One family name is synonymous with the Black Press in the United States: Sengstacke. Thomas Maurice Sengstacke Picou, the nephew of John H. Sengstacke, played an integral part in helping his uncle build a family of newspapers that included The Chicago Defender, the Michigan Chronicle in Detroit, the New Pittsburgh Courier, and the Tri-State Defender in Memphis.
After Sengstacke's death in 1997, Picou acquired the funding to purchase Sengstacke Enterprises. He gained control in 2003 and created Real Times, Inc., a holding company that owned the newspapers. He served as Real Times' president, CEO and chairman and began rebuilding the brand to reflect the times.
On Feb. 8th, Picou died following a medical procedure at Centennial Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, Calif. He was 76.
Benjamin Crump leaned back onto the lectern, clutching the microphone – the moment punctuated by his lack of words and a silence that spoke to his deeply-rooted emotion.
A chorus of "That's alright" sprang from the crowd. Crump, who represented the family of Trayvon Martin in the 2013 case, State of Florida v George Zimmerman, lifted his microphone, head slightly bowed. This time he had the words.
"If we do not stand up for our children, nobody will," Crump said.
One after another, they poured into the Booker T. Washington High School auditorium last Saturday (Feb. 22nd) led by their team coaches, all Memphis Police Department officers – chiefs, colonels, majors, sergeants and the like.
Sworn to protect and serve, these mighty MPD men and women added an addendum named Teach to that oath. Fully dressed in their uniforms, with weapons, handcuffs and badges in place, they jokingly and warmly readied their teams for intellectual combat.
Tucked in the various corners of the auditorium, the 2014 Black History Knowledge Bowl teams gathered in circles discussing the historical task at hand.
With Black History Month coming to a close, many have spent the past weeks reflecting on the nation's civil rights movement and its leaders, including many who were active in the Mid-South.
One of the best-known, local civil rights pioneers is Memphis native Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks, who died nearly four years ago at age 85 and is buried at historic Elmwood Cemetery. Six miles away at the University of Memphis, Hooks' legacy lives on at the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change, which works to teach, study and promote civil rights and social change.
The Institute's mission is reflected in its broad range of activities, which includes conducting research, hosting conferences and lectures, and promoting and honoring scholarship on civil and human rights.
South Main was alive as more than 300 people watched 26 young poets bridge gaps between hip-hop, millennials and past civil rights movements at the National Civil Rights Museum Drop the Mic Poetry Slam.
The Saturday night (Feb. 22nd) slam, part of the National Civil Rights Museum's spring 2014 grand reopening events, was a creative outlet for youth throughout the region to express their views on freedom and involve themselves in current civil rights issues. The theme for the night was "My Freedom Is," where students from as far as Bolivar, Miss. performed poems that addressed issues such as slavery, segregation, war, poverty and education.
First place winner Markuitta Washington, a Rust College alumnae, was ecstatic about winning.
"I'm so grateful that the judges thought what I had to say about freedom and civil rights is meaningful; that's what means the most to me," said Washington.
The Regional Medical Center at Memphis, known for 30 years as The MED, passed quietly into the annals of Memphis history Wednesday with the unveiling of a new name – Regional One Health.
CEO and President Reginald W. Coopwood took the wraps off the facility's new logo and name change, already posted where The MED used to be.
"When the Shelby County Health Care Corporation adopted the name Regional Medical Center in 1983, the organization was a stand-alone acute care hospital. Over the years, a broader reach of inpatient and outpatient services have been added, but we continued to be identified under the hospital name," explained Coopwood, who is also an MD.
Local filmmaker George Tillman 's Creative Arts film company will screen its second completed documentary tonight (Feb. 26th) at Studio On The Square at 2105 Court St.
"True Blue – Memphis Lawmen of 1948" explores the impact of the historic 1948 hiring of the city's first African-American policemen, including their influence on the African-American directors that would later run the department.
Along with Tillman's earlier Cinematic Arts release, "True Blue – Memphis Lawmen of 1948" is being prepared for presentation at Langston University in Oklahoma and Chicago State University in March. Arrangements also are being finalized for presentations in Waukegan, Ill. and New York before submission on the independent film festival circuit.