Timeline of Change

Stories change based on when you choose to start the telling. We know that our region’s current state has been informed by hundreds of years of history. And yet, for us, this important chapter begins just a few months before August 9, 2014 with the launch of the For the Sake of All report.

As WE look at this timeline we are reminded that Dr. King said “our nation has constantly taken a positive step forward on the question of racial justice and racial equality. But over and over again at the same time, it made certain backward steps. And this has been the persistence of the so called white backlash."

We see cause for optimism every day - and We Stories is only one of many contributors to regional momentum - but the real question is: What would it take for YOU to believe now is the time and we are the generation to break the cycle of inequity?

What will it take to make change go from possible to probable?

As YOU look at this timeline we invite you to consider:

2014.

May 30, 2014. The landmark report For the Sake of All: A Report on the Health and Well-Being of African Americans in St. Louis—And Why It Matters for Everyone, is released on May 30, 2014 at a community conference at the Missouri History Museum. It gives the region scores of critical outcome data about the disparities between White and Black St. Louisans, such as an 18 year life expectancy gap between two nearby zip codes.

Aug 9, 2014. Michael Brown, Jr. is shot and killed by a Police Officer in Ferguson, MO

Aug - Dec 2014. Ferguson Uprising. Months of sustained protests by community members and leaders on the streets of Ferguson and elsewhere in St. Louis city captures the attention of the nation and region.

Oct 8, 2014. VonDerrit Myers is shot and killed by a police officer in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis city. Regional protests against police brutality strengthen.

Nov 18, 2014. Gov. Jay Nixon creates The Ferguson Commission to conduct a “thorough, wide-ranging and unflinching study of the social and economic conditions that impede progress, equality and safety in the St. Louis region.”

2015.

Jan - Sept 2015. The Ferguson Commission holds 38 public meetings and engages thousands of area residents to outline both their primary concerns and their vision for the future. Much of the region is publicly grappling with truths and root causes behind our racial inequity. Much of the region is still silent.

April, 2015. Laura and Adelaide meet in person and talk about how they are lacking the resources they need to bring a conversation about current events and racism to their young children (then ages 5, 4, 3, 1, and 1) and lament the absence of a parenting community also involved in anti-racism work.

May - Aug 2015. Laura and Adelaide begin to break silence about racism in their communities, seeking to engage more families in a conversation about justice. Despite the pervasive silence they had experienced, a surprising number of friends are interested in how to expand their own family conversations about racism and begin to engage with regional initiatives.

Sept 2015. The Ferguson Commission releases “A Path Forward” - a story-forward report with 189 calls to action necessary to move our region toward equity. Among other things the Ferguson Commission Report stated, “Change requires different choices, different decisions, different actions. Change requires new effort, new relationships, new habits. Change requires letting go of the known and wading through the unfamiliar found in the dark of the unknown.” We [Laura and Adelaide ] want to do our part to be a part of the change.

Aug - Oct 2015. Laura and Adelaide - fueled by endless coffee, conversation and text messages - begin to shape a program and organizing model intended to help catalyze White parents based on a particular theory of change.

Oct 2015. Laura and Adelaide run 3 focus groups with a total of 38 parents who are enthusiastic about participating in a program intended to increase family conversations about racism using children’s books.

Nov 2015. 120 children are enrolled in the We Stories Pilot Program in less than 48 hours, and the ever-expanding waitlist begins.

Dec 2015. We Stories launches a website and begins to incorporate as an organization and file for non-profit status.

2016.

February 2016. Pilot Program concludes. Participating families indicate that they aren’t close to done and want more. Our ongoing family community is officially constituted and more seeds of opportunity begin to sprout.

March 2016. St Louis County Library announces a partnership with We Stories. They purchase additional copies of books featured in our curriculum and roll out We Stories Library Kits for families, featuring diverse books, toys, activities and discussion prompts. Circulation of We Stories titles soars region-wide.

April 2016. We Stories obtains non-profit status! We Stories launches 2nd and 3rd cohorts (Bravo and Charlie). We Stories is featured in the Post-Dispatch; and on St. Louis on the Air; the waitlist begins to grow exponentially.

May 2016. We Stories launches 4th and 5th cohorts (Delta and Echo).

July 5, 2016. Alton Sterling is shot and killed by police officers in Louisiana.

July 6, 2016. Philando Castile is shot and killed by police officers Falcon Heights, MN outside of St. Paul/Minneapolis.

July 7-8, 2016. 116 St. Louis area families join the We Stories waitlist in less than 48 hours after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Sept 2016. Kirkwood Public Library installs a collection of We Stories Library kits.

Oct 3, 2016. We Stories is invited to South by South Lawn, a convening for social innovators, at the White House. We delivered to President Obama a copy of his children’s book Of Thee I Sing with an original poem inscribed and the signatures of hundreds of St. Louis school children.

Nov 8, 2016. Donald Trump is elected President of the United States.

Nov 13, 2016. We Stories launches its 6th cohort (Foxtrot) with a retooled Family Learning Program curriculum that focuses on helping families get started, go deeper, and build the kind of community that can work together for change.

Dec. 1, 2016. We hold our first community Town Hall to process the recent election and collective reaction to the election and national rhetoric about race and difference. A practice of regular community-building, processing, rejuvenation, accountability, and alignment is born. Bi-monthly Town Halls continue to be an important community hub and space for collective work.

2017.

Jan, 2017. In his second to last day in office, Barack Obama signs the copy of Of Thee I Sing and sends it back to We Stories. It is our most prized possession!

March, 2017. We Stories launches its 7th cohort (Golf).

May 11, 2017. We Stories is honored with a What’s Right with the Region award for emerging initiatives. We Stories also surprises everyone with a photo-finish in Give STL Day, a local 24-hour fundraising competition by garnering more than 285 unique donors, placing 1st in our category.

July, 2017. We Stories launches its 8th cohort (Hotel) and is awarded St Louis Magazine’s A-List Reader’s Choice Award in Kids & Family.

Sept 15, 2017. 100 days of sustained protest begins in St. Louis after Police Officer Jason Stockley was found not-guilty in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.

Sept - Dec 2017. More than 75 members from our community support the sustained protests, many of whom were engaging in protest or civil disobedience for the first time. Another 65 committed to a group reading of the Ferguson Commission Report, analyzing the strongest intersections for community support and mobilization.

Nov 6, 2017. We Stories Goes to School programming begins to help support parents who have become active advocates for equity in their school communities. Across a series of gatherings more than 25 school communities were represented. These events present an opportunity to connect across institutions, share community building techniques, and reflect on effective anti-racism advocacy practices.

Dec 21, 2017. Ali Michael, a leading anti-racism scholar visits St. Louis and speaks with the broader We Stories community.


2018.

Jan 25th, 2018. Researcher Brigette Vittrup, whose work on racial socialization and bias was featured in the best seller Nurture Shock, visits St. Louis and speaks with the broader We Stories community.

Jan, 2018. We Stories launches its 9th cohort (India).

March, 2018. We Stories presents at the national Public Library Association conference in partnership with St. Louis County Library.

April, 2018. A second report from Health Equity Works (formerly For the Sake of All) is released, this time focusing on housing. Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide presents more than a century of local, state, and federal policies that have contributed to a disturbing geography of segregated housing in the St. Louis region, as well as data and human stories detailing how this geography of inequity jeopardizes the health and well-being of many residents throughout the region. One of the final stories profiles a We Stories family who shares that “We Stories has changed the way she views St. Louis. It has changed the way she talks to her children. And it has changed the way she spends her philanthropic money and volunteer time.”

May, 2018. We Stories launches its 10th cohort (Juliet).

May, 2018. We Stories participates in Give STL Day for a second year leveraging community stories about particular moments such as “when I knew I had to talk to my kids about race”. Again succeeds in galvanizing tremendous support from our community, including 404 unique donors, placing first in our category!

May 29, 2018. Adelaide delivers the commencement speech at Fontbonne University.

June 28, 2018. We Stories publishes an OpEd in the St. Louis American entitled “Segregation in St. Louis hurts whites too” as part of a series on the Dismantling the Divide Report.

July 24, 2018. We Stories and Dr. Kira Banks co-host a webinar with Embrace Race.

July 26, 2018. Laura co-leads a response to a racial profiling incident in Clayton, MO with much support from the We Stories community.

Aug - Oct, 2018. We Stories create an 80-in-80 campaign aimed at increasing community cohesion across our nearly 800 families. 20 volunteers engage 80 past participants in high-touch interactions to gather stories of impact and intention.

Sept, 2018. We Stories launches its 11th cohort (Kilo).

2019...and Beyond.

January, 2019. We Stories launches its 12th cohort (Lima!!) We Stories is now supporting through its Family Learning Program alone more than 800 families with approximately 1,500 children across 86 zip codes in the St. Louis region.

February 3, 2019. We Stories co-sponsors a Housing Advocacy Fair detailing various engagement opportunities based on the Dismantling the Divide report released in 2018 by Health Equity Works.

February, 2019. We Stories launches a partnership with the Heart Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

April 1-2, 2019. Dr. Margaret Hagerman, author of White Kids: Growing Up Privileged in a Racially Divided America, visits St. Louis and speaks to broader We Stories Community. More than 400 people show up!

May, 19 2019. We Stories launches its 13th cohort (Mike). We Stories community nears 900 families!

Aug, 2019. We Stories invited to present to national researchers on bias about our approach.

Aug, 2019. St. Charles County Library begins offering We Stories kits and materials in its branches.

Aug, 2019. We Stories is featured in the In St. Louis Project, a dedicated retrospective on the 5 years since Michael Brown’s death.

Oct, 2019. Early research results demonstrating reduced bias in We Stories kids presented at national conference by the Wash U Cognition Lab.