Taking action in the Show Me State
Located along the Illinois/Missouri border and home to numerous universities, including top research institutions Washington University and Saint Louis University, St. Louis Missouri is an educational hub and ideal setting for this first and centrally located Commission of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC). Formally launched in September 2019, the St. Louis Commission (VOC-STL) is committed to bringing this important human rights initiative to the local community.
The city of St. Louis has a long history of welcoming immigrants and in particular those coming from southeast Asia as political refugees. Fleeing the threat of communist oppression, many came to St. Louis from Laos and Thailand in the 1970s; and from Vietnam in the 1980s and 1990s. In an online interview, Hang Nguyen Trinh, local owner of St. Louis’s best known Vietnamese restaurant, speaks about her experience fleeing her native country as she watched flames engulf her home.
“When the communists came from north to south and bombarded the city, we took off to the pier, amid a life-and-death situation. I saw bombs falling, I saw dead people in the streets. I was 11 years at the time, so old enough to remember.” — Hang Nguyen Trinh
Like Trinh, other city residents who have suffered under communist regimes deserve and also need to have their stories told. VOC research indicates that many young Americans do not know the basic facts about the history of communism; and this trend can be seen in St. Louis. Recently, there has been local support of communist ideals and a celebration of communist symbols as a reflection of equality and justice. Social media and online discussions indicate a growing support of communism as an ideal political structure.
Given this landscape, VOC-STL is already active in the community and hosted its first event series on March 30th, 2019. This included an educator workshop and film screening of the highest grossing film in Lithuanian history, Ashes in the Snow, based on an award winning novel about a young artist exiled to Siberia under Stalin’s rule. Both events were attended by nearly 200 people at the Moolah Theater. These events were held in conjunction with an evening celebration of Lithuanian Independence Day, hosted by the Lithuanian American Community (LAC) of Greater St. Louis.
In addition to its educational infrastructure and strong international communities, St. Louis is a growing location for start up and other innovative businesses and organizations. Communism does not allow for the economic prosperity and political freedom required to support urban development. VOC-STL invites participation from the greater St. Louis community in support of this important effort to tell the truth about communism, to remember its victims and to commemorate its survivors.
Victims of Communism – St. Louis Commission volunteer leaders are committed to alerting, educating, and reminding local St. Louisans of the growing dangers of communism. VOC-STL leadership includes:
Kim McGrath, Commission Director
Dan Powell, Strategic Development Chair
Curtis Farber, Community Engagement Chair
Kerri Flynn, Education Outreach Coordinator
Lena Fish, Voices for Freedom Coordinator
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, Cuba Specialist
On March 25-27, 2020, VOC-STL exhibited at the Great Homeschool Convention in St. Charles, MO. Hosted each year in multiple locations across the country, the convention draws thousands of families together for three days of learning with top speakers, one-on-one sessions, workshops, and sharing resources.VOC-STL leaders and volunteers staffed the event and promoted the use of VOC’s middle and high school curriculum, which was enthusiastically received as a new critical teaching resource by homeschool families in St. Louis.
On October 1, 2020, VOC-STL hosted a rally for the Global Day of Action in front of VOC-STL volunteer Cherri Elder’s store which was vandalized in 2018 by local communists. VOC-STL passed out educational resources and local witnesses of communism spoke about their experiences.
VOC-STL marked Victims of Communism Memorial Day on November 7, 2020 by hosting a local event that included the personal testimonies of a panel of witnesses, a film screening of First They Killed My Father, and expert training through an advocacy workshop designed to help St. Louisans educate others about the perils of communism. Find out more about the event here.
VOC-STL marked National Loyalty Day on May 1, 2021 in celebrating by hosting a local event on historic Cherokee Street in St. Louis. The event included personal testimonies of local witnesses of communism. Every year, May 1 is a day to reaffirm loyalty to the United States and to recognize the American heritage of freedom. Find out more about the event here.
Surveys of St. Louis, MO Candidates
VOC-STL conducted a survey with all candidates for local, state, and federal office in the St. Louis, MO area in July 2020. The goal of the survey is to address candidate views on communism, and how they would be willing to recognize individual victims of communist regimes. You can access a copy of the survey results here.
VOC-STL conducted another survey with all candidates for local office in the St. Louis, MO area in February 2021. The goal of the survey is also to address candidate views on communism, and how they would be willing to recognize individual victims of communist regimes. You can access a copy of the survey results here.
“Communism in St. Louis” Photo Exhibit
VOC-STL established a “Communism in St. Louis” photo exhibit to demonstrate examples of active Communist and Marxist based organizations in St. Louis, their influence, and VOC-STL’s response. You can view the photo exhibit here.
How do I donate directly to the St. Louis Victims of Communism Commission?
Support local outreach in St. Louis here. Your support of VOC-STL directly impacts the educational efforts of the St. Louis Victims of Communism Commission.
How can I get involved?
To express interest in serving as a VOC-STL volunteer, please complete the form below.
Contact the St. Louis Victims of Communism Commission at email@example.com.