45 years after Dr. King – Now what?


Martin Luther King III, AFSCME International President Lee Saunders and thousands of others marched in commemoration of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 45 years ago in Memphis. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)


 A contingent of firefighters had a strong presence in the march that ended at the sight where Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)





Various causes were represented by the marchers who were undaunted by the rain that fell as they observed the 45th commemoration of Dr. King’s Death. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)


by Karanja A. Ajanaku

Across America, people are coming together to form “a new coalition of consciousness,” said Martin Luther King III, speaking at the kickoff of a Memphis march commemorating the death of his father, the iconic Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King died in Memphis on April 4, 1968 and the 45th commemoration of that fateful anniversary has given the annual observation significantly more pop.

Marchers – heavy with union members – assembled early on Beale St., outside the Memphis headquarters of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, Local 1733. The union has long represented Memphis sanitation workers, including those that Dr. King was in town to support when he was fatally shot on the balcony of the old Lorraine Motel.

“When women and men of good will stand up, justice occurs,” said King, who made references to challenges being faced today by Memphis sanitation department workers and other labor groups.

 Soon after, King, AFSCME officials (local and national), rank-and-file union members, and hundreds of others observed the renaming of the street in front of the local union’s headquarters. With the history of the 1968 Sanitation Strike brought present, the street became 1968 Strikers Lane.

Then it was time to march. A drizzle triggered the popping of few umbrellas, as the marchers made their way west on historic Beale Street before turning south on their way to the National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM), which now encompasses the old Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was killed.

“We shall not, we shall not be moved,” was the shared refrain as the march lurched onward, many carrying signs that bore what became the unofficial battle cry of the 1968 Strike – “I am a man.”

The march ended in the courtyard of the NCRM, giving way to an AFSCME Labor Union Rally. The roster of speakers included the union’s international president, Lee Saunders, the first African American to lead the union.

King shared his vision of what he is convinced must come next.

“We must create a new non-violent – that’s the key phrase, non-violent – movement to bring about the changes that are being sought in this city and across America,” said King.

During a noon-hour panel discussion entitled,  “Labor Unions: Then and Now,” union officials were joined by Alvin Turner, one of the surviving 1968 sanitation workers. And that evening, about half an hour before the observation of the 6:01 time when Dr. King was killed, the Museum kicked off its commemorative program.

New Memphis Branch NAACP President, the Rev. Keith Norman, set the tone. Members of Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc., Dr. King’s fraternity, followed up with the group’s pledge, song, and then the somber placement of a memorial wreath.

To read more visit kajanaku@tri-state




(Karanja A. Ajanaku is executive editor of The New Tri-State Defender in Memphis.)

‘My Republican Party’ has learned a lesson


by Raynard Jackson

Several of my readers of have questioned why I am writing positive articles about my Republican Party. The simple answer is that they deserve it. In the past, I have been very critical of my party because they have ignored the black community, disrespected our current president with incendiary language, and strayed away from our core principles and values.

Since last November’s elections, my party has seemed to have reflected on what happened during last year’s elections and have been open to positive criticism on how to best learn from the past. So, it’s not so much that my writing has changed as the facts have changed.

Current party chair Reince Priebus has begun to change the makeup of the party by beginning to hire minorities throughout the Republican National Committee (RNC). My writings have reflected my support for some of these changes and a continued willingness to work with the party to help it get back on track.

People need to remember that Priebus and the RNC are not policymaking entities. Rather, they are responsible for the execution of the principles advocated by the members of the RNC board and GOP members of Congress. The Congressional side of this equation leaves a lot to be desired, but one person on the Congressional side who really understands this issue is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.


Don’t be misled, know your fats

Trans-Fat-free-600Have you ever wondered what would be the best cooking oil to use considering that there are several brands to choose from on the store shelves? Whatever the brand, most of the cooking oils are loaded with fats. The problem is there is a misunderstanding about what is considered good fat verses bad fat.

The proof is in the mirror. When you eat unhealthy fats, you can expect a change in your appearance. The pounds will begin to add up and your body – if you over indulge to the point of becoming a glutton – will increase in size and your waistline will expand.

Certain fats can cause health problems. There are monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, trans fats, and saturated fats. To the layperson, it's hard to distinguish between good fats and bad fats. Even butter, which some believe has no fat in it at all, is in fact 100 percent fat.


Ben Carson, admirable man with a mistaken philosophy

BenCarsonBook-300Like giddy teenagers, Republican activists have fallen for another charming, personable and accomplished black conservative. Dr. Ben Carson is the newest object of their crush, which was born of a desperate need to attract more black men and women as high-profile standard-bearers.

You can't blame Republican loyalists for swooning over the doc, a renowned surgeon who rose from poverty to head pediatric neurosurgery at Baltimore's famed Johns Hopkins Hospital. If wooing voters of color were simply a matter of finding an attractive black face with an inspiring personal story and an impressive resume, Carson would be hard to beat.

But black voters tend to be more discerning than that. They have shown an unerring instinct for rejecting condescension and dismissing tokenism. There are many black Americans who admire Carson for his professional accomplishments (I'm one of them), but that admiration is unlikely to translate into votes.


Susan Taylor’s NAACP-gala appeal to put out the ‘fire’

Susan-L-Taylor-300The Memphis Branch of the NAACP's Freedom Fund Gala drew a crowd of supporters to the Grand Ball Room of the Memphis Cook Convention Center (March 20) for an annual event that brings out the best in Memphis.

Each year a keynote speaker tops off the evening with a poignant message that undergirds the message and mission of the NAACP. For the 37th gala, however, the keynote speaker graced the stage with poise, enthusiasm and zeal, and urged the audience to consider mentoring African-American children.

"We're only asking for an hour a week of your time. We're not asking you to become parents. We just need a little of your time," said Susan L. Taylor, a celebrated magazine columnist who rose through the ranks as a fashion and beauty editor, editorial director, and finally the editor in chief emeritus of Essence magazine.


Can the unity of the March on Washington be duplicated?

March on WashingtonDC-600In five months, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In 1963, the March was jointly called by the Civil Rights Movement's "Big Six" – A. Philip Randolph, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, James Farmer and John Lewis.

At this point, it is unclear whether today's leaders will come together and rally around the theme of jobs and justice as leaders did on August 28, 1963.

Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III are planning a march in Washington. Bernice King has announced a commemoration of the "I Have a Dream" speech at the King Center in Atlanta to observe the 50th anniversary. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Dr. King's old organization, will be holding its annual convention in the nation's capital the week of the anniversary and is considering holding an activity.


A ‘SAD’ state of affairs looms, if you don’t eat healthy

Chef Timothy Moore-160The winter months were relatively mild – not too frigid for Southerners like myself. Surprisingly, the birds are chirping, the pollen count is sure to rise, and the icky bugs are surfacing again.

Winter, it seems, is relative. The common denominator for us all is that being cooped up inside during a long winter without the sun's warm glow bathing our skin can lead to emotional discomfort and depression.

Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health described this problem in 1984 as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. It is a syndrome that causes people in cooler climates – where the nights are long and the days are short – to lapse into a state of depression until the return of spring and summer.


Why cigarettes are here to stay

cigarettes-600Whether you're a three-pack-a-day smoker who doesn't like being lectured to about the health risks, or you're a person who doesn't touch cigarettes and wouldn't smoke one if you were offered a Ferrari in exchange, picture this:

Imagine, for a moment, that cigarettes had never been invented. And that in 2013 an eager entrepreneur went to the Food and Drug Administration seeking approval for a new product – cigarettes – that he wanted to sell to the American people.

Imagine that the Food and Drug Administration, taking its time and doing its homework, came up with all the currently available medical evidence about the dangers of smoking.


Mentoring – It works for African-American males

Edward Tolliver-160No adult should shy away from mentoring "at risk" youth, especially African-American males.

Through the years, little has been done to erase the enormous gap that separates African-American males from the American mainstream. As markets and social conditions shift in the global economy, so does the competitive nature of those in it. Unfortunately, the greatest loser in the struggle is the African-American male and the odds stacked against his chance at educational progress.


Spring into a recharge of mind and body

Chef Timothy Moore-160Ah, spring is in the air. The flowers have begun to bloom and treetops are sprouting various shades of green leaves. It is a time of rebirth, will all forms of life making the remarkable return to their natural states.

For we humans, spring is a time to refresh, refocus and recharge the mind, body and spirit. Recharging may be challenging to some people, but it doesn't have to be. Recharging could mean simply walking, running, riding a bicycle or hiking the trails along a wooded area. In some sense, recharging will enhance one's state of mind and ultimately one's quality of life.

Quality, however, is relative and depends on what a person is doing to make it happen. When it comes to health, I would venture to say that most people are looking to make incremental changes for the better. If change is your goal, eating fresh fruits and vegetables will help you get started on a wondrous journey to good health.


GOP, confront your racism problem

LZ granderson-160(This article contains language that some readers may consider offensive.)

When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he reportedly said Democrats would lose the South for a generation. At the time, 115 of the 128 senators and representatives from the 11 former Confederate states were white Democrats.

Today, all Democratic congressmen from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia are black, except for John Barrow of Georgia; and all Republican congressmen from these states are white, except for Tim Scott of South Carolina.


Being moral only when it’s convenient

R Jackson-160As a result of Ohio's Republican Sen. Rob Portman's declaration last week that he now supports homosexual marriage, I am once again compelled to ask: Why are Christians and conservatives constantly apologizing for what they believe?

Portman said he changed his position because his son told him that he was homosexual. Typically, I would not write about someone's family issues. But, in this instance, I want to come at this issue from a somewhat different perspective. I want to use Portman's renunciation of his Christian beliefs to have a more broad discussion of morals and values.

You should know that Portman is one of the most decent people you will ever meet. It's almost impossible not to like Portman. People like Portman make me want to stay engaged in politics. Throughout his decades of public service, he has made it perfectly clear that he is a Christian conservative, who believes in the sanctity of life and marriage being between a man and a woman.


Klan rally inspires call for ‘People’s Conference’

Brad-300There has been much written and said about the March 30th planned rally of the KKK. This rally is inspired by recent Memphis City Council action changing the names of three Confederate parks, Nathan Bedford Forrest Park, Jefferson Davis Park and Confederate Park. The parks were given temporary placeholder names and their permanent names will be decided later with a great deal of promised public input.

These facts have been presented and these stories covered in the media and discussed in our workplaces, classrooms, places of worship and homes. Yet, it falls to the public, to the people of Memphis and Shelby County to answer one pivotal question. What is to be our response to this?

Some very sincere and passionate people believe in being at the scene of the Klan rally to show publicly and assertively that hate mongers such as the Klan and their ilk are neither welcome or wanted within our community. I personally don't propose that people go to the KKK event and counter protest. I think for many the spectre of violence at the 1998 Klan rally gives many in our community, especially those with children, pause.