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Brooks on Brooks! Part I

henri brooks_600If the Shelby County Commission chamber had been a classroom and Commissioner Henri Brooks had been Pablo Pereyra's teacher, the admonishment that she directed at the real estate agent during a May 12th Commission meeting likely would not have caused such a firestorm.

But that was not the scenario that played out. Brooks' upbraiding of Pereyra was a key element in a scene that set off a chain reaction, including calls for Brooks' resignation, an apology from her, or a resolution of censure from the Commission.

During a meeting Tuesday afternoon with the editorial staff of The New Tri-State Defender, Brooks moved to put the swirling controversy in what she considers the correct context.

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The new four-letter word – RACE

mrsmith 600For years I subscribed to the notion of "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt!" It was a mantra that helped a young boy cope with name calling and "check sessions," so that even as you were getting talked about or "checked" you were cool as a cucumber – as long as the person didn't put their hands (or feet) on you.

As I grew into adulthood, I had many a lesson that disproved that notion. And certainly over the past several weeks, we've all been schooled in the power of words and the repercussions of choosing them poorly.

Against the national backdrop of the Donald Sterling saga, we had two unscripted local monologues captured on camera for continuous replay, consideration and deliberation; the first by Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks and the second by my Fox 13 "Insider" counterpart, Andrew Clarksenior. I'll deal with the latter first, as I was directly a part of the discussion with Clarksenior, and the first to check him on his comments.

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Town Hall seeks citizen input for Whitehaven improvements

whitehaven 600City Councilman Edmund Ford Jr. and Memphis Housing and Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb are convening a Whitehaven-area town hall meeting next Thursday (May 29th) that Ford said is designed to get residents engaged in creating improvements or expansions for their community.

The session will be held at Whitehaven Community Center at 4318 Graceland Dr. on the same block as Hillcrest High School. It is set for 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

"We always hear criticism when the city invests in public-private improvements. So what we want to do first is find out what Whitehaven residents feel the area needs, and then show them how to make it happen," Ford said.

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‘Christen, don’t give up!…’

christian 600Katherine Williams drew in a deep breath and exhaled following a morning salute to graduating seniors at Craigmont High School. One of the graduates – her son, Christen Walker Dukes – weighed only two pounds at birth, was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, and wasn't expected to live.

The grim report that Williams had received from the doctors at Methodist University Hospital 18 years ago was superseded by her son's dogged determination to survive and overcome the malady that threatened his life.

"He was a preemie at birth and underdeveloped," said Williams, who birthed her son after a 24-week gestation period. "He was born on a Thursday, around 3 p.m., and the doctors said he wouldn't live throughout the night."

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Win in Toastmaster’s competition lands local pastor a trip to Malaysia

Eric Ovid_Donaldson_600"When my name was called, it seemed so surreal," the Rev. Eric Ovid Donaldson, senior minister at Unity Christian Church in Whitehaven, recalled after winning Toastmasters International's District 43 International Speech Contest held recently in Tupelo, Miss.

"At one moment, I was supporting our Unity Toastmasters Club, and in the next moment, I'm being invited halfway around the world to compete in the semi-finals at the World Championship of Public Speaking."

Thousands of Toastmasters from around the world will be traveling to this year's International Convention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to watch The World Championship of Public Speaking.

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