On October 27, 2017, Memphis said its final goodbyes to Bernal Smith the president and publisher of the New Tri-State Defender. Smith was a rare jewel to Memphis who brought black elegance and poise to media. Gone too soon, he will be missed dearly. It is crucial that our city understand the importance of Black Media outlets and strive to support them at all costs, including not supporting traditional media. Controlling the narrative allows us to control how we are depicted, as well as our overall culture and humanity. We must stay informed with the issues, stay continuously aware of what steps are needed to solve problems, as well as protect ourselves and our community.
It is our hope that his successor will have no less enthusiasm, will continue to take risks by telling our stories honestly, and possess a desire to preserve and maintain the black culture in the manner that Smith did.
Our strength in our cultural revolution and our vision lies in our stories. It is essential that we maintain the proper platform to transform the way our stories are told. In order to ensure the evolution, we must look at our progress. It can be measured by the print in old newspapers prior to the internet. We all will be remembered by the legacies we leave and our messages must be delivered. Who better to tell our stories than us. Bernal Smith will be missed, but the body of work he gave the Tri-State audiences will always be with us. He is a shining example of how we can use our voices to be heard and to disturb the consciences of those who do not tell our stories correctly or at all.
The torch is lit and we can not afford to let the flame die out. We are at a pivotal point in our country. Our social justice movement must move beyond the Memphis and the Tri-State area. We must carry the torch proudly and unapologetically. So, who will carry the torch? The New South will! BLM Memphis challenges all persons of color who are in any media outlets to carry the torch. Tell your stories, Tell our stories, not only to remember our history but to continue to break-down-barriers as journalists who accurately define the narrative, push envelopes, dismantle white supremacy and create our own media platforms. In this way, our stories will not be manipulated or ignored but magnified and heard by the world. Let us all carry the torch, and keep the Smith family in our hearts and prayers. We are Black Lives Matter Memphis.