need to know?

Im out here chasing the bag because I can’t be broke.

These peeps are looking at me like I’m a criminal.

They see me making that green they think I’m slanging dope.

Cuz i’m a young black male tryna make it out the hood

I swear to God my people are so misunderstood.

Im tryna make my mama proud tryna get it how I live it

Not like these trick people messing around being slick with it gets wit it

I’m getting an education man i’m trying to be successful

I’m tryna make a statement I ain’t trying to be stressful.

My mama raised me right she ain’t raise no fool.

I know they want to see me fail but what they hate gon do?

I rise above it, man that stuff don’t mean nothing don’t catch me bluffin

I’ve been hustilin bumblin being humblin doing it for the ones that are out here strugglin

Working that nine to five the ones that were down to ride

The ones that gave their lives kept their heads up high to the sky

Clinging to the hope for a better tomorrow free from the sorrow and pain

Not having to worry about digging no graves able to maintain

Some type of piece and some clarity the type of clarity that only comes in a rarity

These are the people who never lost hope.

Cuz they knew Gods wherever they go.

 

//hook: That’s how it is that’s how it is being in this world that I’m in.

That’s how it is that’s how it is coming from the place that I live (x2)

————-

STAND DOWN RISE UP

Resect and Redirect

The February 2nd program will take place at the 23rd Annual St. Louis Association of Community Organizations Conference and will also feature Story Stitchers Artists in Residence Bobby Norfolk, Master Storyteller and hip hop artist KP Dennis. All programs include a Q&A.

This program is presented for Black History Month with support from Missouri Foundation for Health, Missouri Humanities Council, The Incarnate Word Foundation, and Gateway Arch National Park.

 

February 2, 2019

10:40-11:55 AM

St. Louis Association of Community Organizations

23rd Annual Neighborhood Conference

St. Louis Community College at Forest Park

Register HERE

 

February 18, 2019

10:00 -11:00 AM (Private Presentation)

City of St. Louis Juvenile Detention Center

 

February 18, 2019

2:00-3:00 PM

Gateway Arch National Park

“Nothing beats a failure but a try.”


Saint Louis Story Stitchers reflect today, Monday, January 21, 2019, the 6th Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday since the Story Stitchers was founded in August of 2013.

Today, as was the story 6 years ago, although a child born anywhere in St. Louis, Missouri may be well-loved, the child does not enter the world of equality of which Dr. King had dreamed.

Dr. Jason Purnell, director of Health Equity Works notes, “There are two St. Louis communities — 9 miles between them yet worlds apart. A child born in Clayton can expect to live 18 years longer than a child born in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood in North St. Louis.”

Eighteen years old is the average age of the youth at Story Stitchers. This is a tragic and preventable loss.

Jeff-Vander-Lou is the home of Story Stitchers partner organization, Tillie’s Corner Historical Project. Tillie’s Corner is located at 1349 N Garrison Ave 63106. Each summer Story Stitchers artists join with Carla and Miguel Alexander and members of the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood to bring health resources to the people during a locally-generated Block Party as part of the Story Stitchers Pick the City UP tour.  Jeff-Vander-Lou is a neighborhood marked by history, by love and family, by loss and agony, by children, community gardens and churches, by poverty, hunger, gun violence and suffering. Jeff-Vander-Lou is a neighborhood bursting with note-worthy stories.

A drive through Jeff-Vander-Lou will help one understand the disparity that is the current version of St. Louis. Resources are scarce. Grocery stores are not found here. Children must be in before dark when tires screech and guns are fired. The local elementary school may soon be closed, leaving a massive building in the center of the neighborhood and directly across the street from Tillie’s Corner vacant, inviting vandalism.

A day in Jeff-Vander-Lou will help one understand the beauty of the people who live there and can help one understand what each one of us can do with our neighbors to  shrink the disparity of those 18 years of life lost to the child born here.

 

“Nothing beats a failure but a try.” — Miss Tillie

Pay attention and encourage others to do so

Donate to a charity that works with or supports local youth

Mentor a child or youth

Support and attend activities where youth present

Sponsor a youth field trip, a community garden plot or a Story Stitchers program

Read to a child

Volunteer at a local school

Story Stitchers have been working this month to prepare a new body of work. The program is called “STAND DOWN RISE UP Respect and Redirect.”  The presentation features seven young local African American poets who are ages 16-21. The program looks back at African Americans throughout Missouri’s history who have effected violence or the causes of violence such as bias, poverty, self awareness and self esteem, mental illness, police brutality, or segregation.

The February 2nd program will take place at the 23rd Annual St. Louis Association of Community Organizations Conference and will also feature Story Stitchers Artists in Residence Bobby Norfolk, Master Storyteller and rap artist KP Dennis. All programs include a Q&A. The Conference is a good way to learn about our neighbors throughout the city.

This program is presented for Black History Month with support from Missouri Foundation for Health, Missouri Humanities Council, The Incarnate Word Foundation, and Gateway Arch National Park.

February 2, 2019

10:40-11:55 AM

St. Louis Association of Community Organizations

23rd Annual Neighborhood Conference

St. Louis Community College at Forest Park

Register HERE

 

February 18, 2019

10:00 -11:00 AM (Private Presentation)

City of St. Louis Juvenile Detention Center

 

February 18, 2019

2:00-3:00 PM

Gateway Arch National Park

STL YOUTH JOBS Applications OPEN


Saint Louis Story Stitchers is a proud partner organization of STL Youth Jobs.

Paid summer work in community arts and social practice, performing, nonprofit business, song writing, recording, documenting, marketing, photography, and more.

It’s time to apply! First come-first served so don’t delay. Check your eligibility and apply today.

APPLY HERE

Who is Eligible?

✔ Youth between the ages of 16-24

✔ Resident of the Baden, Bevo Mill, Carr Square, Columbus Square, Dutchtown, Fairgrounds, Gravois Park, Greaterville, Kingsway East, Kingsway West, Mark Twain, Mark Twain I-70 Industrial, O’Fallon, Penrose, The Ville, Tower Grove East, Walnut Park East, Walnut Park West, and Wells Goodfellow neighborhoods of St. Louis City, as well as North St. Louis County (address verification is required)

 

Young Poets RISE UP


STAND DOWN / RISE UP Respect and Redirect is an exploration of African Americans throughout Missouri’s history that have impacted gun violence by young poets ages 16-24 who currently reside in St. Louis city or county.

STAND DOWN RISE UP poets are busy preparing new work for the performances which will feature Brandon Lewis, Emeara Burns, AnnaLise Cason, LaShonda Givens, Tylea Wilson, Rachel Jones, Elijah Foggy and Antigone Chambers Reed. Workshops are underway with Story Stitchers Artists in Residence KP Dennis, Ntegrity and Merlin Bell, the new director.

KP Dennis will perform his original song, “Dred Scott” at all performances and Artist in Residence and Master Storyteller Bobby Norfolk will perform a story on the theme at the SLACO Conference performance. All performances followed by Q&A discussion.
XXX
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
XXX
Saturday, February 2, 2019
SLACO 23rd Annual Neighborhood Conference
Register HERE
10:30 AM-12:00 noon
St. Louis Community College at Forest Park
Student Union
XXX
Monday, February 18, 2019
Juvenile Detention Center  (Private performance) and
Gateway Arch National Park
Mezzanine
2:00-3:00 PM
XXX
This project is supported by Missouri Foundation for Health, Incarnate Word Foundation, Missouri Humanities Council, and Gateway Arch National Park.

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Welcome Director Merlin Bell


 

Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is pleased to announce that Merlin L Bell has joined the Collective as the inaugural Steward Family Foundation Director.

Merlin Bell is a social justice artist early in a very promising career.

He grew up in North St. Louis and graduated from Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. Bell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater from Denison University in Ohio in 2015 and a Master of Arts in Theater in 2017 from Fontbonne University.

He has gained experience at the Shakespeare Festival, Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis Repertory Theater, Inspire St. Louis at Wyman, the Nine Network, and at the Missouri History Museum where he worked on the Civil Rights exhibition through performance and work with their teen theater group.

The video shows Merlin’s first day at Saint Louis Story Stitchers on January 5th, 2019, where Open Auditions for the Pick the City UP Tour were taking place.

Our sincerest thanks to the Steward Family Foundation, Ken and Nancy Kranzberg, Yvette and John Dubinsky and the many friends who are joining in to help make the directorship a reality.

We are super excited and ready to grow!!!