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Table of Brotherhood Project serves up call to bring about change

  • Written by Dorothy Bracy Alston

The Table of Brotherhood Project celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. via a four-city tour that culminates in Washington DC during the unveiling of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial on Aug. 28. At the end of the day, no one at last Saturday’s Table of Brotherhood Project – Memphis version – uncovered any hyper literate solutions to our cultural mêlée, but moderator and CNN analyst Roland Martin provided some strategic practical baby steps as a call to action.

 Urged to seek solutions, the Table of Brotherhood Project panel included (r-l) Dr. David Hall, Dr. Willie W. Herenton and the Rev. Dr. Samuel “Billy Kyles. (Photos by Tyrone P. Easley)

 CNN analyst Roland Martin moderated the Table of Brotherhood Project panel discussion, signing autographs after the session at the National Civil Rights Museum.

 Lisa Nichols, a best-selling author and empowerment coach, was a special guest at the Table of Brotherhood Project. She closed out the session with a thought-provoking poem written for the occasion. Download a copy at www.chevrolet.com/mlk.

 Dr. Herenton’s etched his signature into the Table of Brotherhood.

“The starting point is to decide what you want to change in Memphis – not the ten things, but one thing, and build that out. That’s where we start,” Martin said.

“The problem is we are not willing to start with one thing as a call to action. Write down one thing you are willing to devote 365 days to and get an accountability partner to remind you of that one thing you committed to.”

The Table of Brotherhood Project – sponsored by Chevrolet and the General Motors Foundation – celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. via a four-city tour that culminates in Washington DC during the unveiling of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial on Aug. 28. The date coincides with the 48th anniversary of King’s “I Have A Dream Speech.”

General Motors and the GM Foundation have donated over $10 million to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. And Chris Perry, GM vice president of Global Chevrolet Marketing and Strategy, is traveling with the tour.

 “While planning for the August 28 event, we thought about how to celebrate beyond Washington, DC and decided to begin in Atlanta, come to Memphis because of the National Civil Rights Museum, hit Chicago and then Washington,” said Perry.

“The project’s name came from Dr. King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech where Dr. King talked about ‘a table of brotherhood.’ We thought how appropriate. So we not only chose that name but we built three (wooden) tables of brotherhood, as part of the tour. The participants will sign them and the final table will rest in Washington, DC.”

Saturday’s 10-member Memphis panel included the Rev. Dr. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, a King confidante and pastor of Monumental Baptist Church; Congressman Steve Cohen; former Memphis Mayor Dr. Willie W. Herenton; Tomeka Hart, Memphis City Schools board member and president/CEO of the Memphis Urban League; Dr. David Hall, CEO of the Church of God in Christ Publishing House; radio personalities, Michael Adrian Davis of 95.7 Hallelujah FM and Stan Bell of V101.1 FM; Adrienne Bailey, president/CEO of Big Brother Big Sisters of Greater Memphis; and Sandra Roberts, education director, Children’s Holocaust Memorial.

The panelists offered thought provoking assessments and analysis of where we are and where we’re going as African Americans. Martin prodded them to find solutions.

“When America responds it operates on the defensive,” said Martin. “When there’s a crisis we respond to that. How do we get people to react and respond on the offensive rather than the defensive?”

How did participating affect the panelists?

“It rejuvenated me to get more involved in civic activities and to use my platform to change the masses,” said Michael Adrian Davis.

Hart said she felt honored to be part of the intergenerational discussion, noting that it was her second opportunity to sit on a panel with Dr. Kyles, who was pleased the tour made a Memphis stop.

“I am glad to be a part and feel honored and blessed because pioneers are not often available to walk the trails they blazed,” said Kyles.

“Looking through the eyes of history, I’m captivated by the young people who were not born during the movement, and now they are members of the school board and the city council.”

(For more information about the GM Foundation, visit www.gm.com/corporate/responsibility/community.)

(Dorothy Bracy Alston is a communications consultant, freelance writer and president of CISBA Associates. Visit her blog at http://www.Cisba ­Associates.blogspot.com; Join her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dorothybracy alston, email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 901-570-3923.)

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