TSD Memphis



The GOP and outreach; Dealing with the new voter photo ID law

In the souvenir program for its annual Lincoln Day Gala, the Shelby County GOP listed as the third platform of its principles a commitment to “Reject divisive racial tactics of any kind.


Mississippi hate crime case set to inch forward

A white teenager charged with intentionally running over an African-American man with his pickup truck in Jackson, Miss. last summer is fighting to have his trial moved to a predominately non-black county.


<br />Whitney Houston’s ex pays tribute on stage

As news of the death of Whitney Houston spread throughout the Landers Center arena in Southaven, Miss., Saturday night, fans gathered for the New Edition Reunion Tour wondered if band member Bobby Brown would appear.


Texting while driving a deadly specter for friends of Clifton B. Gibbs

The dangerous mix of driving and texting was detailed in a story I wrote a couple of years ago while exploring journalism as the iTeen reporter for Tri-State Defender.


Memphis lands on White House radar for business improvement

Several of the city’s top business leaders and independent minority business owners will be on a group conference call in a follow-up to a trip to the White House last week.


No money at Mo Money?

Despite the avalanche of problems facing Mo Money Taxes, co-owner Derrick Robinson says that any fears the company will be closed down by the challenges are unwarranted.


Dads and daughters set for unforgettable night

Girls Inc.’s Red & White Ball gives girls a chance to shine with the confidence, strength and beauty that they have learned to believe in as Girls Inc. members.


Integration of Memphis City Schools told in local film’s broadcast premiere

Fifty years ago, 13 African-American first graders took courageous steps to enter four formerly all-white elementary schools and break the practice of segregation in the Memphis City Schools.


Christmas Day baby brings joy to unlikely couple


Ask any question at all about his new baby and Dr. William Owens sounds like any other typical, doting father. Except for the fact that he is a 72-year-old retired educator and father of six grown children.


2011: The year in health

by Healthy Living News

Special to the Tri-State Defender

1) 30th Anniversary of the HIV pandemic: It was a sobering milestone. Thirty million have died and less than half of the tens of millions infected with HIV that need treatment are getting it (millions with HIV don’t even know they are infected). In the U.S., new CDC data shows less than a third with HIV get optimal care. But there has been tremendous progress made including a 15 percent reduction of new infections this past decade and a 22 percent decline in AIDS-related deaths the last five years. For millions around the world, having HIV is no longer the death sentence it was in 1981.

2) HIV 052-study treatment as prevention: Announced in March, it was the most significant development in HIV prevention so far. It proved that treating those with HIV can reduce transmission of their virus by up to 96 percent. A major game changer! Now there is a chance to end the HIV pandemic, to create “a generation without HIV.” Despite funding problems, implementation controversies (PrEP and circumcisions) and research setbacks (the VOICE gel study), the consensus seems to be that it still can be done. The human race can end the AIDS pandemic.

3) Hepatitis C drug breakthroughs: In 2011, new hepatitis C drugs significantly increased cure rates (to almost 70 percent), even among those chronically infected. And even more new HCV drugs are on the way.

4) The global obesity problem: Feeling more and more...crowded? Perhaps its because we are fat and getting fatter. In July, The Lancet reported nearly 1.5 billion adults in the world are overweight, and half a billion more obese. Meanwhile, the Trust for America’s Health reported that obesity in the U.S. increased in 16 states over the past year, with no states seeing a decrease. With the exception of Michigan, the 10 most obese states were in the South. The Northeast and West had the lowest rates. In eight states, over 10 percent of adults have type 2 diabetes. The implications of a fatter world, more heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, etc., etc.

5) Goodbye, food pyramid, hello, plate:  The USDA food pyramid switched to a colorful plate – called MyPlate – that divvies up the suggested diet to primarily fruits and vegetables (half), then some grains and proteins, followed by a dollop of dairy and healthy oils. Check it out at choosemyplate.gov.

6) Cancer screening confusion: Last year it was the mammogram mess. This year the confusion extended to prostate cancer screening. The question of for whom and when screening makes sense continued. What are the cost/benefits of screening? Should the focus be more on at risk cancer? Does screening detect cancers that don’t really need to be treated? What to do? Time and more research should tell. Meanwhile, CT scans for early detection of lung cancer may be a major breakthrough for early detection of lung cancer: In June, a NEJM study validated computer tomography as more effective screening tool than X-rays.

7) Know your cancer, know yourself: Knowing your cancer and then using targeted drug therapy to fight it led to big advances against melanoma, breast and lung cancers. As did genetic testing to know your own cancer risks. And fewer Americans are getting cancers, a new study showed, so prevention efforts such as reductions in hormone replacement therapy and cigarette smoking are working. Meanwhile, 2011 data showed cancer survivor-ship is increasing.

8) Cell phones cause cancer:  The World Health Organization announced mobile phone radiation may cause cancer. Some studies have been inconclusive while others show kids especially at risk. Telephone company-funded studies have claimed no risks for kids. Yet other interpreters of that data disagree.

9) Economy and its effect on health: The great recession may be officially over but it’s under-reported effects continue to take a toll on the health of Americans. Ten to fifteen million have lost health insurance. Studies also show the following: patients are canceling appointments, fewer are returning for recommended follow-up visits or refilling vital medications. Stats show poverty, homelessness and hunger are way up. Levels of stress, severe depression and suicides also are up, other studies show. So, 2012 can only get better, we hope.

10) Autism/MMR Vaccine Study a phony: Not only was the discredited study linking the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism poor science, it was an intentional fraud, according to an investigation published in January by the BMJ. The so-called doctor behind the 1998 study, Andrew Wakefield, MD, continued to defend it on the talk show circuit, however, while 10 of his co-authors repudiated the research. Also this year, a major vaccine review study by Institute of Medicines showed no serious or unusual health problems connected with commonly given vaccines.

Congressman apologizes after citing First Lady’s butt in rant

Congressman apologizes after citing First Lady’s butt in rant

First Lady Michelle Obama’s physical dimensions were the target of criticism by a Wisconsin Republican recently who criticized the First Lady’s Healthy Food Initiative as unwarranted government intrusion.

 Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) issued an apology to the First Lady Dec. 22 in a handwritten note. The congressman’s spokeswoman declined to detail what the note said.

Sensenbrenner was apologizing for saying Mrs. Obama has a “big butt” Dec. 10 at a Wisconsin church bazaar, then repeating the reference to her posterior in a cellphone conversation that was overheard in a Washington area airport.

“I regret my inappropriate comment and I have sent a personal note to the First Lady apologizing,” Sensenbrenner said in a statement Dec. 22.

“She lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself,” Sensenbrenner was heard to say Dec. 21 in a Ronald Reagan-National Airport passenger lounge in what was described in FishBowlDC as a “very loud” cellphone conversation.

At the church bazaar the outspoken GOP lawmaker, speaking to a group of church members, criticized Mrs. Obama’s initiative on healthy food and exercise, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He railed against the First Lady’s healthy foods initiative when talking about projects by other First Ladies. “And Michelle Obama, her project is obesity. And look at her big butt,” one female church member who was present during the apparently spontaneous comments told the Journal-Sentinel.

 He said it is hypocritical of the First Lady to push healthy eating and exercise at the same time hamburgers and fries are served at the White House.

Sensenbrenner’s rant echoes commentary by conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh who singled out the First Lady’s physical dimensions in criticizing her for traveling the country with her message about healthy eating, encouraging grocers to locate in underserved communities and urging the reversal of the nation’s growing obesity problem in Let’s Move!, an exercise program aimed at children.

“The problem is, and dare I say this, it doesn’t look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary, dietary advice...I’m trying to say that our First Lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you,” Limbaugh said during one show.

Sensenbrenner, who is a fan of shrimp and the cheese-flavored salty snack Cheetos, was referring to the first lady’s healthy food initiative in his remarks, the spokeswoman said. “He doesn’t think the government should be telling Americans what to eat,” a spokeswoman for Sensenbrenner told MailOnline.co/uk.

(Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper)

Electrolux warned to play fair in local contracting

by Tony Jones
Special to the Tri-State Defender

With “crunch time” having arrived, Electrolux is taking heat for having not moved more forcefully to involve “local and minority participation” in the building of its multi-million dollar Memphis appliance plant.

A letter clearly designed to dial up the pressure on Electrolux began circulating on Wednesday. It was written to Jacob Burroughs of Electrolux Major Appliances and signed by Shelby County Delegation Chair, Beverly Marrero; Shelby County Commission Chairman, Sidney Chism; and Memphis City Council Chairman, Myron Lowery.

“We have been informed that construction is moving forward after the third bidding process. In addition to supporting the jobs that will employ our local citizens, we also expect that our Memphis & Shelby County businesses would benefit from the approximately $90 million dollar construction budget,” the trio states in the letter.

“Since nearly a year ago, we have been in full support of this project.  However we cannot support a project that does not provide a return on investment to the communities that funded over $100 Million of taxpayer dollars.”

So what is the trio demanding? A written report “regarding participation levels prior to state and local approval and distribution of funds.”

Electrolux spokesperson Eloise Hale said the company is fully committed to assuring that minority and small businesses have a fair chance at gaining business from the plant’s contracting process. The company is nearing the awarding of an $80-million construction contract.

“I can assure you we fully appreciate the support of the state and city governments in this project. We are committed to spending $30 million during this process in the local business community,” said Hale.

“We are already using local companies during the early stages of the work. And by ‘local’ we do mean Memphis-area companies.”

The employment impact Electrolux brings to the table will definitely be of greatest benefit within the city’s limits, Hale added.

“The commitments in the contract that state we will be hiring from the Memphis area will be met.”

Commissioner Chism’s explanation of why the letter was written featured much more direct language than that conveyed in the letter.

“We gave them $40 million dollars (in incentives) to come here and they are not utilizing minority contractors,” Chism told the New Tri-State Defender on Wednesday. “And when I say minority contractors, I mean black contractors; and no small businesses from Shelby County. So far, they are spending their money with Mississippi contractors and we are not going to stand for it.

“They need to be doing business here in Memphis and Shelby County, not Mississippi. If we are going to be contributing to your bottom line, our only concern is jobs for our people.”

Known for his bluntness in the political arena after decades as a Teamster union leader, Chism continued.

“The point is they have the money and they feel they can do what they want.  They are being hard nosed and we have to be hard nosed. We have to rise up and loudly protest these types of deals. We’ve played fair and we demand to be treated fair,” he said.

“Both mayors need to get in there and pressure them to get this done right. We understand that corporate incentives are needed in many situations, but not if you think you can come in here and ignore our black and local businesses.”

Mayor AC Wharton Jr. could not be reached for an in-depth response before press time, but his office issued a statement outlining his and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s position.

“Both Mayor Luttrell and I have been in constant communication with top Electrolux officials to ensure that they understand fully that it is imperative to us that local residents and businesses, whose taxes were the source of a $40 million local contribution, enjoy full participation in all aspects of this project,” Wharton said in the statement.

“Electrolux officials and contractors have assured us they understand exactly what is expected of them and will cooperate with us to that end.”

Wharton is backed up by the new CEO/President of EDGE Memphis, Reid Dulberger. Just given the job, Reed was physically moving from his old office in the Chamber of Commerce building into his new office when the letter hit his email. He stopped what he was doing to give an explanation of the Electrolux deal and the responsibility of EDGE, which stands for Economic Development Growth Engine.

“We have done everything possible to assure that our minority- and women- owned businesses are given a real chance at gaining business with Electrolux and they have cooperated fully so far,” said Dulberger.

“While in the formal bidding process they made it very clear that they would not enter into a formal diversity assurance plan and any of the bidders could pull out if they wanted to. Not only did we decide to go forward with our bid, we made it a priority part of the process to outline where opportunities will lie. In every round of doing the work to win this contract we have emphasized without question our concern about making opportunities for our MWBEs (Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises),” said Dulberger.

“And we even went a step beyond the expected,” Dulberger recounted. “This is a huge, important and positive deal for the working force in this city and for small businesses, but also a unique one in the level of its intricateness. That is why we hired the firm of Allen & Hoshall to represent the city in this particular instance. They have not only identified the potential lines of business, but also developed a process to educate MWBEs and sought out the qualified ones to make sure they have a fair chance at doing business with Electrolux.”

Dulberger said EDGE contracts through WIN (Workforce Investment Network) to make sure that all facets of the community have “a fair chance at the jobs we bring in through the large corporate process.’

“The thing is, it’s down to crunch time and the biggest part of the contract is about to begin and we greatly anticipate a real benefit to our MWBEs and the workforce,” he said.

Pastors’ Spouses help new mothers with diaper needs

Special to the Tri-State Defender

Diapers – 1800-plus of them – were given to the Women’s Hospital at the Regional Medical Center on Tuesday (Dec. 20) for distribution to new moms delivering babies at The Med during this holiday season.

 The welcoming party for much-needed diapers for newborns included (l-r) Bettye Givens, Project Coordinator, Sunrise Program for Teens; Paula Lingeman, Director of the Women’s Hospital at The Regional Medical Center at Memphis; Fannie Marlow Coleman, First Lady of Refreshing Springs Church of God in Christ; and Lt. Allen Hardrick with The Med security force. (Photo by Tyrone P. Easley)

The diapers were collected through Memphis area churches and reflect a nationwide initiative by the National Coalition of Pastors’ Spouses (NCPS) to meet what is being called a crisis.

A groundbreaking 2010 study commissioned by Kimberly Clark’s Huggies Brand determined that one in three American moms are struggling to provide diapers for their babies.

Memphis-area supporters of the NCPS initiative point to what they term “too many African-American teen moms” who are known to be stressing each day because they lack the ability to provide their babies with clean, dry disposable diapers. There are reports of young moms who have had to cut back on food, utilities or other necessities in order to buy diapers.  Some have to leave diapers on their babies for one to two days.  Or worse yet, dry the diapers in the sun and reuse the unsanitary items.

“We are so appreciative of the various churches and pastors’ spouses who have heard the clarion cry and have responded to meet this critical diaper need in the Memphis community.  In this struggling economy, so many young mothers often have to make decisions on whether to keep their utilities on...or buy baby diapers,” said Fannie Marlow Coleman, First Lady of Refreshing Springs COGIC, the organizer and spear-header of the 2011 Tennessee  “Hug-a-baby” diaper drive,

“So we reached out to pastors’ wives, and former wives – such as Mrs. Louise Patterson, President of Bountiful Blessings, Inc., and widow of the late Bishop G.E. Patterson – who have come together to make generous donations to this effort.”

NCPS stepped up around the nation to meet the challenge. Soliciting support from parishioners and church members, pastors’ spouses have been busy collecting and distributing diapers to moms in need during this holiday season.

Over 3000 packages of diapers were collected in the past three weeks. In addition to Tuesday’s delivery to The Med, diapers have been distributed via Christmas baskets and to local day care centers.

The National Coalition of Pastors’ Spouses collected and distributed over 3500 diaper packages during last year’s inaugural diaper drive. The clergy wives this year have already topped last year’s goal, said Vivian Berryhill, NCPS president and founder.

“Our target states for this year included, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi. The church has always been, and continues to be the institution in the African American community where people can turn to in times of need,” said Berryhill.

“My hat’s off to Fannie Coleman and the fantastic team of women for rolling up their sleeves, bundling these thousands of diapers up, picking diapers up in their cars and SUVs, and getting them out into neighborhoods across this nation.”