In St. Louis is an annual project designed to explore — through the experiences, scholarship, work, and voices of St. Louisans — what it means to be in St. Louis today.

In St. Louis is a project of the Academy for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, in partnership with the Office of Public Affairs. Toward the academy’s charge of “being the primary vehicle for shifting climate and culture on all the university’s campuses with a focus on faculty and staff,” this project recognizes the interconnectedness of the climate and culture at Washington University and that of the larger St. Louis region.

A shift in culture relies on changes in policy, systems and process. It requires truth telling, healing and becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. It takes individual participation, but only happens when civic, legislative and legal structures are different. The work it takes to achieve those things is not fast, is not easy, and doesn’t lend itself to sound bites. This project aims to provide a space to witness, explore and amplify that work here in St. Louis.

In its inaugural year, In St. Louis will delve into the movement and momentum that sprung from the killing of Michael Brown Jr. by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson in August 2014, and the uprising that followed. The first installment of In St. Louis will ask: Five years after the uprising in Ferguson, what does it mean to be in St. Louis?

In the last 5 years, St. Louis has seen renewed activism and a public dialogue about racial inequity.

To better understand what it means to be in St. Louis in this moment, we spoke with 19 St. Louisans about the energy, accountability and momentum catalyzed by the Ferguson uprising and the region’s response to it; the pain and the trauma the region is still processing and the significant work that remains to address it; and whether St. Louis can be a model of progress for the nation.

Through multi-faceted, multimedia storytelling that incorporates voices and perspectives from researchers and scholars, practitioners, activists, policymakers and elected officials, and local and national commentators on race and equity, this project will broaden public awareness of the systemic groundwork for racial equity that has been laid in the St. Louis region in the last 5 years, while providing perspective on what’s needed to better understand the path forward.