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What if we looked past the election?

We are now at the beginning of early voting. By Tuesday, polls will be open all over Shelby County, and until August 2 you will have an opportunity to exercise your franchise through early voting. This is a privilege that many of us take for granted, which is unavailable in many parts of the country. Yet, if recent trends hold true, approximately four to nine percent of registered voters will visit the polls during this voting cycle.
Looking at this reality, we must add the toxic cynicism that now is a part of the community’s disillusion with the political process. Many see no reason to vote or hope. With this in mind, I offer this thought:
Look past the election.

Memphis playwright puts twist on the ‘Prodigal Son’ story

from mess_to_miracle
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, a man seeks his inheritance, wastes it, returns home, and is welcomed back with open arms. A Memphis playwright added a twist to this story and turned it into a gospel stage play, which debuted July 12th at the West Memphis Civic Auditorium.
T.L. Gathen, a business applications advisor at FedEx and president of Majestic Kingdom Melodies (MKM) Productions, wrote “From a Mess to a Miracle.” It follows A.J. Clarkesdale (Jarvis Taylor), who returns home after hitting rock bottom, hoping to be welcomed back into his father’s house and TV station.  However, his stepmother, Gertrude Clarkesdale (Jennifer Gomez), is not happy about him interrupting the life she and her son, Reggie (Malik Walker), have with A.J.’ s father, Andrew (Rodney Burns), and A.J. has to move in with his church-going Aunt Maxine (Joann Bell).  

A serving of comedy, with D. L. Hughley as the main course

all over_town
In full spectator mode, I showed up at the new Chuckles Comedy House in Cordova hungry for comedy and braced for long lines and lagged show times from a new business. My downside expectations were completely wrong.
The entire staff was on point. There was an ample wait crew, efficient cashiers and prompt show times. Serve up the comedy!

Reporter quits job following ‘fatherless’ young black men comments

reporter quits
A New York area TV reporter has quit his job following comments he made on-air about “fatherless” young black men.
News 12’s Sean Bergin was reporting a story on the murder of a Jersey City police officer when he decided to go off-script after his news package aired.
The officer, Melvin Santiago, was allegedly killed by Lawrence Campbell, who had previous drug arrests on his record.

A free charter high school for adults

Excel Center
Memphis Goodwill, Inc., has received approval to open a free public charter high school for adults called The Excel Center. 
In granting approval, the Shelby County School Board noted The Excel Center’s mission in adult learning and its track record of success.
The Excel Center will offer adult dropouts a second chance to return to high school and earn their high school diplomas. Memphis Goodwill plans to begin classes in Fall 2015.
The Excel Center charter school model was created in 2010 by the Goodwill of Central Indiana and has focused on helping adult students return to school to earn high school credits, as well as post-secondary credits and/or job certifications. In less than three years, Central Indiana’s Excel Center has evolved from one campus with 300 students to nine campuses with 3,000 students. More than 720 students have earned their high school diplomas.
“We are thrilled to have approval for The Excel Center to begin in Memphis, and we know it will be a life-changing opportunity for hundreds of Memphians,” said Memphis Goodwill President & CEO Tony Martini.
“We will be working with a wide range of community partners and Excel Center leaders in Central Indiana to launch this innovative high school in Fall 2015.”
Features of the Excel Center will include life coaches assigned to each student; a free on-site child drop-in center for students with children while they are in class; accelerated school terms and the chance to earn multiple credits; and a focus on each student’s “next steps,” whether that is postsecondary education or vocational training and certifications. 
In the west Tennessee and north Mississippi area, Goodwill employs more than 770 people, many of whom face significant barriers to employment.
(For more information, go to http://goodwillmemphis.org/excel-center.)