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Saving Our Seed – A Gathering of African American Men


On Saturday (Aug. 3), 200-plus African American men from throughout the Memphis region came together for the second time in as many weeks to address a variety of issues specifically relating to African American men.

 Radio and television talk show host, Thaddeus Matthews, initially called the gathering. The response to that call was substantially larger and more diverse than most would have expected. Initially coined “The Black Men’s Summit,” the crowd included men from all walks of life. Minister Anthony Muhammad and The Nation of Islam’s Mosque #55 facilitated this second gathering. Local pastors, gang members, business owners and community activists all made their presence known and their voices heard.

 Having participated in many political and social gatherings for many years, and having been active in a plethora of community affairs, I listened to these men with an experienced ear toward grassroots organization and a hope that this was not another one-time event that would soon fade into the abyss of egotism and self-promotion. I quickly became aware that this was not the normal fist pumping, over hyped rally that would end with no follow through.

 Minister Muhammad opened the gathering with a well-developed audiovisual presentation on the meaning of “movement” and the need for a common goal and purpose. His presentation was followed by an open and substantive discussion from the attendees. The topics ranged from “reaching out to African American youth” to creating a network of men who would intervene and interact with African-American men recently released from regional penal institutions. The level of intellectual discussion was impressive and the promises of continued participation was overwhelming.

 Recent national reports on the plight of the African American male certainly justify and under gird the need for such gatherings. The United States Justice Department reports that there is a 60 percent chance that an African-American male over the age of 24 will come into contact with the criminal justice system in one form or another. Similar reports indicate that there are 40 percent more African American men in prison than there are in colleges and universities. With such statistics as a backdrop, the presence of such a large group of men gathered together with a common purpose is nothing less than promising.

 Local elected officials and traditional community leaders were noticeably absent from the gathering. One must wonder how such an event could occur in the heart of Memphis’s urban center, with so many men reaching out for answers, yet those persons elected to lead this community either chose not to attend, or were so disconnected from their constituency that they were not aware of the event. In either case, the absence of recognized leadership clearly makes this a grassroots effort.

 Memphis has been saddled with extremely high rates of incidents of violent crimes, a juvenile justice system that is bursting at the seams, and an unemployment rate of over 10 percent. It is my belief that a grassroots movement geared toward community outreach by African American men is one particular remedy for these socioeconomic ills. When the common man decides to take charge of his community in such a positive manner, and begins to serve as the protector of his community and its youth, the mission of “saving our seed” is within reach.

 I applaud the organizers of this event and those who have committed to keeping it going.  There will be another meeting of these men next Saturday at Pursuit of God Christian Church, 3172 Signal Street, in the Frayser community. It is my hope that this third gathering of African American men will be as successful as the prior gatherings, and that the roots of this movement will take hold.

 (Javier Michael Bailey Sr. is a former Memphis attorney and current CEO of Javier Bailey Capital Group, Inc. You can find him on Facebook and at javierbailey.com.)

  • Written by by Javier Bailey
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Crash claims Corey Maclin; former wrestling promoter, sportscaster

Corey Maclin-600A simple statement wedged into a short release from the family of Corey Maclin became a building block that many in the Greater Memphis area used as they worked to process his death in a car crash in Mississippi late Tuesday (July 30) night.

"Corey Maclin loved Memphis and Memphians, and he dedicated his life to bringing joy and happiness to the whole Memphis community through the venues of news, entertainment, and through public service," the statement read.

The former Memphis Wrestling host and sportscaster was apparently traveling on south I-55 near Sardis, Miss. when the one-car accident happened about 10:30 p.m. The Mississippi Highway Patrol confirmed the fatal crash.

Mayor Wharton: Unfiltered

Mayor-AC-Wharton-600The New Tri-State Defender periodically provides newsmakers with an unfiltered forum to address current affairs. Readers can then dissect the offered viewpoints, comparing and contrasting what they read to what they have heard and/or thought. This week, Mayor AC Wharton Jr. is at the plate. With the flak recently directed his way, the TSD was particularly interested in knowing what he thinks is up with that.

Q: You've taken a lot of criticism throughout the budget process from Council members, union leaders and city employees, and citizens slamming you for lack of leadership, not supporting employees, pandering to big business and doing nothing for small businesses. How do you respond to the criticism?

Students pose questions, offer advice to new Supt. Hopson

Dorsey Hopson-600Recent changes to the Memphis and Shelby County school systems may only appear to be affecting students and parents, but Shelby County School District Supt. Dorsey Hopson clearly knows otherwise.

Hopson came to the summer journalism camp at the University of Memphis on Monday (July 29) and had a chance to hear from some of the students who will be a part of the upcoming unified school system.

"Everyday there is something to worry about... like 20 tests in one day," said Hopson, in an attempt to convey to the students the difficulty he faces on the job.

Services Saturday for Rep. Lois M. DeBerry; accolades flow on

Lois DeBerry-plus2-600The family of Tennessee State Rep. Lois M. DeBerry and the public that she served will say goodbye to her during services set for Saturday, Aug. 3.

Rep. DeBerry – the first female Speaker Pro-Tempore and the second African-American to hold that position – died Sunday afternoon at Methodist Hospital South after a bout with pancreatic cancer. She was 68.

The family of Rep. Lois M. DeBerry, known to many as "Lady D," announced the following service arrangements:

Family Graveside Service:

MLGW conference set for Aug. 2 to back neighborhood progress

MLGWneighborhood-300Memphis Light, Gas & Water will present its annual Neighborhood Leaders Conference at the MLGW Joyce M. Blackmon Training Center at 4949 Raleigh LaGrange from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Aug. 2.

The conference will feature multiple workshop sessions where attendees can learn about Memphis' "most pressing neighborhood issues" while networking with other community leaders.

This year's theme is "Neighborhoods Get Down to Business" and the main focus is addressing the community's environmental and business concerns.

Community leaders and officials will be in attendance on behalf of their own neighborhoods, but will be sharing knowledge that can be applied to every community.

Aug. 10 forum: Mass Imprisonment and the Black Community

massprison-250Prisons and jails are the 21st century plantations for black people in the United States, say the organizers of Mass Imprisonment and the Black Community; A National Crisis – forum set for Aug. 10.

Sponsored by the Memphis Black Autonomy Federation (MBAF), the forum will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Java Complex, 1423 Elvis Presley Blvd.

Although African Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for nearly half of the total 2.3 million prisoners in America, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice. The disproportion can be directly tied to the high level of black unemployment, says JoNina Ervin, the acting chair of the MBAF.

Community champion Rep. Lois DeBerry dies at 68

Deberry1-400"Christian, trailblazer, role model, a strong advocate for children, education and promoting women, fighter, leader, mentor, and most importantly a friend who supported and helped many in so many ways. She was strong, stern and no-nonsense, but very kind, compassionate and big- hearted."

That's the reflection of Gales Jones Carson, a member of the Democratic National Committee, upon the passing Sunday of State Rep. Lois DeBerry, the longest serving member in the Tennessee House of Representatives. Carson's reflection has elements echoed by many.

With family and friends nearby, Rep. DeBerry, 68, died about 12:30 p.m. at Methodist Hospital South. The way she handled her extended challenge from pancreatic cancer was emblematic of how she lived her life and served her district in South Memphis.