Mary Andom

Mary Andom is a 2007 graduate of Western Washington University located in the Pacific Northwest. She majored in print journalism with a minor in political science. Andom is originally from the north east African nation of Eritrea and credits her parent�s harrowing journey escaping the war-torn country and growing up in her culturally diverse neighborhood in Seattle for her inspiration to become a journalist. In high school and early college, Andom penned columns for The Seattle Times youth section NEXT. She was also involved in her school newspaper, The Western Front, as a reporter and later as a columnist. Last summer, Andom interned at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Andom hopes to become a newspaper reporter either covering education or immigration/refugee issues.


Personal Narrative – Mary Andom

“Ay yo, lil’ mama.”

A candy-apple green Oldsmobile with shiny chrome wheels pulled up beside me.

“Shit,” I whispered under my breath. I kept walking, flashing an uneasy smile.

“How old you be,” he said in his syrupy Southern accent.

I laughed. “I’m 15.” I paused. “A minor.”

“Well, you don’t look 15,” he said. I shrugged my shoulders and continued to walk. The car crept on by. And I was thankful.

Here I was, a nosy reporter with my Poynter badge and my Canon camera, parading around the ‘hood taking photos. I was in Palmetto Park, a black neighborhood in St. Petersburg, Fla. It was sizzling hot, one of those days you just wish you were inside.

I wanted to explore my beat and tell their stories.

I must have looked like an outsider, a person of authority. The person I feared I would become, the one they did not trust. Read more

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Pride. Through our eyes

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Pride through their eyes: Five stories

St. Pete Pride parade has grown from a small event into a celebration noticed by the entire city.

One of the largest gatherings for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Florida, the event has more than doubled in attendance since its beginning in 2003.

Back then, the small parade brought a crowd of 13,000 onlookers and participants. This year, St. Petersburg Police estimated that 40,000 people were on hand to watch or be part of the procession down the Grand Central business district.

Drag queens leaned from floats tossing free condoms and Mardi Gras beads like candy. Lesbian couples pushed their children in strollers. Volunteers passed out orange juice boxes to marchers in the parade. A mobile van offered free HIV tests.

Pride is a mostly celebratory event, except for the presence of a handful of protestors. Police watched from the sidelines. They fenced off detractors with orange construction cones, to prevent a confrontation. Read more

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Keeping the beat

Kids nervously tap drumsticks on the Seventh-day Adventist Church steps in St. Petersburg, Fla., rehearsing the beats in their heads. The cymbal players swivel and rotate their wrists with their imaginary instruments.

Inside the whitewashed church, is chaos.

Musicians scramble to get dressed for their big performance at the Bringe Music Center. The little drummers stuff their khaki shirts inside their black slacks, sometimes missing a corner. The older kids help the younger kids tie royal-blue scarves around their necks.

A Jamaican woman wears a sash with at least 50 badges for sewing, Bible reciting and nature walking.

Think Boy Scouts meet the military.

The All Nations Seventh-day Adventist Church drum corps is an outgrowth of its youth program, aimed at teaching young people discipline, respect and precision through drums and spirituality.


Watch a video and interviews with drum corps members.


Darrell Edwards does not possess a commanding presence, but he is the key to calming the chaos inside the church. Read more

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Historic spot takes center stage — all over again

On a busy strip of 22nd Street South in St. Petersburg’s Midtown neighborhood, the smell of fried catfish from Lorene’s Fish House spills into the street. A souped-up Cadillac zooms past, bumping rap music. At a nearby stretch of public housing, residents take refuge from the heat, sitting on their cool porches.

Next door to Lorene’s, young people dance to hip-hop artists like UNK next door in a tin-roofed Quonset hut that once housed jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Sarah Vaughan.
 

The Royal Theatre has come full circle, from its heyday as a black movie house in the days before desegregation, to a new haven for young people who gather to make the music of their generation.

The rebirth is barely evident from the outside. The Quonset hut got a facelift in 2004, but otherwise seems little changed since it opened in 1948.

But its journey through history is told through the memories of those who found a sense of themselves and their community at the Royal. Read more

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Welcome to East of 34th!

The beat we’ve fashioned into “East of 34th Street” spans the area north of Boyd Hill Nature Park all the way up to 9th Avenue North. It’s bordered by Maggiore on the east and south and by the West of 34th Street beat to the west. It includes neighborhoods like Jordan Park and the Grand Central district.

While you’re on the beat, stop by M & N Island Kitchen for some Caribbean food, attend a wedding at Helen Davis’ chapel and turn your radio dial to WRXB to listen to the sounds of the community. Browse the dozens of antique shops in the area. Window shop along the revamped storefronts. Take a quiet moment at King of Peace Church. While you’re at it, read some earlier stories about the beat here and here, but don’t forget to check back on Wednesday, June 13, for a new perspective and new stories from east of 34th Street. Read more

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