Where are the students? A common narrative.

It’s less than a week away from school starting and according to SCS officials and floating news reports, there are a whopping 20,000 children who still have not registered for school.

Some schools started as early as last Wednesday, a few started on this past Wednesday, and Shelby County Schools officially went back on Monday,August 6, 2018.

Even with very rigorous and intentional pre-registration efforts by the district, the number of non-registered students is still astronomically high, though not surprising.

In recent years, there have been similar reports and discussion around “Where are the children?” and more directly, “Where are the parents?” These children, of course, can’t register themselves.

It speaks to a bigger problem that leads to late registration of students, inaccurate resource counts from school leaders and the inability to properly plan when the numbers are so low, imbalanced, and inaccurate. It goes to the frustration of having to play catch up and/or just not being certain as to who and how many will show up for the first day.

The question lingers around how more convenient can the process. Currently, there’s both the option of online and in-school registration and multiple times in which both pre-registration and enrollment can occur. So if time is not the issue or convenience, then what exactly keeps parents from registering their children before the first day of school?

I reached out to a few parents and community leaders and asked them the simple question, “What do you think caused 20,000 students from being registered for school?“

Below are a few of the responses:

No sense of urgency from families/parent/guardians; No connection between school/community/families. The process itself is difficult, having to have proof of residency; No deadline is required to have a child registered which means no consequence for not being registered; if the district doesn’t take it seriously, why would the parent? Also, you have some families who may be in fear of deportation…

-Ashley Johnson, Community Member

ICE, maybe!! I got a text today from someone who said immigration came to their job a couple of weeks ago to interview all of the Hispanic employees and today they found out everyone has to leave but two!

So if Hispanic adults are losing their job then I’m sure they’re fearful for their kids.

What I don’t understand is why haven’t the media asked what is the demographics of those students that have not registered yet for school? That’s endless media hits for them if they uncover it’s related to ICE.

-TJ Jefferson, Community Member

Lack of access to computers even though there are libraries everywhere. 2. Using someone else’s address and getting that proof to the school. 3. Not able to get to the school because of work schedule. 4. Just bad parenting decisions.

-April Terrell, Community Member

Lack of Parental Concern. I have asked and some have the registered their child was told nope very nonchalant. They’re more focused on social media and other nonfactors and the new parents who wouldn’t even vote really hurting our babies.

-Wanlisha Hawkins, Parent

I honestly think it’s related to a computer glitch. I’m getting system generated emails. Taelor was registered back in March. I received that email back in March. I have no clue why I’ve received two more emails since then, a few calls and text messages AND an email from the PTA president. And that’s something they wouldn’t dare disclose to the public. They need to have more proactive measures: a child needs to be registered and approved for the next school yet prior to receiving their last report card. Heck, make it earlier than that! Any changes to addresses or transfers need to be received and processed by August 1st.

-Crystal Sawyer, Parent

Interesting perspectives from both community members and parents. They even added some insightful suggestions too. I do believe the number has to be more streamlined and figuring out more who those 20,000 students are. Are these numbers reflective of students who are in fear of being deported? If so, what measures are in place to assist with this reality for families? Is this more of a city-wide issue than just the school district?

The school year’s start is right around the corner. For the sake of the academic and social success of students, let’s hope this number significantly decreases soon. Whatever the actual issues, they should be revealed and addressed so that as a community we can solve why students not being registered.

*Calling all young Queens*

The QueenEsteem Agency is proud to host the first annual 2018 Summer Queen Rally, Saturday, July 21st, 2018 from 9AM-2PM at LeMoyne Owen College! 

QueenEsteem, founded by sisters Jaida Elise and Joia Erin, promotes astronomical self-confidence for girls and collaboration with other local groups.

The event is for girls 3rd – 12th Grade in Memphis and The Midsouth area. We are offering a mini 1-day conference along with interactive small group sessions promoting and enhancing confidence, integrity, professionalism and leadership. Seats are limited!

Morning Sessions include powerful chants & cheers and afternoon sessions include grade related confidence-building small groups! 

For ticket information-please visit Eventbrite:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-queen-rally-tickets-46961853167?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

If you are interested in joining the movement, volunteer or booking opportunity- please email: queenesteem901@gmail.com.

Nonprofit Highlight: The College Initiative

Memphis is home to a lot of nonprofits and organizations committed to giving back to the community, serving families in a variety of ways, and helping to advance the city forward by assisting the underserved.  One of the newest organizations in our city has committed to serving the high school student population in helping them prepare successfully for college and life beyond high school.

The College Initiative (TCI), founded in 2013, provides college-capable, low-income high school students with the tools and mentorship they need to successfully apply to and succeed in college. The College Initiative (TCI) forms partnerships with school districts, energetic teachers, and college student volunteers to ensure that every student aspiring to go to college will have the opportunity to do so.

I recently met with one the of the Program Coordinators of the College Initiative, Ms. April Terrell and obtained her insight around the future goals of the program. April’s primary goal and hope is centered around students becoming more prepared as it relates to college.  She wants them to have a better understanding of the financial implications associated with choosing and attending a college, awareness of financial aid resources, and learning the various resources (advisors, writing labs, career services) available on a college campus to students.

Another area in which April helps students directly is by assisting them with social-work-school balance. April believes that students must be able to find the balance between these factors without having to suffer academically and/or becoming overwhelmed by wanting a fulfilling well-rounded college experience.

As TCI enters into its 6th year, the team is thinking strategically around ways to engage more community partners and organizations with existing youth programs like Boys & Girls Club, Girls, Inc., Streets Ministries, Ballet Memphis, etc. To date, TCI has worked with several community partners and organizations such as: UCAN of Memphis, TN Federation for Children, Young Actors Guild, City of Memphis-Office of Youth Services, and the Destiny House (just to name a few).

April is looking forward to watching the work unfold and assisting students with the post-secondary success. It is her hope that TCI is able to expand upon its mission and work with more high schools in the years to come.

The College Initiative (TCI) can be located via social media using the hashtag #theCollegeInitiative. *To contact April about the College Initiative, you can email her at april.terrell@thecollegeinitiative.org

 

EMPOWERMENT OPPORTUNITY/Job Announcement: Adult Education-TN

Start Date: July 2018

Here’s the criteria (especially because these are my peeps). Now, this may be altered once you actually talk to Lytania. However, as for me-here’s my list:

1. Openness & Compassion. Don’t cringe your nose up at my folks. Everyone has a different story. Them not finishing high school (in the traditional sense) does not diminish who they are or able to become in any way. Check biases, judgments, pre-conceived notions at the door.

2. Ability to connect. Students need more than you “lording” over them. Most of them just need someone willing to connect, build relationship with and encourage them on the journey. You’d be surprised at how disconnected & discouraged they were from obtaining their diploma because of the idiots in the fronts of classrooms and in schools. (did I say/write this one publicly)? Oh well.

3. Learn as you go. This isn’t a traditional classroom so its not as rigid. All curriculum materials are provided but you definitely have to find your flow/pace and get to know your audience while assessing what works and what doesn’t. NO one is giving you a script. Create your own (the BEST part).

4. Willing to teach. This can be described in a lot of ways. For me, I am gifted to teach, so its not as challenging. However, at minimum, you do need to have a heart to want to see people over the threshold of “not knowing to knowing” (My definition of learning). Give them more than what the curriculum requires, help them to leave with more than just a piece of paper and show them that learning and the love for it should be life-long even beyond the obtaining of anything. Learn just because….if you can plant that seed-you’ve just changed an entire life (in my opinion).

Okay. Now of course-these requirements are not legit by any means. However, they would be helpful assets.

Again, if you or anyone you know is interested, let me know.

My class schedule is:

T/Th: 9:00am-12noon (Southwest TN Community College-Gill campus) and 1pm-3pm (TN Department of Corrections-Day Reporting Center)

That’s it! And….yes!! This is a paid opportunity!

For more details, contact Lytania Black (e: lblack@whyhopeworks.org)

Rhonnie Brewer, Candidate for Shelby County School Board

As we continue to build momentum around this year’s general election on August 2nd, we would like to continue highlighting the new faces and brave souls who are taking a huge step into the political arena and throwing their name in the hat to become part of our school board in Shelby County.

The Shelby County Board of Education governs the business operations of Shelby County Schools and is comprised of nine  elected board members representing all districts in Shelby County. Through its governance, the Shelby County Board of Education is committed to its mission of preparing all students for success in learning, leadership, and life.

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to share moments with some of the new faces we’re seeing and I’m delighted to share some awareness around who these individuals are and what they have to share and offer the families of Shelby County.

Among the newer faces running for this year’s election is Mrs. Rhonnie Brewer. Again, this is not an official endorsement blog. Rather an opportunity to present to this city one of the candidates for the commissioner race, but more than that, someone that’s willing to take a stand and possibly serve in a greater capacity the families of Shelby County.

Rhonnie Brewer, Candidate for Shelby County School Board, is a community-minded professional who has a passion for building strong relationships within the Memphis metropolitan area. As President of the Guild at the Memphis Urban League, she focuses on driving the goals of the league, in order to support its initiative of empowering the community. She is also the Chief Visionary Officer of Socially Twisted a boutique firm focused on social change and community relations and founder of Memphis Startup, a startup support organization providing resources and support to the small business and technology ecosystems in Memphis, bringing together people and resources in an interconnected network of education and entrepreneurship.

She also has years of experience in event planning, leadership, and community relations through her commitments in various organizations such as Memphis Urban League Young Professionals, COPPER (Coalition for Organizing and Protecting People’s Equal Rights), Memphis Entrepreneur Academy, Community Shares, and several other organizations. Rhonnie is also a member of the National Coalition of Black Women and a Fellow of the Leadership Memphis Executive Class. Rhonnie also attended the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University and recently announced her candidacy for Shelby County School Board, District 9.

Rhonnie is a community activist who has coined hashtag #Socialite4SocialChange because of her passion for social justice, education, community involvement, and civic engagement. In addition to her many endeavors, Rhonnie also co-hosts the “What’s Happening Myron Show”, a local radio show about news, current events, and entertainment on 88.5 FM, The Voice of Shelby County Schools.

Below is my interview with Mrs. Brewer:

1. What is the inspiration behind your running for School Board Commissioner?

When my oldest daughter was in high school. I had a startling realization. We had created a college “cattle call.” We sold our children a narrative that they were either “college bound”or they would be a failure. The truth is that there are many paths to success and our children deserve to be exposed to the options that are available to them. Whether they choose to learn a skilled trade, attend college, join the military, or even try their hand at entrepreneurship, they should have access.

2. Describe your district (ethnic makeup, populations, neighborhoods, income level, etc.) The district is very diverse it encompasses the historic Orange Mound Community, parts of Hickory Hill, East Memphis and a bit of the area around the University of Memphis. It is a melting pot of ethnic backgrounds and income levels.

3. What is your platform? My platform is built on three things: Quality Education, Skilled Job Opportunities, and Entrepreneurship.

Quality Education – I am dedicated and committed to serving the children of District 9. I believe all students should have the same quality of education regardless of zip code.

Skilled Job Opportunities – Over the last three years, I  have secured apprenticeship opportunities through Apprenticeship Fairs, most notably for high school seniors, who may not be college bound.

Entrepreneurship –  Over the past four years, I have led classes in entrepreneurship. I truly believe our youth have the capacity to venture beyond the lemonade stand.

4. How has the support been around you running for public office? There has been a tremendous amount of support around me running for office. I am motivated everyday by the people who believe in me and believe that I can help shape a better future for our students.

5. What are ways in which the public can help your particular efforts? Tell a friend! For years, I have encouraged people to have a “vote buddy” someone that holds you accountable when it is time to vote. We all get very busy in our lives and sometimes voting can seem like just one more thing to add to the “to do” list. Having a vote buddy, helps ensure you both make it to the polls. My hope is when you get there, you will both vote for me! Besides that, we can always use volunteers on the campaign and all are welcome.

6. Besides winning the election and serving as Board Commissioner, what other ways  (in the near future) are you planning to serve the community and the constituents of Shelby County? Currently, I am advocating to restore food security in our communities. Across the city, we have suffered from food deserts. This puts the most vulnerable of our community in jeopardy. There is a direct connection between hunger and educational performance. Additionally, I have hosted apprenticeship fairs for three years to help connect people to skilled-job opportunities. I also host an annual basketball camp called D.U.N.K. (Developing Urban Neighborhoods & Kids) Camp. We work with students to teach them not only basketball, but conflict resolution, volunteerism, civic engagement, and many other life skills.

7. Give a fun fact? Or something the public wouldn’t know about you that you don’t mind sharing? I am a huge sci-fi geek! I can watch hours of Doctor Who and recently fell in love with the new Lost In Space. Super heroes movies are top of my list! #WakandaForever!

8. What are some of the biggest challenges facing our district today? One of the issues that I have really been looking into is professional development. We have rolled out several new initiatives, programs, and even a new curriculum. As I visit schools throughout the district, the biggest concerns of administrators and educators alike is what they feel is the lack of professional development and training they received prior to these roll outs. This is alarming to me because they are the front line. If they are not comfortable with it, how do they effectively transfer this knowledge to students, staff, etc.?

Another major concern for me is uniformity, we must work to provide a uniform/consistent education across the board. Third grade in one school should reflect third grade in another. If a child has to move during the school year, they should be able to walk into their new classroom and pick up right where they left off.

And, we must address the “elephant in the room,” TN Ready! We must continue to advocate on behalf of our students. In its current state, this is an unfair assessment of our students and does not provide a fair and balanced reflection of their capabilities. And, let’s face it, it’s time for a new solution.

9. What should the public know and understand about the role of Board Commissioner? The job of a Board Commissioner is to set policy and vision for the direction of the school board.

10. Tell us a little bit about yourself- Born and raised? Anything personal testament or journey? Schools attended? Etc. I am a native of South Central Los Angeles, however, I consider myself a “Memphian by Choice.” I love this city and its citizens.

11. Any final thoughts?

Every child has a pathway to success, it is our job to help them at the fork in the road!

Thank you Mrs. Brewer for your time and contributions. We wish you much success in the upcoming election and future endeavors.

Don’t forget: General Election. August 2nd

Make your voice count. Get out and vote.

 

Praying Mothers

Ms. Walisha Hawkins, mom and parent advocate, recently celebrated the NFL drafting of her youngest son, Central High School & Louisiana State University (LSU) graduate, Frank Herron.  Ms. Hawkins daughter, Ashley Hawkins, posted on Facebook this quote about her mom after the draft:

“we ain’t always did right, but she never stopped praying…”

As I sat amongst Frank’s family and friends, me being humbled and privileged to be one in the number, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past seven or so years of friendship I’ve shared with his mom, Wanlisha.

As proud as I am of Frank, his work ethic, and his recent accomplishments, my heart beamed in honor of my friend, who as her daughter penned accurately is a “praying mother.”

As we near Mother’s Day, I thought it would be beneficial to capture this moment as a source of inspiration for someone else. So many like Wanlisha, come from unfavorable conditions where it is easy to conclude that life will just never be easy  Despite that seemingly harsh and unfair reality, wholehearted and confident faith in God and the words of the bible bring the spirit that “with God, anything is possible!” I salute my friend for having this level of faith and I’ve watched her live this faith amongst her family, friends, co-workers, and children. They watched momma pray. They watched momma sacrifice. They watched momma keep doing despite of. hey watched momma praise and thank God for it all.

Wanlisha, a Chicago native, moved her family to Memphis from East St. Louis about 21 years ago. Her advocacy work came because of her growing engagement as a parent advocate of her own children first. Frank, being diagnosed with a learning disability, had to also learn how to become an advocate for himself if he would ever push through the barriers that limit students with learning disabilities and/or special needs.

She noticed early the academic struggles of Frank and stopped at nothing to ensure he would receive the best educational opportunities. It was at this point, Wanlisha begin to slowly understand the fight she would have in fighting for her children, but yet she pressed and prayed. She transferred Frank from a West Memphis school to a Memphis school when he was in the 7th grade, and from that point, Wanlisha became highly active, engaged and most importantly, something our parents something miss being-very vocal. She learned of her rights as a parent and took it from there.

Before there were advocacy groups, before the days of parent voice, Wanlisha was maneuvering through the advocacy space without technical definition and/or training. Interestingly, by the time I stepped into the wonderful world of advocacy, it was no surprise that I grabbed hold to Wanlisha and took her along with me, for she had way more insight than anyone I knew of at the time. She shared her story and she helped other parents.

Frank ended up receiving the supports he needed. He graduated from Central High School and went on to LSU and the rest is really history. Last summer, Frank finished his time at LSU completing his degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and then he went on to prepare to enter the 2018 NFL draft.

Late Saturday evening, the call came through. Frank Herron, just a black kid from Memphis, who never had it easy, but had a praying mother signed with the New England Patriots. I am excited about what’s to come out of this young man and just how his story can and will impact the lives of many-starting with the kids right here in Memphis.

And lastly, we salute my friend, colleague and sister. I want her to know that God has way more in store for her life, even beyond seeing her children live out their dreams. We applaud this mom for pressing through years of struggle to get to this place of triumph.

I am convinced that her ability to advocate helped to propel Frank’s academic success and in turn, she imparted into him the importance of advocating for self. What a gift and what a legacy that God has afforded Wanlisha the opportunity to build. We look forward to the next chapter.

To parents everywhere—please know that your prayers do not go unheard and dreams still do come true. Keep believing. Keep pressing. And keep praying. Moments like this helps to remind us that no matter what or children might endure, we have a God that’s covering us all. With that, we can rest in knowing, it’s all apart of God’s Plan. (Thanks Drake for the timely reminder) #goMemphis #Memphismade #blackkidsfromMemphisWINS #parentvoicematters #allparentsrock #aprayingmother

Happy Mother’s Day to mothers everywhere!!!

 

Candidate Spotlight – Percy M. Hunter

It’s election time here in Memphis, TN and as exciting as that time usually is,it has become more interesting as for the first time we are seeing an influx of younger and fresh faces attempting to take their shot at a seat in public office. As a spectator, I couldn’t be more intrigued by the tenacity of these individuals and as one who tries to be as politically engaged as my nerves will allow me to be, I’m hopeful as these individuals step into the political arena with the common intent to move this city forward in their various realms.

Before we go any further, no this is not an official endorsement blog; however, it is a spotlight on one of the many individuals that I’ve personally watched maneuver through the treacherous waters on the world of education in Memphis and across the state of Tennessee. This advocate, practitioner, and educational leader  has a heart for people. His character matches his walk and his intentions are always pure. These are Just some of the attributes I believe is something missing in those that hold public office. I would like to see them brought back to the office of public servants. It is indeed my pleasure to highlight one of the candidates running for Shelby County Schools Board Commissioner-District 6 (which is also my district), Percy M. Hunter.

I recently learned of Pastor’s Hunter admission into the race of Board Commissioner and was indeed surprised and elated. I sat down with Pastor Hunter to congratulate him for taking such a bold and well-needed step and to ask him about his platform, areas of concerns and what he plans to bring to the seat of Board Commissioner and specifically District 6, which covers parts of South Memphis, Westwood, and Whitehaven (please see attached map to determine district boundaries).

This was not an official interview, but I do want to share a few takeaways from my conversation with Pastor Hunter’s.

For one, Pastor Hunter understands the role and responsibilities of a SCS Board Commissioner which if you study the role in depth actually has some limitations, though the general public may not know this. Pastor Hunter rightfully understands what the role and the responsibilities look like in the areas of policy, procedures, and budget.  This is necessary as a Board Commissioner and the fact that Pastor Hunter can confidently speak on this before going into the role is a setup for success and will help the public to also rightfully understand the actual role of Board Member. I actually think a lot of the dissention lies with the general public not fully understanding the role and responsibilities of the local district’s governing board and even some board members not having  knowledge on what holding that seat means .

Pastor Hunter intends to take a bold stance in his platform related around student advocacy, parent voice and teachers. In my opinion, these are three of the most under-rated and least heard stakeholder groups in the entire district.  Personally and professionally, Pastor Hunter can speak intimately about each of these groups and add substance to why if we are to truly move the needle around educational achievement and the success of the district as a whole, these groups must be brought in, highly considered, and included in the processes. More than anything, they are also the three groups that hold the most power. Sad part is, more times than not, these groups don’t understand this and if you’ve ever sat back and watched, its almost heart-wrenching to hear of the ills surrounding our parents, students and teachers, the true heart of any district, school and city.

Pastor Hunter is also a respected member of the clergy community and his church is situated in the Whitehaven community. In previous roles, I’ve had the distinct pleasure to work with Pastor Hunter as a representative of the clergy community which speaks volumes in a city where sometimes, we can count on by hand the number of deeply engaged clergy. Typically, the clergy with the most skin in the game are those that lead our mid to large sized churches in the city. We know that the black Pastor is still viewed as an influential force in the black community, but I have witnessed first hand the struggles of helping to engage our clergy in various parts of the educational conversation.  So much so, I remember one of the first blogs I wrote was around the role of the black church in the educational reform movement. I can honestly say Pastor Hunter has been deeply involved in this movement, both in practice and theory for quite some time now and if I can steal a portion of 2 Timothy 2:15; has done his due diligence in “studying to show thyself approved.”

Pastor Hunter is also a parent which again speaks to his insight into our current educational landscape from yet again another lens. He represents so many perspectives and can easily articulate the various lens without fail. This kind of expertise, insight, and perspective is definitely needed in leadership and I happily salute Pastor Hunter for this step.

I wish him the best throughout this campaign and pray that the people of Memphis will do their due diligence of learning about each of the candidates, their platforms, their track record (check those receipts), and go to polls and choose wisely.

As of now, Pastor Hunter is running against the current seated Board Chair Shante Avant. To learn more about Pastor Hunter’s platform and/or to contact him-please email him directly at percymhunter@gmail.com

The election is August 2nd.

 

Shocked?! Why Would I Be?

I am not even shocked anymore at the latest news of racist acts throughout my own city, state, and even country. Seemingly, it has become the new norm amongst individuals to casually open fire in public places and kill those who are of a different ethnic descent. Words fail me continuously as I wrestle with my own emotions and thoughts and try to wrap my head around what’s really happening in the streets and communities of this country where we’ve been taught to sing, “home of the brave, land of the free.”

I don’t even know where to begin.

I guess it could make sense to start with the recent shooting in the Antioch neighborhood of Nashville, TN (less than 3 hours/230 miles) away from my city  or let’g go to Florida where a teen used a sign with these words, “If I was a black, I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white so I’m picking u 4 prom,” invoking a racial stereotype. Either tragedy, in my opinion, is centered again around the notion that somehow racial discriminatory practices and heinous acts against people have become the norm in this country, where even lawmakers and government officials, in some cases, uphold this foolery.

In the case of the teenager from Florida, he offered a generic apology saying that his actions was merely joke; however, in the case of the 4 victims in Antioch, we can’t say the same. Families are hurting and communities are grieving. As a race, we are consistently outraged and as a young person who has spent many nights out with friends in a Waffle House establishment, the thought of someone coming in with such hatred and an armed weapon to intentionally do harm would of never crossed my mind. But in 2018, the thought indeed has to cross my mind because whereas my intentions of sitting in a public place just enjoying life is my only intention, others lurking in this country might not feel the same.

Something is terribly wrong with a society when such acts have become the norm as recurring breaking news stories on all media outlets. It doesn’t have to hit close to home to be a reality and sting just the same.

What can one say to it all? Again, I’ve yet to find the perfect response. I think I am growing numb to it all; I don’t know if this is good or bad. Either way, I am highly disturbed and my prayers are simple:

Lord,

Continue to cover us all, your people. Cover our minds and hearts and help us all to reconcile what is seemingly becoming all of our realities. Help us to remember that you have not given us a spirit of fear, but a sound mind.

Dear Lord, I pray for all of those affected by the tragic acts of this past weekend, over the course of the last few months and years and years of turmoil, hatred and strife. I pray that we, your people, can continuously look to the hills from whence cometh our help.

I pray our hearts are not hardened and we continue to seek you for peace, comfort and guidance. I pray for the aggressors, those that have decided in their hearts and minds to join the enemy’s plot to kill, steal, and destroy and pray fervently that the days of the wicked will indeed be few in number. I pray I live to see true freedom ring and our dreams for us to walk in brotherly love, unity and peace come true. I pray for this country, its leaders, and the lives of those impacted. I pray for our children that they are able to grow up with the belief in a “better country” despite the one that’s evident now and still know you’ve called them to be change agents, world leaders, and if nothing else, dreamers.

I thank you for another day of life and allowing me to somehow do my part, with the grace and strength you’ve gifted me. I thank you for a right state of mind and being able to love people as you love us endlessly. Now God, grant us your continued grace and mercy. Give us divine wisdom on how to handle what is and what could be next and allow us, as people, to seek you for understanding and instruction.

Help us with what we don’t understand, so at least we’ll have peace and when we can’t seem to figure it all out, show us what next to do. Help us to keep the legacies of those lost lifted and never forgotten as reminders of the continued struggle and the continued journey towards victory that’s already been promised to us in your word. I thank you for a moment to just come to you, as humbly as I know how. Praying for answers, praying for a resolve, praying for understanding, praying for comfort, and praying for peace.

In Jesus name, I submit this request.

Amen.

 

TN Ready…Not Ready. Again…

Testing was not ready yesterday. When will we do something about others setting standards for us they cannot reach themselves?

I am not the biggest supporter of testing, but I do understand its place. However, the least we can do or should be able to expect from our state department of education, or the powers that be, is a test that is ready to be taken, when its supposed to be.

We talk about the test all year. We teach to the test all year. We try and prepare our students for the test all year. And then when the time comes, it’s not the students, parents, school staff that’s not ready. It’s the test.

That’s problematic for me. Highly problematic. What’s more disheartening is that more people aren’t outraged or at least pissed off enough to do/say something.

But I really want the stakeholders in Memphis to understand this: I just don’t know how to go about it.

But here’s what I do have:

Commissioner Candice McQueen Contact Info-

615.741.8457

Please let her know your concerns with TN Ready.

 

#EpicMoments #MLK50 listen up

One would assume on this morning, I’d still be on a high from the release of my freshman literary project as an e-book, “Facebook Statuses Turned Sermons” over the weekend. Though that did infuse an immense amount of excitement around the accomplishment (please go and check it out on Amazon)—the truth is, it wouldn’t come close to the joy beyond words for the encounter on Friday between Ms. Dwania Kyles, eldest daughter of the late Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, noted Civil Rights Leader and Pastor, and me. Christians observe the Good Friday holiday to commemorate the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Calvary’s Cross.  During my conversation with Ms. Kyles, she explicitly illustrated the happenings of another crucifixion that happened not as long ago as Jesus’ crucifixion, right here in this county and in my own backyard of Memphis , TN. Our conversation took place at the Withers Collection Museum and Gallery (333 Beale St), only minutes and blocks away from the Lorraine Motel (450 Mulberry St.)-now the historical National Civil Rights Museum where this modern-day crucifixion took place.  

You have to know me to understand why the moment was epic, downright amazing, and unforgettable to say the least. Ms. Kyles is a history maker herself.  She was part of the Memphis 13 and was one of 13 first graders in October 1961 to desegregate Memphis City Schools. Ms. Kyles walked me through the happenings of April 3-4, 1968—no Google, no film, no book, a personal account through her lens as a 13-year old 8th grader.  She still remembers the excitement of a dinner that was to be attended by the leader at her home the evening of April 4th, the days and years after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the role her father played, and why economics should be our ultimate focus.

She spoke to and awoken something within me, me the student of history and movement, the history teacher, and . the nationally-certified Civil Rights Museum tour guide. I was geeked and totally inspired. As a  resident of this city, I took it all in. I’m a journalist, but this interview was nothing short of mini-documentary perfect. I thank you God for yesterday and orchestrating it all and ordering my steps accordingly. Thank you to Dr. Denise Lofton for making it happen.

To my city, I hope you all take a moment to take in the events happening today. #MLK50 Though the interview was a full 60-minutes, I captured the final 30 via Facebook live. These are moments that are forever etched. #grateful – so many nuggets in just 1-hour. I hope you’ll find the time to take a listen:

Just a few takeaways:

A. You don’t need to get permission to be present.

B. You have to love yourself first if we’re going to help and heal this country.

C. There wouldn’t be a movement without the black church and women!