‘Stories of the Streets’ podcast gives voice to Waco community

De'Viar Woodson and Jasmine Bledsoe are the hosts of the podcast Stories of the Streets. Photo courtesy of De'Viar Woodson

By Avery Ballmann | Staff Writer

During the summer of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum and several non profit and social justice groups in Waco were formed.

Waco locals De’Viar Woodson and Jasmine Bledsoe co-host the “Stories of the Streets” podcast with the help of Change Waco, a non profit focused on racial equity and local criminal justice, The New Black Collective, a local no profit that teaches financial literacy and Rogue Media Network, a local podcast production company

“It’s a space to continue these types of conversations,” Woodson said. “So that’s why I did this, because it wasn’t necessarily something dangerous or super active to do, but it still kept the conversation going.”

On May 31, 2020, Woodson and BLACCENT, a Waco non profit, assembled a BLM protest in under 24 hours that drew over 400 participants, nearly all masked due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That month, Bledsoe also helped found Change Waco.

With their expertise, Bledsoe and Woodson began the “Stories of the Streets” podcast to amplify voices of Waco’s community members in July 2020.

“We allow people who have stories of life, because that’s really what it’s about, fighting injustice,” Bledsoe said. “We give them a safe space to come speak to us.”

“Stories of the Streets” is in its fourth season. Each episode is based on the guest speaker, as the seasons do not have an overarching theme.

“I try to find somebody who’s active in the community, whether they have a job that’s community based, they’re a part of an organization or politically or something,” Woodson said. “I always try to find somebody that has some piece of knowledge to
share with everybody.”

The show has featured Waco Police Department’s Chief of Police Sheryl Victoria, Cha Community owner Jaja Chen, Waco councilwoman Kelly Palmer and others. Their new season will feature the family of Justin Bibles, who was murdered in front of a Red Lobster resturant in Waco in 2018, and a highlight on the Waco
ISD school board.

“My biggest goal for the podcast was to be able to shed light on what’s going on in the world,” Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe said she thinks people tune out the news because it is negative, but the tragedies that are occurring are the truth, which is why the podcast was originally created. Bledsoe said she was taught that if she brought issues to light, it would be seen as complaining or dramatizing the issue.

“I hope that people will learn to be courageous because a lot of the people that we want to interview sometimes — they’re afraid,” Bledsoe said. “I hope people learn to stand up and speak for themselves because I know that sometimes it can be hard, especially being a person of color.”

This season, Woodson said they are orienting the podcast to the original message it was created for. The podcast can be streamed on Apple Podcast.