This precious Black male is a 3rd grader by the name of Edmund. He’s an outstanding student, he already has a 3.83 GPA and he has above average scores as well as above average when it comes to his school’s test scores; language arts, math, and science. Just as importantly, he has a huge, giving heart. His mom says:
“We attribute his success to doing our best as parents and the great education he is getting at a local charter school, Gateway Science Academy.”
But apparently the human and soul this child possess doesn’t matter nor do his achievements. At least, not to the state of Missouri. He misses his friends as he has attended the school since kindergarten. Staff at Gateway Science Academy want to have this law changed; some of the teachers and staff have signed his petition to allow him to attend the school.
Critic/activist/former stand-up comedian turned humorist; Mr. Dick Gregory blessed Memphis with a rare appearance at the Paradiso Theater for the Memphis Black Expo’s Conscious Cinema after a viewing of The Black Power Mixtape documentary. Before the viewing, Gregory engaged various Black Lives Matter organizer and activists with an intimate discussion on the of the state of Black America. The youth were as intrigued as the adults by his charisma and dialogue. His humor and honesty hypnotized the all.
In the green room, Gregory shared his thoughts on the decision to remove Andrew Jackson and replace him with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. He insisted that no blacks must have been in the room when they made the decision to dress her up in a plantation-era wardrobe. He said the people who made the decision wanted to remind blacks of their place and always remember where they came from because they have the power to put us back “in slavery” if we don’t pay attention.
Gregory on Panel
After a vegan meal, Gregory graced the podium with a panel discussion which turned into another open dialogue dominated by Gregory. His unforgettable history lessons on various topics and his ability to employ humor with brutal honesty, left everyone thinking this man has “No Filter.” His perspective was built on concern and integrity for his people. One could not help but listen attentively to the 80-year-old humourous tell stories. He did not miss a beat and did not have a problem telling others to hold up and let him speak. Moderator Brian Clay tried to regain control of the discussion, but Gregory was there for the people, and the people were there to hear him. Clay opened the floor and as anticipated all questions were directed to Gregory. The other five other panelists listened attentively and occasionally were instructed by Gregory to read a newspaper article aloud. Their attempts to interject an opinion were redirected to Gregory. Class was in session.
Black folks tend to be misguided. They believe what they are told by mass media. Gregory insisted that we pay better attention to and support black media because only we can tell our stories more accurately. For example, he discussed the hypocrisy behind the South Carolina church shooting by Dylan Roof. The news report was not aired until 2 hours afterward. By that time the FBI had been called in before local law enforcement. He suggested that it was all lies and asked the question, “How many black churches do you think are going to let someone come inside and sit an hour and get close to a pastor?” Gregory’s logic caused the room to erupted in laughter because he insisted deacons don’t allow anyone to get that close to the pastor, not even during evening meetings.” His logic was followed by seriousness and his desire for all to understand that and according to the news, Roof was at the church an hour before the shooting. It didn’t make sense according to black church standards or the 2 hours delay in media reports. He made statements and pulled out articles from British newspapers which confirmed that the Department of Justice had allotted $29 million dollars to the victim’s families two days after the shooting. “Why would the federal government appropriate that kind of money in 2 days after the shooting?” His response, was “They know!”
All black folks can benefit from the insight of this man. He is a vegan. He explained the reason he had never been caught up in a scandal like Bill Cosby or Tiger Woods is because he considers every appearance a job. He never left and engagement with a woman that he didn’t bring to an event. “When you live right, they can try, but they can’t put something on you or hold anything over you.”
Listening to Gregory laughter echoed throughout the entire theater. He spoke to the audience about the death of Rev. Samuel Kyle coincidentally occurring on Coretta Scott King’s birthday. Complete silence echoed by ‘shut yo mouth awes, and whispered hushes when he suggested that he had set King up to be killed right here in Memphis. The suggestion hit close to home, and it seemed as if half of the room did not want to believe the comment, the other half could not believe he had said it.
A gentleman asked him, “Who should blacks support, Hillary or Bernie?” He responded sarcastically,” Hillary might be in jail, and Bernie might be too. ” The room’s energy became somber when the critic pulled out a 1992 article from The New York Times, which stated 1.25 million men missing. Gregory said they were stealing their organs and we are targets who need to understand that these persons are not dead they are missing.
Gregory concluded his remarks by saying, “We live in hoods, not communities because a community controls everything inside of it.” Total silence followed a standing ovation for the visionary. A community is when you knowing what you are dealing with and you handle the aspects accordingly. He informed us about the importance of our youth knowing, “You can get anything you want when you realize who you are and that you have the power to leave here (today) knowin’ what you dealing with.”
We can get anything we want once Black Folks realize who we are and that we have the power to take his message knowing we can achieve our goal. #AllBlackLivesMatter #BLMM
One week after the funeral of Myneishia Johnson, the Foot Homes, the 901 BLOC Squad and other community members gathered to unite in solidarity on National Gun Violence Awareness Day against. The event began with the distribution of orange t-shirts with an emoji representing “NO GUNS”. Children played basketball and jump roped. Delvin Lane gave a presentation and led the community in prayer which began the march from Foote Homes. Myneishia’s mother, baby, and other family members who have lost their loved ones through gun violence marched and sang Negro spirituals, pausing at each point where life was taken. A tribute was held. Moments of silence concluded the march which ended at the Booker T. Washington High School. Most of the youth who lost their lives to senseless gun violence attended BTW.
Social Justice Activist Karen Spencer
Kylan Myneishia’s son
Memphis is presently at a state of CODE ORANGE. It was as if a week was taken off to reload. Positivity is necessary to bring about peace. “CODE ORANGE” is a vague term for an oral directive that varies in meaning from one health care facility to another. Lockdown or controlled facility access is often used as part of the response when a “Code Orange” is called. With the recent shootings in downtown, one might wonder was the decision to tear this community down a poor one or the right decision.
HUD awarded Memphis over 30 million dollars to tear down the Foot Homes. Yet, the city spent over 50 million dollars to redevelop the Beale Street Landing. The decision to demolish the community could only lead you to believe that this was the last solution to rid downtown of crime or if it was, a proactive decision to protect the downtown investment which seeks to eliminate all persons who cannot afford to reside there.
The Foot Homes community has generations of history and its heritage cannot be erased. Members of this community are taking a stand against violence and demanding peace, but the decision has already been made. Unfortunately, all of the residents will now be scattered throughout Memphis, and hopefully, their message will spread as well.