Sylvester Brown Jr.

Sylvester Brown Jr. has joined The St. Louis American as its inaugural Deaconess Fellow. The fellowship is funded by the Deaconess Foundation as part of its support for Black-led COVID-19 relief efforts. It’s a one-year fellowship to support narrative journalism about the pandemic across all coverage areas. He starts July 15.

“We must tell our own stories to survive this crisis,” said Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, president and CEO of the Deaconess Foundation. “If we forget the faces and names of those we’ve lost, we won’t sustain the focus for just recovery.”

Brown is the author of the book When We Listen: Recognizing the Potential of Urban Youth, the former publisher of Take Five Magazine, former columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and among the most respected writers and journalists in the St. Louis region.

“I am honored to chosen as the Deaconess Fellow with The St. Louis American newspaper,” Brown said. “My goal is to use my 30-plus years of journalism and storytelling experience to share the personal stories of African Americans in our region grappling with this unprecedented, devastating pandemic.”

“A fellowship, as a relatively brief commitment, is often awarded to very young professional as a kind of exploratory gap year,” said Donald M. Suggs, publisher and executive editor of The St. Louis American. “But when Rev. Wilson reminded us of the importance of narrative, we reflected that a seasoned storyteller might be better equipped. Sylvester came to mind right away.”

Not only will Brown report on the pandemic across all coverage areas, he will tell stories in a range of media. Look for his work on and The St. Louis American’s social media as well as in the print edition of the newspaper.

Those who wish to suggest a story to Brown or add him to a distribution list, email or add him at

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