Grant funds available for Uptown commercial, historic rehabilitation

Grant funds available for Uptown commercial, historic rehabilitation

The rehabilitation of existing commercial and historic structures is an integral part of the elimination and prevention of slum and blight. Grant funds are available to rehabilitate existing commercial and historic properties within a designated zone.

The designated zone is bounded by Chelsea, Manassas, A.W. Willis and N Main. North Memphis Community Development Corporation is hosting a public meeting to discuss the grant application and to solicit comments.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m., on Dec. 22 at the Uptown Square Apartments, 252 N. Lauderdale. The meeting is not mandatory, but prospective applicants are encouraged to attend.

If you would like assistance from the program staff in preparing an application, notify Tanja Mitchell, Uptown Neighborhood Coordinator, by calling 901-907-0035 or by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than Dec. 30.

Applications are due on Jan. 6.

In need of clarity, schools transition group awaits state commissioner’s visit

In need of clarity, schools transition group awaits state commissioner’s visit

by Tarrin McGhee
Special to Tri-State Defender

Kevin Huffman, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education, is visiting Memphis this week to provide an update on initiatives to improve education locally and across the state of Tennessee.

 Kevin Huffman

On Thursday (Dec. 1), Huffman will address questions from the Transition Planning Commission at their December meeting regarding the planned merger of Memphis and Shelby County Schools.  

The 21-member Transition Planning Commission is the government body made responsible for developing a plan to consolidate the two public school systems by the start of the 2013 school year. The commission was crafted to take on that role after a countywide referendum was passed earlier this year by Memphis voters in favor of a unified school district.

Members of the Transition Planning Commission are working to complete and submit the merger plan for approval from local and state education officials by September 2012. Individually, each member serves on one of seven committees that have been established for operations: Administrative, Educational/Academic Services/Plan, Communications, Finance and HR/Personnel .

In an update provided for members of the Shelby County Unified School Board at a meeting held on Tuesday night, Transition Planning Commission Chairwoman Barbara Prescott said Huffman is expected to bring clarity to several complex issues related to the planning process in an effort to streamline progress.  

“Our committees have been working to address particular items…and there are a lot of things that are not absolutely spelled out,” Prescott said. “We are looking forward to discussing these things with him.”

Huffman, executive vice president of Public Affairs for Teach for America, was appointed as Tennessee’s Education Commissioner in March by Gov. Bill Haslam following a nationwide search to fill the position in state government.

The Shelby County Transition Planning Commission meeting will be held at the Office of Construction Code Enforcement located at 6465 Mullins Station Rd and is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. The meeting is open the public.

Childhood obesity draws bull’s-eye of NUL and partners

Childhood obesity draws bull’s-eye of NUL and partners

WASHINGTON – The National Urban League on Tuesday (Nov. 29) announced its partnership with leading out-of-school-time organizations to unify principles for nutrition and physical activity.

The announcement came during the Partnership for a Healthier America’s Building a Healthier Future Summit.

In addition to the National Urban League, the Healthy Kids Out of School initiative is a collaboration between the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, the National Council of La Raza, the National Council of Youth Sports, Pop Warner, US Youth Soccer, the YMCA of the USA, and 4-H.

The leaders of the organizations, convened by ChildObesity180, developed universal nutrition and physical activity principles from a broad list of evidenced-based recommendations for combating childhood obesity – marking the first time leaders from the groups have worked together toward a common goal.

“Healthy Kids Out of School represents a groundbreaking collaboration of major youth-focused groups in a new and strategic effort,” said Peter Dolan, chairman ofChildObesity180. “These organizations are demonstrating the essential leadership and cooperation necessary to counter the childhood obesity epidemic and to meaningfully improve the health and well-being of the tens of millions children who participate in their programs.”

Many children in communities of color are more likely to be obese and live in unsafe communities where there are few opportunities for physical activity and limited access to healthy food, said National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial.

“Now, by adopting these three principles in after-school programs and as a part of out-of-school time activities, we are coming together to offer our children practical, smart, cost-effective measures for a lifetime of lessons about healthy food choices and physical activity.”

A significant percentage of school-aged children in the U.S. are enrolled in out-of-school-time activities, including a large number of rural, urban, and low-income children who are particularly vulnerable to the poor health outcomes linked to childhood obesity. However, there has been variability in the quality of foods and beverages served and opportunities for physical activity offered to children participating in out-of-school-time programs.

Recognizing this opportunity for action, leaders from the nine ChildObesity180-affiliated organizations identified and agreed upon three sustainable, actionable principles that are sufficiently flexible for adaptation to local environments and cultures. They are:

Drink Right: Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Move More: Boost movement and physical activity in all programs.

Snack Smart:  Fuel up on fruits and vegetables.

“Aligning these nine organizations with unifying principles ensures that the tens of millions of children who participate in out-of-school programs are consistently encouraged to eat and drink healthfully and to be active, regardless of where they spend their time out of school,” said Dr. Christina D. Economos, associate professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and director of ChildObesity180.

Memphis legend takes ‘Taxi’ to soul heaven

J. Blackfoot: We will remember

Facebook pages and blogs lit up all over the city of Memphis as the news spread Wednesday (Nov. 30) that the Memphis Soul Legend we all know as “J. Blackfoot” had taken the “Taxi” to soul heaven.

 J. Blackfoot
 J. Blackfoot stirred a blast of blues energy at the 6th Annual Memphis Tri-State Blues Festival at the DeSoto Civic Center in 2008. (Photo by Warren Roseborough)

Born John Colbert in 1946 in Greenville, Miss., he acquired the nickname “Blackfoot” as a child for his habit of walking barefoot on the tarred sidewalks. After a long battle with cancer, he died at the age of 65.

“J Blackfoot was one of the greatest singers that ever lived,” said legendary bluesman Bobby Rush. “He did not do a lot of movement on stage, but the energy in his voice was amazing. Whether singing blues or R&B, you could feel his spirit in his tone and heart.”

Blackfoot’s impact on Soul Music is tremendous.

Did you know that after the plane crash claimed the lives of four members of the original Bar-Kays, for a little less than a year, J. Blackfoot joined the re-created group as the lead singer?

Then there were the Soul Children years from 1968 to 1978. This was a project that Isaac Hayes and David Porter created after the Stax Label lost “Sam & Dave” to Atlantic Records. The Soul Childen – Blackfoot, along with Norman West, Shelbra Bennett and Anita Lewis – recorded 15 charted R&B hits in a 10-year span, with such hits as “I’ll Understand,” “The Sweeter He Is,” and “Tighten Up My Thang.”

In 1983, came the huge hit “Taxi,” which was originally written for Johnny Taylor. The song not only hit the charts in the United States, but in the U.K, eventually crossing over into Billboard’s Hot 100.

Months ago at a tribute event put on by 103.5 radio personality Jackson Brown, Blackfoot was the honoree. During a performance by headliner Michael Cooper of the group Confunkshun, Cooper told a little story that a lot of people had not heard. Confunkshun, he said, started as a backup group for the Soul Children under the name “Project Soul.”

And with a heartfelt tone, Cooper said, “There would be no “Love’s Train,” no “My Baby’s House” no “Confunkshun” without J. Blackfoot.”

Rush said Blackfoot was “a spiritual man.”

“Losing him has left a void, but I know he’s in a better place. I would like to say to his family, keep your head up,” Rush said.

“I will always remember that J always had a smiling hello when you met him and a smiling goodbye when you left. In fact, he would be the one to pull things together when things weren’t going right. He would say, ‘come guys, we are all brothers.’”

Rush last worked with Blackfoot at the Tri-State Blues Show and then in September at the Delta Blues Show. They were scheduled for a New Year’s Eve show.  

“J was kind, easy to work with and an all around gentleman,” said Rush. “I will miss my good friend.”

Funeral arrangements are still pending.

(This story includes contributions from Tri-State Defender staff.)

Illinois court frees Dwain Kyles of blame in fatal fire

Dwain Kyles, the son of Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, won a major legal victory Wednesday when the Illinois Appellate Court overturned his conviction in connection with the deaths of 21 people in a Chicago nightclub.


Soon to be open – again – after Horn Lake flap

Tedarral Muhammad was gratified after learning that the Horn Lake’s Board of Aldermen had voted to allow him to reopen his barbershop and auto detailing business that had been shut down after its first 30 days of operation.


<br />Real pain from real people as NBA rift hardens

With the NBA disturbingly close to canceling the entire season, the population teetering in harm’s way is the business owners and their employees who count on NBA patrons.


Tigers out the gate and kicking up a fuss

Basketball is alive and well in Memphis. The The University of Memphis basketball team's season started Tuesday with a 97-81 victory against the Belmont Bruins of Nashville.


‘Steppin’ with the Stars Showcase’ to aid children

The Black Rose Foundation for Children and Ujima Family Wellness Center have announced that their first annual signature event, “Steppin’ with the Stars Showcase,” will be held on Dec. 10.


‘In a league all of her own!’

Ruth Circle, a Christian Women’s Group at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, is mourning the lost of the group’s leader, Glendalin Ray Garrison.


41 & counting: MLK Invitational tourney still showcasing hoops

Tradition and change will be on display when Middle school and high school hoopsters square off during the 41st version of the Martin Luther King Invitational Basketball Tournament.


TSD kicks off 60th anniversary journey


Hosted by the New Tri-State Defender and MC’d by V101.1’s Stan “the Bellringer” Bell, the event started with a great musical montage by local Memphis band, Sidney Kirk and Friends.


Tea party serves mentoring lessons


The “Yes, You Can White Gloves Reception” was designed for “colored girls who did” to pass along “yes, you can” information.