Loud & Clear
May 2022
Reckoning with Enslavement’s Legacy: Moral Responses
Thurs., May 12, 7 p.m.
In-person program at The Heights
8001 Dale Ave. 
St. Louis, MO 63117
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination and a mask will be required for entry.
Program will also be available on Zoom.
Speaker: Rev. Jeffrey Harrison, SJ, project coordinator for the Slavery, History, Memory and Reconciliation project

The Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, like many religious orders, held people in slavery from the colonial era until the abolition of slavery in 1865. The enslaved helped establish and sustain Jesuit educational institutions across the United States, including Saint Louis University and the former St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant. 

In 2016 the Jesuit Central and Southern Province and St. Louis University began the Slavery, History, Memory and Reconciliation research project, with the goal of restoring the humanity of the enslaved through their legacies. Using sacramental records and genealogy, the researchers have identified about 70 people the Jesuits enslaved in the St. Louis region between 1823 and 1865, and they have been working to locate and connect with those descendants. 

Thousands of other descendants live in the United States today. The value of what has been taken from them is incalculable, and slavery led to racial inequities throughout St. Louis and the country. Is it enough to simply acknowledge the facts and wait for reconciliation to occur? Our speaker will explore that question as he focuses on slavery’s aftermath in St. Louis and responses to honor those who were enslaved. 
Still Behind Bars: Criminal Legal Reform
Ex-offenders face a multitude of barriers to employment, education, housing, food support, and voting rights. At the April program, Shawntelle L. Fisher, founder and leader of The SoulFisher Ministries, explained why support services are urgently needed for the 95% of those who go to prison and then return home. She urged attendees to support the Clean Slate Initiative, a national bipartisan effort to enact policies that automatically clear eligible criminal records. Read the summary and link to the recorded program here.
Criminal Legal Reform Task Force Needs You!
Have you ever made a mistake that you would be ashamed to have everyone know about for the rest of your life? Chances are good that all of us have at some time broken a law or violated a municipal ordinance – but we didn’t get caught. That mistake did not define us or limit our ability to provide for our families. The same cannot be said about people who have criminal records. The record of their mistakes or poor choices can be a lifelong barrier to jobs, housing and more, no matter how long they have remained crime-free.

A few months ago the Criminal Legal Reform Task Force of the Racial Justice Committee began researching a Clean Slate Initiative for Missouri, a measure to enable people to get a new start following incarceration. Simply stated, Clean Slate would automate expungement of those records that are already eligible for expungement, but which are not pursued under an expensive and complicated petition system. The task force created an information sheet about Clean Slate policy, but our work is not finished.

Interest is building on this bipartisan issue, and we are optimistic about eventual passage of a Clean Slate Act for Missouri. In coming months we will step up our education and advocacy efforts in partnership with Empower Missouri, spreading the word among faith communities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations, as well as elected leaders. We need additional ideas as we plan our goals and strategies for the coming year, and we encourage you to join the task force. If you are interested, please contact Mary Schuman and Anne Litwin at diemcarp@aol.com.

To learn more, attend the virtual Empower Missouri Town Hall on May 11 at 6 p.m. Registration is required. Read more and register here.
Volunteers Needed to Assemble Voter Registration Packets
Women’s Voices is launching our voter registration drive. We need volunteers to help assemble packets for this initial step of this year’s voter registration project. Join us to connect with other Women’s Voices members and engage voters:
Wednesday, May 11, anytime from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Larson Park Pavilion
2 Denver Pl.
Webster Groves, MO 63119
Once packets are assembled, volunteers will be needed to address packets and send them to likely unregistered voters whose names and address will be provided. Packets will include voter registration forms that recipients can mail to the St. Louis County Board of Elections. Stay tuned for more opportunities to participate in this important voter registration effort!
Questions? Email Michele Steinberg at voting@womensvoicesraised.org.
May Highlights Advocacy for All
Did you know that May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI Heritage Month? This month celebrates the contributions that generations of AANHPIs have made and continue to make to American progress, society, and culture. The month also aims to advance justice for AANHPI communities, which face economic, health, and education inequities rooted in our nation’s history of racism. Learn more at Federal Asian Pacific American Council and read President Joe Biden’s proclamation at: A Proclamation on Asian American and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander Heritage Month, 2021 | The White House.

May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. One in five U.S adults lives with mental illness, and adolescent suicides are on the rise. What can we do to address this significant challenge for social justice? Talk with those who may be experiencing symptoms such as panic attacks, eating disorders, and depression. To help people get the help they need, share these resources:

Add Your Voice
  • As we plan our 2022-2023 programs, we value your ideas on possible programs and speakers. If you are interested in being part of this planning process, contact Ellen Wentz at programs@womensvoicesraised.org.
  • Please check our website for summer advocacy opportunities in Lock It for Love events, voter protection, and racial justice.
  • Join our Advocacy Committee as we research critical issues and advocate for social justice. All are welcome. The committee meets the fourth Monday of each month at 1 p.m. Contact Advocacy Chair Karen Francis at advocacy@womensvoicesraised.org for details about how to join us.
Educators and Women’s Voices Step Up to Prevent Gun Deaths
The Centers for Disease Control has reported that gun-related injuries are now the leading cause of death of children and adolescents 1 to 19 years of age.

In the face of this report, Women’s Voices is pleased to announce our support for the new Educators for Gun Safety initiative launched April 28 by St. Louis Public Schools and some city charter schools.

Our Lock It for Love program will supply gun locks to be distributed at Vashon High School on May 7 and at Aspire Academy at a later date. School leaders will teach individuals how to use a gun lock and how to safely store firearms: locked, unloaded and out of the sight of children.

At the press conference announcing the gun safety initiative, St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams emphasized the need to “get the message out that there is a way to prevent a kid from picking up that gun and harming himself.”

The Lock It for Love program has also been working with the St. Louis Fire Department, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the St. Louis City Library branches, and some St. Louis County Library branches to offer free gun locks to the public.

We would also like to recognize and salute our dedicated partners who distribute free gun locks to their clients to provide safe storage of firearms: Better Family Life, Bilingual International Assistant Services-Project Safe Space, East Side Health District, Fathers and Family Support, Mission: St. Louis, St. Louis Crisis Nursery, St. Pius Food Pantry, Urban League-Serving Our Streets, and YWCA Project Head Start.

We thank all who are working to end gun violence in our community.
Women's Voices Members respond to injustice!
Karen Kalish, in her letter to the Post Dispatch, writes that Missouri teacher salaries should be doubled or tripled to recruit and retain them.
Joanne Kelly, in her letter to the Post Dispatch, writes that she is rooting for St. Louis Mayor Jones, who isn't afraid to use her power and influence.
Jeanette Mott Oxford, in her letter to the Post Dispatch, writes that City Proposition R is about imposing ethical government.

Stephanie Sigala, in her letter to the Post Dispatch, urges everyone to work the election polls at least once in their life.
Have something to submit for Loud & Clear?

Loud & Clear is the official monthly e-newsletter of Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice and is usually distributed on the first Monday or Tuesday of the month. The general deadline for article submission is the Wednesday prior to publication. Click here to contact editor Laura Rose.
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