Most companies have a mission statement these days, a statement of principles that set forth the image they want to uphold. Perhaps Memphis needs a mission statement. This is one I would like to see.
#1. Although Memphis has been blessed with strategic location, decent climate, beautiful setting, and an old and venerable history, and, although Memphis has a diverse population of many talents and gifts, and, although Memphis has produced many great men and women in many fields, as a city, Memphis has consistently failed to reach her potential.
#2. This failure has in large part been the result of a failure in leadership, which, in turn has led to factionalism, not only between the races, but also between classes, and between neighborhoods.
#3. These factions and divisions have wasted our energy and retarded the growth of our city and its various communities, and have created bitterness and discord.
#4. Although our city has many communities of faith they have been largely ineffective in addressing these problems.
#5. Our city has severe image problems, both from its own citizens, and from those who live outside.
#6. Therefore, we are committed to the improvement of Memphis and its surrounding region.
#7. We pledge to remove race as a consideration for our decisions, or our treatment of others in our personal and public lives.
#8. We resolve to use our influence to convince others to make the same pledge.
#9. We are determined to talk positively of Memphis and to encourage others to do so, having no illusions as to the many problems that need solving.
#10. We promise to vote for the best and most capable leadership, without regard to race.
#11. We believe that if the majority of Memphians and suburban residents agree to the above-named principles, there is no problem that our city and region cannot conquer.
If you agree with these principles, forward them to your friends, relatives and neighbors.
The Memphis City School Board comes up with rather dumb ideas on a regular basis, so this new one shouldn’t really surprise anyone. But board member Kenneth Whalum outdid himself this time when he suggested that we build and open a high school to prepare young people for law enforcement. Apparently, it is apparent to Whalum that the only growth industry in Memphis’ future is crime, and therefore, to deal with the shortage of police and fire personnel (brought on in part by low pay and the city’s stupid residency rules), he proposes this law enforcement academy. Actually, the idea of trying to convince Black youth to join the ranks of law enforcement is nothing new, having been first proposed by Richard Nixon during his first term as president. That effort was a notable failure, as has been every effort since, for the simple fact that many Black youth have grown up in an environment where they see the world (rightly or wrongly) as a war between the police and Black people, and they have no interest in abandoning one side for the other. Perception becomes reality, and this attitude on the part of young Black Americans didn’t develop out of thin air, having received all too much credence from the behavior of SOME police officers. But my objection is more that, once again, we are accepting at face value the theory that Black youth cannot be expected to do academic work and prepare for a college career. Instead, we are told, we must lead them into some vocation, whether it be police work, or fire, or welding, or some other blue collar trade. None of these occupations is necessarily bad. All are needed and they pay well. The point is, we need to be giving Memphis’ inner city youth a general education to prepare them for whatever task they want to pursue in life, not a narrow education aimed at some specific field. Nothing is going to fix the Memphis City Schools short of adequate funding, encouraging integration, firing incompetent teachers, maintaining a safe school environment, and demanding accountability from both students and teachers. This has not been done in that district for years (if ever), and I see no signs that it’s about to start now. As for Memphis parents, let’s hope they send a clear message to the school board that they want no such experiments with their children as the guinea pigs.
While revival and reconciliation has taken place in Jena and LaSalle Parish, authorities in neighboring Catahoula Parish have been investigating a noose-hanging incident near Jonesville, in which the letters “K.K.K.” were also left under the tree in toilet paper. Law enforcement officials there suggested that the incident was a prank since the community in which the nooses and message were found is predominantly white. Two things come to mind. First, Satan does not like revival, because revival is people turning to Jesus Christ and being saved. When there is true revival in an area, watch out for the devil’s counterattack. But the other, more frightening thought, is that when nooses were hung at Jena High School in August of 2006, authorities there dismissed it as a prank. The tragic effects of that miscalcualtion are now known to everyone in the world, and the reputation of the town of Jena suffered, to some extent unfairly, as a result. Young people in LaSalle Parish, Catahoula Parish, or anywhere else, must be made to understand that hanging nooses in the yards of others, or on public property, is never just a prank, anymore than would be calling a high school and warning that a bomb is there. Catahoula authorities (and parents) need to take this threat seriously, before the young people who hung the nooses escalate to a violent act and Jonesville gets added to Jasper and Jena as towns where racism is alive and well.