Community Servants Look to Expand Impact

By Nikki L. Smith

Why do we, African Americans, do the wacky self-destructive things that we do?  Why do we harm one another?  Are we doing all that we can do to empower ourselves?   Howard Denson, publisher of the St. Louis Black Pages, constantly asks these questions.

He and his wife, Vickie Denson, have grappled with the questions and their answers for years as the publishers of the St. Louis Black Pages Business Directory and ‘flip-side’ magazine which will soon be re-branded as The Transformational Agenda Magazine.  What is more, Howard has spent at least 50,000 unpaid hours over the past 40 years struggling to determine what constrains us as a people and how we can heal our community without the aid or assistance of others.

Inspired by his short story entitled, “Listen to the Ancestors,” he realized that his decades of research now reflected a holistic and viable blueprint that is the catalyst for the healing of the African American community.  For the past four years, he taught these truths to over 300 people via The Transformational Agenda Retreat, a life-altering and transformative experience.

Confident that The Transformational Agenda will be the catalyst for community healing, Howard and Vickie now seek to expand its impact.  This colossal task will take place through a series of key initiatives.  They are calling for the African American community to observe Abstinence Week, February 15th until February 22nd.  Yes, they want the community to abstain from sex.  They describe it “as a tribute to the ancestors who chose life in the days when hope unborn had died and when death would have been a sweet release.”  They also describe it as an opportunity for us to rethink everything and to focus on what we must be and do to recreate our culture.

Howard and Vickie have also planned a three day Empowerment Conference, which will be held at Cardinal Ritter College Preparatory High School on March 1-3.  This conference will feature The Gathering for Strategic Determination on March 1st, over 20 powerful workshops and the opportunity to discuss voluntary service options with 20 social service agencies on May 2nd, and The Love Black Festival, a celebration of Black love, creativity and ingenuity, on May 3rd.

While this is a huge undertaking, the employees and volunteers of St. Louis Black Pages and The Transformational Agenda intend to challenge the minds, hearts, and intentions of the African American community and to become the catalyst of community healing.  “We do this,” Howard says, “because African Americans can heal our community, and healing is exactly what we need.”

To learn more about the key initiatives, visit or call the St. Louis Black Pages at 314-531-7300.  Additionally, The St. Louis American will provide weekly updates through the end of The Empowerment Conference.

Nikki Smith is a Cum Laude graduate from the University of North Texas and a candidate for the degree of Masters of Arts in Advertising and Marketing Communication from Webster University in Saint Louis Missouri.  She is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.