(Just as a neighborhood should not be judged by the actions of a few bad apples, neither should law enforcement agencies. The New Tri-State Defender' "Good Blue & You" column spotlights law enforcement officers who do it right. This week's focus is on Shelby County Deputy Charllai Wooten.)
No stranger to learning, Charllai Wooten graduated from Central High School (Class of 2000) and earned a criminal justice degree at the University of Memphis in 2008. True to her degree, she quickly found herself working for the Shelby County District Attorney's Office, where she learned even more while applying all that she knew for four-plus years.
The years spent studying and working in the field of criminal justice came in handy when she joined the Shelby County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) in 2013, landing on the Shelby County Schools "Rapid Response Unit." But before we get to that, let's pick up with Wooten the soldier, who was dispatched to Egypt seemingly in the blink of an eye.
Why, asked a reporter at a Friday press conference, did none of the African-American "leaders" recently interviewed by her news outlet not come down on Commissioner Henri Brooks for remarks made while challenging the award of a county roofing contract to a firm with no African-American roofers?
"We identify with what she is talking about," said the Rev. Dr. L. LaSimba Gray, the Memphis head of Rainbow PUSH, one of three groups and several ministers who called the conference at Cane Creek Baptist Church.
"During the civil rights movement we didn't all agree with Malcolm X, but we didn't challenge Malcolm X because Malcolm X spoke truth to what we were living with every day. And what Henri Brooks was speaking to is what we live with every day," said Gray.
The attachment handed out at a Friday press conference at Cane Creek Baptist Church had this header: "Direct Quotes of Mr. Andrew Clarksenior Appearance on WHBQ.TV Tuesday night 5/13/14."
The press conference featured representatives of Rainbow PUSH, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Action Network and "concerned ministers." It was a forum to issue a twin call for balance and fairness. One target was the awarding of contracts in Shelby County.
The other target was the media, particularly the handling of the story involving Commissioner Henri Brooks, who some want to resign in the wake of remarks she made at the Shelby County Election Commission on Monday. Brooks challenged the award of a roofing contract to a firm that employs 25 roofers who are Hispanic and no African Americans. Her manner of doing so is now a matter of ongoing controversy.
Church's Chicken manager Daniel May seemed pleased with the turnout and what he viewed as the unity that existed among participants in a Memphis reflection of widespread strikes and protests at fast-food restaurants on Thursday.
"It's like this very positive vibe-to know that you're fighting for justice, and you're in that fight together. You have a special camaraderie with that person."
Memphis fast food workers walked off their jobs to campaign for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. Organizers say the move part of a "wave of strikes and protests" in 150 cities across the U.S. and 33 additional countries on six continents.
Operating on a shoestring budget, the 34th Spring Seminar of Mission Possible: Christian Outreach Service Mission (COSM) is one its participants will long remember.
Philanthropist and founder Thelma Nelms was inspired to take this year's conference (April 25th -26th) to historic Birmingham, Ala. It proved a rewarding decision, followed by a weekend of successive "miracles."
Beginning with the kick-off at the historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, seminar attendees settled in for a moving opening ceremony in the church fellowship hall. It was there on Sunday, Sept. 15, 1963 at 10:22 a.m. that the church became known around the world when a bomb exploded killing four young girls and injuring more than 20 others attending Sunday School.