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I know we don’t want to talk about this…but it’s time


“Child abusers were everywhere during my years in junior high and high school.”

Rodney Beard

“Child abusers were everywhere during my years in junior high and high school.”

When I was seven years old my best friend was RJ. His dad and mine were friends that worked on cars together, dragged raced them once a month and talked trash about the war a lot.  Dad was Air Force and RJ’s dad was an Army veteran, who had actually been wounded in battle.

RJ and I did everything together back then – shooting marbles, swinging on the Tarzan vine down in the woods, playing cowboys and Indians – but the highlight of our relationship was riding our bicycles all over the neighborhood. RJ was two years older and I followed him on my bike far beyond the approval bounds of our parents. I went with RJ to places that I never would have on my own.

One day all of that changed when RJ came to my door to tell me to meet him one house down at the home of a family that was much like mine. They had four boys all relatively in the same age group as my older brothers. From house to house in the neighborhood that I was raised in, we were like family and the closer the proximity, the closer the bond.

Released by my mother after chores, I went where RJ directed me, knocking on the open door of my neighbor’s house. I did not get an answer but I could hear music playing. As was our custom back in the ‘50’s, I proceeded in while calling out to our neighbor. What I found upon entry was the second oldest son, Jack Jr., coming down the hallway (which I had started down) with absolutely no clothes on, and I could see RJ standing behind in the same manner and state of undress.

Instinctively, because my brothers did not behave that way ever, I turned to leave and Jack Jr. grabbed my arm and dragged me into the bedroom then proceeded to pull down my short pants and underwear. I don’t why I fought so hard and resisted so violently, but I did and got away. Even though Jack Jr. could not rape me, I was still molested, get it?

I was seven years old being accosted by a pedophile. I didn’t know anything about sex or violence, but somehow I knew that wasn’t right.

I lived in a home full of love, nurture, respect, kindness and – above all – a family that was about God and here I was being attacked by a pervert. I shouldn’t have even known what that was. I was completely terrified and shouldn’t have known emotions like that. I was shamed and violated so much so that I couldn’t tell anyone, ever, until I was an adult in therapy. I never brought it up with RJ again because that relationship became tenuous at best and never one that I trusted (along with anyone else).

At seven years old, this incident opened my eyes from then on. I came to realize that the guy next door was a pedophile when I saw RJ going into his house, the one house that my parents and brothers told me and my sister to never go into for any reason.

Child abusers were everywhere during my years in junior high and high school. Beginning in the eighth grade, I learned of them among teachers, band directors, coaches, principals, down-lows, music instructors and even ministers and other authority. Sound familiar?

We gossiped about it. Some blamed the children for being “just fast girls” who were asking for it, but most of these kids had no family foundation and were prey for predators. We wouldn’t talk about it. (We had to protect our professionals in the sixties from scandal and innuendo.) We couldn’t be honest, make them accountable or judge them because we had to keep them on the pedestals we put them on. So we didn’t do anything, which is what we are doing right now, nothing to protect our kids and women.

I got away but not RJ. Running from that scene, I remember Jack Jr. closing the door with RJ standing there…trapped.

I know we don’t want to talk about this. But we have to, and do it right now. So, I just told my story. Tell me yours. Let’s start talking about it.

Enough is enough. Tell me what you think.

(The Rev. Rodney Beard is pastor of The Living Word Community Church in Nashville and president of The National Action Network for Greater Nashville. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

  • Written by Rodney Beard
  • Category: Original

Roundup: News briefs


5 W.Va., Ky., Tenn. counties off drug areas list

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Five counties in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee have been removed from a federal list of high-traffic drug areas.
A Federal Register notice filed Monday says a threat assessment indicated the counties no longer met criteria for high-trafficking drug areas.
The notice says Mason County in West Virginia, Cumberland and Clinton counties in Kentucky, and Clay and White counties in Tennessee have been removed from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program list.
The program makes federal resources available to local and state police that face growing illicit drug markets. It was established through the Office of National Drug Control Policy in 1988.
An Appalachia list was established in 1998 to combat trafficking in 68 Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia counties.

Say NO to the four, but wine is fine!


Among the most important ballot items for the upcoming November 4, 2014 election are four proposed constitutional amendments. In addition, you will also have an opportunity to help decide if wine will ultimately be sold in retail outlets (grocery stores and similar outlets) other than liquor stores.

The constitutional amendments will serve to – in some instances – greatly expand the power and reach of government and particularly the Tennessee General Assembly. Any amendments to the law of the land, the constitution, represent significant implications to the enforcement, interpretation, implementation and carrying out of the law. The proposed amendments individually and collectively represent an unnecessary and potentially dangerous expansion of government power. As proposed, the amendments usurp power from the people (voters) and put it in the hands of the legislative body.

‘Say yes to seafood’ for better health


When Linda Cornish helped lay the foundation for the Memphis Farmers Market back in 2006, she, along with other Memphians, wanted to see a thriving and vibrant connection established between local farmers and consumers. The downtown entity has helped Mid-South shoppers purchase fruits and vegetables fresh off the farm at great prices.

Although Cornish never dreamed she would take the helm of the Washington-based initiative, Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP), the move seems a natural next step for her.

  • Written by Dr. Sybill C. Mitchell
  • Category: Original

Kroger teen mob trial: The view from the bench

judge michael

Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael says he cannot – and will not – allow public sentiment to influence his rulings as he considers the cases of teen offenders, including those accused of mob-like action.

Michaels’s viewpoint moved to the forefront this week (Tuesday, Oct. 14th) as court proceedings began in the prosecution of 10 teens charged with attacking two Kroger employees and a would-be customer on the parking lot of the Kroger’s in the Poplar Plaza Shopping Center. The September incident became a YouTube sensation, as one teen in a lime green T-shirt was shown repeatedly stomping a victim on the ground.

  • Written by Tony Jones
  • Category: Original

Mayors report progress in support of Obama’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ thrust

My Brother's Keeper

Back in February when President Barack Obama took the wraps off of the administration’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative he made it clear that he would be looking to “build a broad coalition of backers.”

Mayors of U.S. Cities were envisioned as key coalition members in the effort to arrest the slide and nurture the growth of boys and young men of color – a segment of the country described as too often facing “disproportionate challenges and obstacles to success.” This week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors released the findings of a survey on mayors’ efforts to promote and implement the goals the president set out.


‘I am here for you guys’

Patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on Wednesday sat in three small groups in the Activity Room to participate in a creative release that is a part of patient therapy. Like little Picassos at work, they drew, decorated and sketched on large foam letters – fully engaged with finishing and producing their artwork. 
Around 5:30 p.m., 13-year-old Courtney skipped into the room, leading the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. The kids and parents suddenly lit the room with cheers and applause, welcoming the First Lady in pure Memphis style. 

Battling domestic violence

Domestic Violence

The news of Sept. 2nd hit Gwendolyn Turner like a ton of bricks. Tasha Thomas, a woman she knew, had been shot and killed outside the University of Little Scholars daycare in Whitehaven. Thomas’ estranged husband had instigated the deadly encounter on the parking lot where Thomas worked.

 “I was breathless and speechless to learn that another woman had become a victim of domestic violence,” said Turner, who’d suffered verbal, emotional, mental, sexual and physical abuse off and on for nearly 20 years.

  • Written by Wiley Henry
  • Category: Original