January 2021
Without Sanctuary
no one wants to discuss the war
the war in america
on everyone black or brown
or poor

there’s no refuge from the war
so i live
without sanctuary
two-stepping back in time

with no place to hide from the war
the war in america
on everyone black or brown
or poor

so we’re here
without sanctuary
as white supremacists are exalted
in america
their mediocrity lifted high
like the flags of bigotry they wave
their mediocrity celebrated with dynamite
& hand grenades
all the while armored tanks &
harpoon missiles cruise for black heads

anybody feel what I feel?

the hate
in america
lingering in air like a ‘70s LA smog

as ghosts are whispering…

lynchings in america
lynchings in america
lynchings in america

anybody hear my cry?

lynchings in america
lynchings in america
lynchings in america

ghosts are whispering…
The words above are an excerpt from a poem I penned in 2010 in reflection on the renewed and continuous shift toward blatant racism following the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009. So here we stand, eleven years later, still in war’s center, still without sanctuary.

Though predictable and expected, witnessing terrorists in action on January 6, 2021 was nonetheless hurtful. It was hurtful because even though the overwhelmingly realist part of me was not shocked, the optimist that lives in my heart hoped for a different reality. Hoped my realism was misplaced. Hoped there would be sanctuary.

At least now it is undeniable that protests in support of Black and Brown lives are met with inordinate police and military violence, while terrorist acts of white supremacists are handled gingerly. At least now it is indisputable that threats of white supremacists are greeted with under-policing and trust, and Black lives are continuously met with hyper-violence and death. At least the denial will end, won’t it.?.?.?

Though I stand without sanctuary, I am reminded to “never let anyone steal [my] joy”. Restated in the words of Sojourner Truth, “I will not allow the light of my life to be determined by the darkness around me”. In other words, oppressors win if we allow them to steal our joy or dim our lights. Our joy, our lights, are forms of resistance against the “war in america.” Through our soulful joy we garner energy to keep fighting for positive change. It is that inner joy, that light within me, that keeps me encouraged and energized to move forward despite darkness. That joy resides in my optimistic heart alongside God and hope. And it is that joy that I want to see in the eyes of our children and youth.

We must do all that we can, in every way that we can, to ensure their lives are protected, respected and kept at the center. It is up to us to provide them sanctuary, to provide them light, no matter how much darkness surrounds us.

But above all, despite the “war in america,” let's love like our lives and theirs depend on it. They do.

Cheryl D.S. Walker, Esq.
Interim President and CEO
Deaconess Foundation
The St. Louis Interfaith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA) envisions a world in which partners reach across economic, political, and social borders to build a sustainable future for the planet and its people. Through education and organizing, they convene an inter-faith community to accompany the people of Latin America in their work for human rights and social justice.

Deaconess Foundation provides funding to IFCLA through its Responsive Grant portfolio. The grant supports policy development led by asylum seekers and congregation-based organizing to build power for public policy changes to improve family economic mobility among immigrant and mixed status families in the region. 
Learn more and get involved with IFCLA by visiting their website: www.stl-ifcla.org
An engaged citizenry is critical to a democracy of the people, accountable to the people. The 2020 general election was historical for many reasons; notably, more people voted in that election than in any other election in 120 years. An activated citizenry can bring about change. Looking forward, later this year, voters in the City of St. Louis will decide which of four mayoral candidates will cast vision and lead the way towards a more racially equitable and inclusive region that values child and community well-being. Our hope is that the region’s collective vision places children, especially the most vulnerable, at the center of decision-making.

With the March 2nd primary election quickly approaching, there are public mayoral forums and debates for voters to learn about and engage with the candidates. Now is the time to get to know the candidates better, ask the tough questions, and take note of the responses so that you are well-informed when it is time to cast your ballot.

Upcoming Mayoral Forum

Saturday, January 23
3-5 PM
St. Louis Mayoral Candidate Forum Moderated by The League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis

Past Mayoral Debate

Sunday, January 17
The People’s Mayoral Debate sponsored by Action St. Louis, Forward Through Ferguson, ArchCity Defenders and Faith for Justice

The two candidates who receive the most votes in the March primary election will compete in the general election on April 6th
The work of advancing power on behalf of children and community does not happen in a vacuum. While regional partners are passionately mobilizing to ensure that there is a community-driven approach to upcoming redistricting processes, facilitating forums for neighbors to increase their awareness of mayoral candidate positions and holding city alderman to their commitment on last year’s resolution to Close the Workhouse, democracy was under attack at the nation’s capital as Congress worked to certify the results of the presidential election and go about the work of advancing the people’s mandate for change.

The dichotomy of current events in Washington versus the very real and important work of child advocates and organizers on the ground calls for us all to both embrace practices to acknowledge the weight of the moment and refresh our capacity to push toward progressive change that will nurture, protect, and seek justice for children. The resources below offer tips, tools and practices to support your staff as you navigate the work of power building in these unprecedented times.

  • The Management Center: How to Actually Reprioritize – provides tips for team leaders and individual contributors to guide efforts to refocus when priorities need to shift.

  • Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere-Los Angeles: Communication Guidelines for a Brave Space – provides norms to guide discussion on current events and approach developing consciousness-raising dialogue spaces.

Take the time to feel and process through the weight of the moment. _____________________________________________________________

Funding OpportunitiesVisit our website for an up-to-date list of funding opportunities for 2021. Responsive Grant proposals are due January 29, 2021.
Since the community-led North Central Plan began last year, residents have come together in numerous ways to provide their input and feedback on the building and implementation of new physical developments and social services in the Covenant Blu, Grand Center and Vandeventer neighborhoods. Thirty-one (31) residents attended the community kick-off meeting, fifty-one (51) came to the first community-wide meeting, and twenty-three (23) participated in a hybrid virtual community meeting. In addition, the planning team spoke with seven (7) neighborhood focus groups and gained additional information during five (5) stakeholder interviews. Residents also responded to 152 well-being surveys. In the future, there will be more opportunities to hear from the community as visioning and strategic planning is ongoing.

The next Community-Wide Town Hall to support the North Central Plan will be on
Tuesday, February 2nd from 6 – 8 PM.

Follow North Central Plan on Facebook and NorthCentralSTLPlan.com for the most up-to-date information.
Black St. Louisans Didn't Miss How White Lives Mattered As Mob Stormed Capitol

Chad Davis and Andrea Y. Henderson | St. Louis Public Radio

Sydney Alexander was glued to social media last week, watching a ceremonial fixture of the nation's democracy descend into a day of madness. As a largely white mob of insurrectionists forced its way into the U.S. Capitol, seeking to block lawmakers from certifying the election of President-elect Joe Biden, Alexander, who is Black, could not miss the obvious.

Apparently outnumbered and ill-prepared, the Capitol police offered little resistance as rioters overran them and carried symbols of white supremacy into the halls of Congress.

“It was incredible to see how white privilege works in real life, in real space in real time,” Alexander said. “If those were Black protesters, I feel like all Americans know what would happen.” Read more>>>
USS St. Louis technical scholarship fund provides grants to support crew, family members

The St. Louis American

The USS ST LOUIS (LCS-19) Commissioning Committee has established a $500,000 scholarship fund that will award annual grants to qualifying members of the crew and their dependents who are pursuing undergraduate degrees or advanced technical training
The scholarship fund, one of the largest of its kind to be presented to the crew of a naval ship by representatives of the sponsoring city, will support sailors and their families throughout the life of the ship.

The scholarship fund will be administered by The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, a nonprofit organization that helps students by awarding interest-free loans and scholarship grants; advising them to make informed financial decisions about postsecondary goals and options; and advocating for policies that improve college accessibility and affordability for students with significant financial need. Read more >>>
January 19: Legal Services of Eastern Missouri hosts Business Legal Clinic, 5-7 PM. Click here to register for a free appointment.

January 25: St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America presents The Garcia Family Documentary live premiere, 6:30 PM. Registration is required. To register, click here.

January 28: ACLU of Missouri hosts Missouri Legislative Update 2021. 6 PM. For more information and to register, click here.

January 29: The Regional Health Commission and partners' Coping With Covid: Virtual Town Hall, 10:30 AM - 12 PM. Click here to register for the Zoom link, or stream at STLRHC's YouTube channel.

January 30: Organization for Black Struggle & the Youth Council for Positive Development’s 41st Anniversary Celebration, 4-5 PM. For more information and to register, click here.

March 10: Missouri Child Advocacy Day 2021. Save the date, then help plan this year’s event by clicking here.
Do you have an event you'd like to see in this Newsletter? Submit it here!
Deaconess Foundation invests, engages and advocates with grant partners, volunteer leaders, young adult servant leaders, a cadre of nursing scholars, 220 churches and countless child advocates and community organizers throughout an eight-county region in St. Louis and Southern Illinois to advance our child well-being policy agenda. We look forward to continuing this work for the health and hope of all St. Louis’ children.
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