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THE CITY MAGAZINE
VOL XLIII NO 1 | A P R I L 2 018
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
mason temple, april 3, 1968
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VOL XLIII NO 1 | APRIL 2018
Memphis • THE CITY MAGAZINE • W W W.MEMPHISMAGAZINE.COM
MLK50 C O M M E M O R A T I V E
THE CITY MAGAZINE
VOL XLIII NO 1 | A P R I L 2 018
22 Prison Cells, Petri Dishes, and a Path Forward Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
mason temple, april 3, 1968
on the cover Martin Luther King Jr., Mason Temple, April 3, 1968
With Project MI, Demetria Frank addresses the cycle of mass incarceration that has made America the world’s foremost jailer. ~ by anna traverse
DISPLAY UNTIL MAY 10, 2018
3/15/18 2:56 PM
35 Can I Get a Witness?
In recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King’s continued influence, a group of prominent Memphians reflect upon the Civil Rights movement as it exists today.
72 31 Hours, 28 Minutes
Dr. Martin Luther King’s last hours in Memphis. ~ by michael finger
BLACK RESISTANCE: ERNEST C. WITHERS AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT AN EXHIBITION ON DISPLAY AT MEMPHIS BROOKS MUSEUM OF ART THROUGH AUGUST 19, 2018
83 local treasures Nancy Bogatin
On the front lines of the Civil Rights struggle for seven decades.
~ by cindy conner burnett
A featured designer in this year’s Art by Design showcase, Carmeon Hamilton finds inspiration everywhere. ~ by anne cunningham o’neill
see page 73
12 14 16 20 97
in the beginning city journal out and about books on the town
The Beauty in All Things
100 end game
Last call for the King of Beale Street. ~ by jesse davis
102 city dining 112
Tidbits: Pontotoc; plus the city’s most extensive dining listings. last stand If Not for Hope
The long struggle for Civil Rights is far from over. ~ by maya smith Memphis magazine wishes to thank an anonymous benefactor whose generosity allowed us to produce additional copies of this special commemorative issue for the National Civil Rights Museum and other educational institutions in the region.
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Memphis (ISSN 1622-820x) is published monthly for $15 per year by Contemporary Media, Inc., P.O. Box 1738, Memphis, TN 38101 © 2018. Telephone: 901-521-9000. For subscription info, please call 901-521-9000. Subscription customer service mailing address is Memphis magazine, P.O. Box 1738, Memphis, TN 38101. All rights reserved. • Periodicals Postage Paid at Memphis, TN. Postmasters: send address changes to Memphis, P.O. Box 1738, Memphis, TN 38101.
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Coming In June T OP DOC T ORS IS SUE Our widely read annual feature presents the area’s leading physicians as chosen by their peers.
a unique studio for kitchens, bath & home
Coming In July REmodel
Your 2018 Guide to Home Remodeling Tips & Trends Looking to update or completely remodel your kitchen, bath, outdoor living space, or even your entire home? Highly qualified Memphis-area builders, architects, designers, and more stand ready to help make your space modern, cozy, and more functional. On the following pages, we feature two such projects — along with before-and-after photos — and talk with the happy homeowners whose dream homes have become reality with the help of local professionals. — by Shara Clark
a special supplement to
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Memphis magazine and the Remodelers Council of the West Tennessee Home Builders Association have collaborated to produce before-and-after images and the inside story of leading local remodeling projects.
Coming In August CIT Y GUIDE
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ALL ABOUT ELVIS | WHO’S WHO & WHAT TO DO | TOP 50 RESTAURANTS
THE CITY MAGAZINE
The most comprehensive guide to living in the Memphis area. Featuring our annual “Who’s Who” profiles.
VOL XLII NO 5 | AUGUST 2017
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V E S TA HOME SHOW GUIDE The official guide to the 2018 Vesta Home show features renderings, floor plans, suppliers, and builder information.
Our in-depth guide to local colleges and universities.
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Memphis THE C IT Y MAGAZ INE
General Excellence Grand Award Winner City and Regional Magazine Association 2007, 2008, 2010, 2014
PUBLISHER/EDITOR kenneth neill EXECUTIVE EDITOR michael finger MANAGING EDITOR frank murtaugh SENIOR EDITOR shara clark ASSOCIATE EDITOR samuel x. cicci ARTS & LIFESTYLE EDITOR anne cunningham o’neill FOOD EDITOR pamela denney CONTRIBUTING EDITORS jackson baker,
john branston, cindy conner burnett, jesse davis, michael donahue, christine arpe gang, vance lauderdale, maya smith, jon w. sparks, anna traverse EDITORIAL INTERN julia baker
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michael donahue, karen pulfer focht, ziggy mack ILLUSTRATION chris honeysuckle ellis
SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES joy bateman,
sloane patteson taylor
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE jacob woloshin ADVERTISING ASSISTANT ruth mclain
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As we mark the 50th anniversary of his tragic death, we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s warnings against silence. He knew the danger of complacency. He warned of the perils of indifference. So on April 4th America will be anything but silent – tolling bells from churches and universities as a sign of unity – and we will continue into the future as voices for justice. Where do we go from here?
3/15/18 6:59 PM
IN THE BEGINNING
Holding Onto Hope Remembering the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, 50 years later.
by larry conley
t’s the photo that I remember the most. That haunts me. The stark, black-and-white image shows people standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel pointing in the direction from which the shot came, the shot that felled the dreamer. Martin Luther King Jr., who dreamed of a color-blind nation, lay dying at their feet. It was April 4, 1968. The dreamer was dead and the nation wondered if his dream died with him. My life, in an eerie way, seems connected with King’s death. In 1968 I was a black teenager living in Memphis when King was killed here. Fifty years later, I’m living out my retirement in Atlanta, where King is buried. I spend my days now volunteering for a charity that grew out of a church congregation that provided housing and meals for visitors during King’s funeral. Had he lived, King would see a nation still struggling to come to grips with his dream. On one hand, progress is unmistakable. My youngest brother, for example, was born just three days after King’s death. Now, 50 years later, he is the embodiment of King’s dream. He lives with his family in a prosperous Memphis suburb — manicured lawns, two-car garages, over-priced lattes, the works. Yet, when I was in Memphis recently, I was stopped by a white policeman near my brother’s home one night. I made sure to keep my hands in sight. And I asked for permission before retrieving my driver’s license. Philando Castile, killed by a policeman while reaching for his own license, wasn’t so lucky. On another front, I take it as a sign of progress that Memphis, an overwhelmingly black city, now has both a white mayor and a white congressman. To be successful — and to keep their
jobs — Jim Strickland and Steve Cohen must answer to all their constituents, black and white. Anyone living in Memphis in 1968, when Henry Loeb was mayor, knows that this wasn’t always true. Loeb’s intransigence against striking black garbage workers helped lead to King’s fatal trip to Memphis. Yet, Strickland and Cohen’s black constituents today fare far worse than their white counterparts. According to the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Atlas, the median household income for blacks in Memphis, $30,300, is barely half that of whites, $52,500. Fifty years after King, while elections may occasionally belie the color line, money apparently still doesn’t. Widening the focus to all of Shelby County, the picture is just as bleak. According to a report recently released by the National Civil Rights Museum and the University of Memphis, African Americans lag behind whites in Shelby County in virtually every measure. In 2016, median household income for whites in the county was $70,000, compared to $36,000 for African A mericans. Overall, 8 percent of white county residents live in poverty, compared to 29 percent for African Americans. And a stunning 48.3 percent of African-American children in Shelby County live in poverty; for white children, the percentage is 11.4. On the national level, it’s the
same dilemma: Is the glass half full or half empty? I wept in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected the first black president, a historic moment that I wouldn’t have dreamed of in 1968. The nation, it seemed, had turned a corner on the road to King’s dream of a color-blind society. Then came Donald Trump. It’s inexplicable to me how a nation that twice elected a black president could turn around and elect a man whose first political act was to front a vile, racist lie. Trump pedaled the
Kenya birther lie before he ran for president and initially held onto it even after he announced his candidacy. This lie, portraying the first black president as “The Other” — alien, illegitimate — should have automatically disqualified Trump from holding any office, let alone the highest office in the land. Yet millions of voters, my fellow Americans, simply shrugged. What am I, a black man, to make of this? How can I reconcile such an unconscionable betrayal with any notion of King’s dream?
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left: A Life magazine photographer captured the chaotic moments following the shooting. As King lay dying on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, his associates pointed across the street to where they thought the fatal shot had been ﬁred.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOSEPH LOUW / GETT Y IMAGES
they sat in church). Despite all of them and all of it, I choose to believe. That most Americans want to make a country worthy of King’s sacrifice, and that the good people in this country will win out in the end. And that Dr. King was right. In making this choice, I know I’m taking a chance. It’s the same chance that Martin Luther King took — hunted down and eventually murdered by white hatred — when he unfailingly challenged America to live up to its proclaimed ideals. Taking this chance, I feel like a man venturing into a dark tunnel knowing there might be a bear waiting at the end — fearful, but holding onto hope. It reminds me of the ending of an old film noir, Detective Story (1951). A grizzled cop (William Bendix) chooses, against the odds, to give a repentant thief a second chance. As he releases the young man, the cop issues a stern warning, the same plea I make, desperately, to all my countrymen: “Don’t make a monkey outta me.”
Faced with such contradictions, both in Memphis and the nation, my first reaction was to throw up my hands, to give up. To hell with it, I thought. King’s dream is just that, an impossible dream never to be fulfilled. But then something strange happened. As I was preparing to write this essay I was also reading the latest book by a young black author whose skill as a writer I greatly admire. The book is a collection of articles and essays about race/race relations written during the eight years of the Obama administra-
tion. It is full of the fire and uncompromising condemnation of white America for which this author is well-known. I could barely finish the book. It was just too much — too harsh, too negative, too hopeless. Mind you, there was a time when I was much like this young writer. I shared his outrage, his cynicism, his contempt. And I wasn’t shy about it. In various venues, including several pieces published in this magazine, I railed at white injustice. So what happened? Sure, maybe I’ve just grown old, no lon-
ger capable of sustaining the passion of righteous youth. But what I really think is that I simply don’t want to be that person anymore. At my age, shouting “J’accuse!” into the wind seems empty, hollow. I want something more; I want hope. So I’ve made a decision. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I choose to believe. Despite Trayvon Martin (murdered by a white vigilante) and Walter Scott (murdered by a white policeman) and Dylann Roof (a white supremacist who murdered nine black people as
A Memphis native and a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Columbia University School of Journalism, Larry Conley returned home in 1976 to work at The Commercial Appeal. In 1985, he became editor of Memphis magazine, the first African American in the country to serve as the editor of a city magazine. Conley moved to the Detroit Free Press in 1990, and joined the staff of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1993, where he worked for more than 15 years in a variety of editorial and supervisory positions. He still resides in Atlanta, where he is actively involved with adult literacy programs in that city.
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Better Together We will never get over the trauma of 1968, but we must get through it. As one.
Bob Loeb at Overton Square
was the third of the nine children born to Bill and Mimi Loeb. She was an Irish Catholic; he was a Jew of German descent. In 1936, my dad caught polio, at age 13, and lost the use of his legs. His own father died a few years later.
Dad didn’t get along with a lot of people, including his only sibling, older brother Henry Loeb, who became mayor of Memphis in 1960 and would go on to become one of the most controversial figures in Memphis history. Before that, the two brothers had gone to work at the laundry business that their grandfather founded, making it a third-generation family business. But Henry and Bill Loeb went separate ways. Henry got into politics, and Dad ran the Loeb laundry and barbecue businesses. My own parents were socially progressive, and taught us not to discriminate by race, gender, religion or creed. Dad was sympathetic to the racial justice movement of the 1960s and had African-American business partners — owners of Loeb’s Bar-B-Q franchises — when
very few white businessmen in Memphis had such contacts. When she wasn’t caring for her nine children, my mother Mimi, a graduate of Memphis College of Art, was very active in the local arts community, as well as a pioneer of health and fitness in the Memphis area. I was 13 in 1968, when Dad’s businesses were firebombed and boycotted in the civil unrest that followed Dr. King’s assassination, largely on account of how people confused Bill Loeb with his brother Henry, the mayor. Within five years the Loeb businesses were insolvent, and within 10 years most were closed. Dad went into the convenience store business. He had 9 kids to raise. I went to college in Dallas and planned to stay there. The economy there was a lot more vibrant, and there were a lot
of opportunities. But I always missed my hometown, and ultimately chose Memphis, and went to work with Dad and my brother Lou, making ours the fourth generation in a family business. By then, Dad’s stores were not profitable, so we morphed again, this time into a real estate company. Frankly, we have accomplished relatively little since the founding of our company 131 years ago, but thankfully, we’ve done well enough to stay employed. Today, our real estate business is non-traditional. It is as much art as commerce, which I know would make Mom proud. For the most part we buy older buildings and fix them up. To be sustainable our work must be profitable. We choose projects that other commercial real estate companies won’t touch. We collaborate with others who share our passion about Memphis, building places where people want to be, showing off authentic Memphis culture. In our business, this is called “placemaking.”
My wife and I have five children in our merged family. Our three adult children live out of town. We plan to work the rest of our lives making Memphis a better place, a place where our children might want to come and raise their own families. Should any of them choose to work with me, they would be the fifth generation in a family business. Maybe they will focus on commerce over art. I’m often humored by the whim of the decision process. I look at my life and career and choices, and laugh, wondering why. If we only knew the future, it would be so much easier to make decisions. Begin with the end in mind? Sure. Memphis and Memphians have suffered in many ways since 1968. I thank God for our successes. We have a long way to go; we are human and always will. We hope to make good decisions. I believe that the human spirit is regenerative. God made us that way, in His image. We will never get over the trauma of 1968, but we must get through it. Together. I love this city and its people, blemishes and all. They inspire me to get out of bed in the morning. Like my father, I am sometimes confused with others who share the Loeb family name. I imagine most people can relate to similar situations with members of their own family trees. I can’t right my relatives’ wrongs. I just play the hand that was dealt to me, making the best choices I can. I choose to be in Memphis, and I’m grateful to be a Memphian. And I believe that the best is yet to come, for all of us. Bob Loeb is president of Loeb Properties, a real-estate development company that has been responsible for the redevelopment of Overton Square and the Highland Strip.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRANDON DILL
by bob loeb
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compiled by julia baker
Down to Earth Festival
The City Where We Once Lived Book Signing
4.27 Black Violin
PHOTOGRAPH BY COLIN BRENNAN
il B. and Kev Marcus of the popular string duo Black Violin bring their multigenre sound with classical and hip-hop influences, otherwise known as “classical boom,” to the Orpheum. The Orpheum Theater, 203 S. Main Street, orpheum-memphis.com
Art in the Loop, Memphis’ newest art festival, features talented artists working with wood, glass, metal, clay, ﬁber, jewelry, paintings, photography, and more. Local youth ensembles will perform swing and jazz, and food truck fare will be available for purchase. Briarcrest Avenue & Ridgebend Road artintheloop.org
Shelby Farms celebrates Earth Day with festivities covering live local music, activities for kids and adults alike, eco-friendly vendors, and local food options. Shelby Farms Park, 6903 Great View Drive North shelbyfarmspark.org
Art in the Loop
Art in the Loop
Down to Earth Festival Memphis Redbirds vs. Omaha Storm Chasers and Iowa Cubs
Kick It 5K
The Kosten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research is hosting the 8th annual Kick It 5K, an event at Shelby Farms that includes a 5k run, 1-mile fun walk, opportunities for spirit runners, survivor ceremony, entertainment, and food vendors. Shelby Farms Park, 6903 Great View Drive North kostenfoundation.com
The reigning Paciﬁc Coast League champions Memphis Redbirds return to AutoZone Park with a seven-game homestand against the Omaha Storm Chasers and the Iowa Cubs. PCL Manager of the Year Stubby Clapp returns to call the shots from the dugout.
AutoZone Park, 200 Union Avenue memphisredbirds.com
Memphis Fashion Week
Memphis Fashion Week hosts a week-long lineup of events that include trunk shows, inﬂuencer lunches, designer talks, and runway shows at various locations throughout the city. Various Locations memphisfashionweek.org
Kick It 5K
Eric Barnes, publisher of the Memphis Daily News, hosts a book signing and reading for his new novel, The City Where We Once Lived. Crosstown Concourse, 1350 Concourse Avenue
To beneﬁt Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, the 9th annual Memphis Brewfest will feature American craft beers and other exotic beers from around the world. The Hugh Mitchell Band from Nashville will provide live entertainment. Liberty Bowl Stadium, 335 S. Hollywood Street memphisbrewfest.com
Lucero Family Block Party
Legendary local band Lucero celebrates its 20th anniversary, accompanied by special guests Turnpike Troubadours, Deertick, John Moreland, Louise Page, and Mighty Souls Brass Band. Special VIP BBQ Eat and Greet packages are available. Minglewood Hall, 1555 Madison Avenue minglewoodhall.com
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transformative diversity enduring commonality so our students bravely build bridges in a complex world April Plant Sales
For many Americans, April 15th brings little joy, only the deadline for ﬁling federal tax returns. But gardeners rejoice in the long-awaited, all-clear day when the threat of a spring frost is gone. The arrival of the Ides of April means it is safe to plant most ﬂowering annuals and virtually all perennials and shrubs. But before they can be installed in the ground, plants have to be purchased. This year gardeners can get it all done in one weekend, April 13-14, at the annual plant sales held at Memphis Botanic Garden and Lichterman Nature Center. Once again the Botanic Garden will offer what has to be the region’s widest selection of plants, selected because they are almost guaranteed to thrive in our growing conditions. (Guarantees cannot be absolute, however, mainly due to failings of the gardener, not the plants.) The sale will include lots of wildﬂowers and other native plants, including about 50 hardy ferns, as a precursor to the Mid-South Native Plant Conference, which will be presented by members of the Memphis Horticultural Society October 26-27. The sale will also move to a new venue, from the pine grove on the east side of the main parking area where it has been in the past to an expanded nursery area adjacent to the Rick Pudwell Horiculture Center at the south end. Gardeners can shop from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 13th and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 14th. Among the offerings will be hundreds of perennials for shady or sunny conditions as well as herbs, ornamental grasses, ground covers, and shrubs — most of them nurtured to maturity by volunteers working in greenhouses at the botanic garden. Memphis area master gardeners and volunteers from various plant societies, along with nursery manager Jim Crowder and other horticulture pros on the Botanic Garden’s staff, will be on hand to answer questions about the selection and cultivation of plants. Native plants are always a focus at the annual sale at Lichterman Nature Center, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 13th and from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 14th. The half-price sale goes from 2 to 4 p.m. April 14th. Thousands of plants, many of them difﬁcult to ﬁnd at commercial nurseries and representing more than 200 varieties, will be offered. Admission to both sales is free.
At St. George’s, students come from many walks of life, every religious tradition, all races, and nearly 50 zip codes because we believe our classrooms should reflect the realities of our city. The bridges built at St. George’s result in a genuinely transformative diversity. Our students change, inform, and enrich the experiences of their peers and, together, build a community that celebrates difference and recognizes commonality.
ST. GEORGE’S INDEPENDENT SCHOOL
FACE OF ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ADR)
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offers different options to our divorcing clients, all of which help them achieve satisfactory resolution while avoiding the risk and cost of litigation. We are a boutique law firm specifically trained in negotiation, mediation, and collaborative law. Attorneys Sheree Hoffman and Jenna McDonald have an excellent track record of giving good advice, understanding client’s needs, and implementing creative solutions to troubleshoot and problem-solve rather than fight. Both attorneys have over 37 years of combined experience in the local Circuit, Chancery, and Juvenile courts. We are proud that most of our clients come from direct referrals. We handle all aspects of divorce, family law and juvenile law, including dependency and neglect issues and litigation, when necessary. Call Kim Wall to schedule your appointment today.
Hoffman Law and Mediation Office
Left to right: Kim Wall, Sheree Hoffman, and Jenna McDonald
7515 Corporate Centre Drive, Germantown, TN 38138 901.754.9994 • Sheree@HoffmanFamilyLaw.com HoffmanFamilyLaw.com A P R I L 2 0 1 8 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 17
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contin u ed from page 17
ART a new festival April 6 – 8
Paws 4 a Cause
Paws 4 a Cause is a massive pet adoption event sponsored by Memphis Veterinary Specialists, Animal Emergency Center, and ArtWorks Foundation. The event features several dogfriendly activities, including games, demonstrations, a pet artists’ market, puppy Paws 4 a Cause treats, and a celebrity pet wash. Saddle Creek, 7615 West Farmington shopsofsaddlecreek.com
Memphis Flyer Bacon and Bourbon Fest
Our sister publication, Memphis Flyer, celebrates two Southern staples: pork and bourbon. Ticket price includes 15 bourbon tastings, pork dishes from various local restaurants, music, and party activities. Proceeds beneﬁt Memphis Farmers Market. Memphis Farmers Market, 567 S. Front Street memphisbaconandbourbon.com
ART • Food • ART • Music • ART!
Ridgeway Loop Road
between Briarcrest Avenue & Ridge Bend Rd.
www.artintheloop.org HOURS FR 1p - 7p SA 10a - 6p SU 11a - 4p presented by ArtWorks Foundation sponsored by THE CITY MAGAZINE
Bacon and Bourbon Fest
Southern Hot Wing Festival
The 16th annual Southern Hot Wing Festival, beneﬁting the Ronald McDonald House, brings the heat with hot wings, a hot wing eating contest, and live music. Tiger Lane, 335 S. Hollywood Street southernhotwingfestival.com
For the ﬁrst time in 40 years, all of the original members of Grammy Award-nominated instrumental rock band Dixie Dregs will take the stage at the New Daisy on their Dawn of the Dregs tour. The New Daisy Theatre, 330 Beale Street ticketfly.com
The Vollintine and Evergreen neighborhood artwalk, in its seventh year of raising awareness for the V&E Greenline, will feature the work of artists from the Greater Memphis area, children’s activities, live music, food, and drink. V&E Greenline vegreenline.org
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Chocolatography In Chocolate Cities, Zandria F. Robinson and Marcus Anthony Hunter unfold a new American map.
by anna traverse
da B. Wells, in 1892, was fired from a teaching post with the Shelby County Schools. Her chief offense, in addition to a certain “prickliness”: encouraging black subscribers to the Memphis Free Speech to boycott white businesses and streetcars, and moreover to leave Memphis altogether for points west. Wells had moved to Memphis herself from Holly Springs, Mississippi — from the village to the city — hoping to find greater opportunity in the latter. Instead, “Memphis laid bare the realities of racism for poor and middle-class Black people alike,” Zandria F. Robinson and Marcus Anthony Hunter write in Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life (University of California Press, 2018). “The current maps” of the United States, Robinson and Hunter write, “are wrong.” Where the current maps fail, in the authors’ view, is in accounting for racial and ethnic inequities that organize the experiences of people of color, from Emancipation through the present. Census data offer clues into the migrations of black Americans. Tracing individual lives provides alternative rivers and ranges that have shaped lived experience — lived experiences often set in chocolate cities, the left-behind urban spaces occupied by black Americans following movement by white Americans in the postwar years to “vanilla suburbs.” When Wells left Holly Springs, it was for opportunity. When she left Memphis, it was for fear of violence (a white mob came for her after she had decamped for New York City). Next came Europe, before she eventually landed in Chicago. Wells’ “travels help us understand chocolate maps as a geography of Black people’s freedom strivings,” Robinson and Hunter posit, “illuminating the pathways they took in search of safety and a place to be Black and free.” Chocolate Cities centers on two premises: first, that black social life in America “is best understood as occurring wholly in ‘The
South’ — one large territory, governed by a historically rooted and politically inscribed set of practices of racial domination” — and second, that black migrants brought “The South” with them to urban centers across the country. Robinson and Hunter provide
several versions of what America’s consummate and complete Southernness might look like, mapped: The first reconfigured map in Chocolate Cities shows the Lower 48 rendered into six regions: instead of New England, the Midwest, the Northwest, and so on, we have Up South, Down South, Deep South, Mid South, Out South, and West South. In this rendering, everything below the Canadian border is one form of South or another — and this because of black Americans’ movements throughout the states following Emancipation. From plantations and rural Southern towns, to the closest Southern cities, to bigger Southern cities, and eventually to large urban areas in the Midwest and along the coasts, black A mericans brought their own culture and history as they moved about the country. If Chocolate Cities were itself made of chocolate, it would come in a variety of forms: the central theses of the book like unsweetened cacao nibs, true and deep-flavored, long-lasting, challenging, surprising. Census data as chocolate bar, scored into bite-size forms. Musical references like the aroma of chocolate, wafting through the room. And the personal stories Robinson and Hunter delve into are multi-layered, well-baked undertakings. The authors’ own family narratives ribbon their way through the book. A native Memphian, Robinson is a professor of sociology at Rhodes College, and Hunter is an associate professor of sociology at UCLA. They met when the two were doctoral candidates at Northwestern University outside Chicago. Their discoveries of “a fictive kinship of the highest order” brought their imaginations
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ZANDRIA ROBINSON PHOTOGRAPH BY COLE SHOTS / MARCUS ANTHONY HUNTER PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY MARCUS ANTHONY HUNTER
into a “dynamic collision … truly a straightRestricting black movement — whether outta-South Memphis meets straight-outtaby means of slave ships or “whites-only” signs South Philly synergy.” The more they debated — has been “essential to White supremaregions and music, and through music phicy,” but the authors point out, “Black people, losophy and sociology, the more Robinson chocolate city traveling folk, have nonetheless and Hunter came to see that “Philly was the pushed and moved and resisted.” Memphis of the North and Memphis the As the U.S. population becomes majorPhilly of the South. Or maybe,” they go on, ity-minority, the valence of these cultural “it was all just the South — up, down, left, exchanges has shifted — somewhat. The or right.” movements of persons and groups are The book itself migrates across a map less restricted than once they were. But from “the village” to “the soul” to “the powthe need for a publication like the “Green er” — from community, in other words, Book” — a black travel resource guide, proto culture, and finally to collective powviding black motorists with a list of where on the road to stop safely, restaurants and er. The authors demonstrate how black hotels to avoid prudently — is not so very life in America has been defined by constant movement, and far past. Stories of progsi mu lta neously how ress are not single-track: “Philly was the Memphis of the movement of black in San Jose, California, the North and Memphis the for instance, Robinson people across America Philly of the South. Or maybe, has defined the country and Hunter demonstrate, through “a patchwork though “money and edit was all just the South — up, of interconnected chocucation can do many down, left, or right.” things, protecting and olate cities.” We trace the chocolate paths of, insulating Black people among many others: Ida B. Wells. “The two from the harms and injuries of racism and glass ceilings is not one of them.” Ms. Johnsons,” both LGBT women, one in Chicago and the other in North Memphis. The authors set cultural transit and transiAretha Franklin. Tupac Shakur and his tion against a backdrop of migratory patterns (including patterns of forced migration), showmother, Afeni. Big Freedia, New Orleans ing how macro-level shifts and individual lives bounce star and joyfully challenging force. Before the Black Lives Matter movement reflect — and refract — each other. Reframing gathered momentum, Freedia and her crew two-dimensional cartographies better to fit danced their way into a moment of black the realities of the breathing lives within them queer disruption, twerking traffic to a may not be altogether novel — but Robinson standstill. We spend time, in these pages, and Hunter swirl in figures recognizable and with Mos Def, and with W. E. B. Du Bois, anonymous, compelling data, and a strong case who was indicted for failing to register for hope in what’s to come, in the form of collective power. The full prism of Chocolate Cities as an agent of a foreign state, during the — a prism shone through chocolate — casts a McCarthy era, and emigrated to Ghana for singular light. the last years of his life.
Zandria F. Robinson
Marcus Anthony Hunter A P R I L 2 0 1 8 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 21
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PHOTOGRAPH BY ZIGGY MACK
Demetria PHISMAGA ZINE.COM • APRIL 20 18 22 • M E MFrank
3/20/18 6:19 PM
Prison Cells, Petri Dishes, and a Path Forward WITH PROJECT MI, DEMETRIA FRANK ADDRESSES THE CYCLE OF MASS INCARCERATION THAT HAS MADE THE U.S. THE WORLD’S FOREMOST JAILER.
by anna traverse
e are worse off in some ways,” Demetria Frank says, in characteristically forthright fashion, comparing the Memphis of today to the Memphis of 1968. (Frank’s surname certainly ﬁts.) What are those ways? “The way we incarcerate black men.” Frank, the executive coordinator of Project MI, a collaborative aimed at ending mass incarceration, has served since 2013 as assistant professor at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. A dramatic increase in incarceration rates over the past four decades has granted the United States the dubious distinction of being the world’s foremost jailer. According to data gathered by the American Civil Liberties Union, the U.S. accounts for 25 percent of the world’s prison population, despite being only 5 percent of overall global population. Within our booming — and proﬁtable — prison industry, layers of disparity persist, like the rates at which black and white offenders are imprisoned for drug offenses. Though drug use is roughly equivalent among blacks and whites, blacks are incarcerated for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of whites.
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arly in her career, as a community prosecutor in Dallas, Demetria Frank learned to approach law enforcement “with the spirit of restorative justice.” She was on the scene during prostitution stings, setting up a “courtroom on the spot” so that arrested women — almost always dealing with issues of economic disenfranchisement, domestic violence, chemical dependence, or some combination — could be arraigned then and there. The women then would be presented with rehabilitation options — treatment, shelter — rather than jail time. Also in Dallas, Frank was elected an associate judge, with a courthouse “in the middle of the county jail. I would see all these black men, who were young, who were suffering from different social issues — addictions, domestic issues, anger management issues.” After returning to the private sector for a time, during which she practiced toxic torts
IN THE CLASSROOM, FRANK — A NATIVE OF GALVESTON, TEXAS — TEACHES EVIDENCE, TRIAL PRACTICE, LITIGATION; HER WORK TOUCHES ON IMPLICIT BIAS, ON THE ROLE RACE PLAYS IN THE COURTROOM AND IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM. law (a type of personal-injury law when the plaintiff sues for damage related to exposure to a chemical or dangerous substance), Frank found that “my life had changed.” Litigation wasn’t the right fit anymore. She was a single mother; she couldn’t drop everything and leave town to try a case. An academic job, she realized, would suit her life-stage better. Which is how she “ended up in Wyoming — the biggest, craziest transition I’ve ever made,” she laughs. Frank connected with her students at the University of Wyoming College of Law, but “the lack of diversity there — I felt useless in academia in a way. The things I cared about, that I wanted to write about — none of those are issues there.” Those things are certainly issues in Memphis. In the classroom, Frank — a native of Galveston, Texas — teaches evidence, trial practice, litigation; her work touches on implicit bias, on the role race plays in the courtroom and in the justice system. Outside the classroom, “it was as easy as turning on the nightly news, or seeing those pamphlets in the drugstore with all the people who’ve been arrested — I’d never seen one of those before I got here.” Building on the community model that she had practiced in Dallas, Frank approached contin u ed on page 29
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Martinez offers headache care at East Campus
ndividuals suffering with headaches don’t have to go through life dealing with the pain. Jesus Martinez, MD, sees patients dealing with a range of neurological issues, including those who suffer with headaches. He sees patients at Regional One Health’s Multispecialty Care Clinic where he works with a team of providers who offer a personcentered approach to care. Dr. Martinez guides patients suffering with headaches and enables them to get control of their condition. “I think information and education empowers the patient to better manage their problem,” he said. “It’s not just me telling them to take this or that, but how to avoid situations to prevent headaches. “It depends on symptoms, but a person with headaches taking pain meds more than twice a week needs to be seen by a doctor,” he continued. “You can be helped so you don’t have to take so many pills. That’s the patient with a simple issue who goes from doctor to doctor. But most others with symptoms like passing out, weakness, getting episodes of abnormal sensations or losing vision can be straight forward nervous system issues.” If a person has two or more headaches per week they need preventative medication, Dr. Martinez said. It’s important to learn what will stop the next headache. Dr. Martinez doesn’t treat the pain, he searches for the cause of the headaches to prevent them from occurring. “It’s more important to find what stops the next headache from coming,” he said. “That’s the fine tuning to find what works for you to cut down the number of headaches, or if you have them maybe they won’t be as severe.” The later in life a person develops recurring headaches the more worrisome it is, Dr. Martinez said. “You may still have migraines but after age 50 we want to look to make sure we’re not missing something else,” he said. “It could be an inflammatory issue, tumor or blood vessel abnormality. Patients with migraines have been known to have an increased risk for strokes.” Dr. Martinez said he enjoys being part of the Multispecialty Care Clinic where he has the opportunity to work with other
Dr. Martinez consults with nurse practitioner Amanda Best and pharmacist AhYoung Wah to use a team approach to care for his patients.
It’s more important to find what stops the next headache from coming,” he said. “That’s the fine tuning to find what works for you to cut down the number of headaches, or if you have them maybe they won’t be as severe. JESUS MARTINEZ, MD practitioners in a range of specialties to provide the best care for the patient. The clinic is staffed with medicine services such as internal medicine, cardiology, endocrinology, nephrology, neurology and rheumatology. It’s a one-stop shop for a range of primary and specialty care needs. “We have other providers here so if I need to ask an internist to consult or a rheumatologist – and there are very few of them in town – I have that here,” he said. “It’s beneficial for the patient. “I had a gentleman here recently for something and he told me about swelling in his right ankle. I decided to send him over for an ultrasound and we discovered
a blood clot. He didn’t have to drive somewhere else. We could take care of it in the same building.”
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Martinez or learn more about our services online at
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Publication: Memphis Magazine
Client: Regional One Health
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Publication: Memphis Magazine Publication: Memphis Magazine
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contin u ed from page 25 her academic work on trial fairness with a knowledge of how “deeply embedded the problems are, even before you get to the trial phase.”
rank cites estimates that one in three black men in Memphis will be incarcerated at some point in his lifetime. “And in specific communities,” she points out, “that number turns into almost half.” By comparison, only one in every 17 or 18 white men in the city will be incarcerated in his lifetime. For black women, the numbers are roughly comparable to white men; white women are locked up at significantly lower rates. “Mass incarceration increases violence,” Frank asserts. In her view, beginning in the post-Civil Rights era, “These groups were painted as lawless. And now, it’s ‘justified’ because our kids are violent, but mass incarceration increases that. You take one-third of the black male workforce out of the community — what happens?” The feedback loop of violence and mass incarceration.
”CIRCUMSTANCES FOR OUR YOUTH, IN MEMPHIS, ARE SO DEBILITATING, FOR SO MANY KIDS, THAT THEY NEED THE SAME KINDS OF TOOLS THAT KIDS WITH PHYSICAL AND MENTAL DISABILITIES HAVE. SOCIALLY, THEY ARE DEBILITATED.” “We tell our kids to deal with social circumstances most of us could not deal with as adults,” Frank says. It’s like, she says, if “as a parent, I told you to clean the house — but I’m not going to give you any cleaning supplies, any equipment; I’m not going to give you the time to do it, or any resources to do this project, which is to stay out of trouble.” Project MI exists to provide those resources. Other groups working in the same space are there to intervene once an individual already has been caught up in the justice system. Project STAND, for instance, or JIFF Memphis (Juvenile Intervention & Faith-based Follow-up) — “they do great work,” Frank says, “but it’s an after-the-fact intervention. They have to get in trouble first.” By contrast, Project MI tries to find ways to reach young people before that first ticket is written. In late 2016, Frank and other professors at the university (“we have a partnership with our Institute of Health Law and Policy,”
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she notes, as well as in relationships with scholars of criminal justice and education) began to collaborate in collecting data on how to keep youths out of the justice system. One goal of the initial collaboration was to deconstruct the silos that often separate work that could logically, and productively, be connected. Those studying education may not be looking at outside social circumstances, public health experts not looking at school settings, policy wonks not examining imprisonment, release, recidivism. “But,” Frank comments, “I felt like we were doing this Petri dish approach. Like, let me have some of your stuff, you have some of mine, and we’ll just study it.” The work has evolved quickly, and far beyond any single Petri dish. Today, Project MI encompasses academic collaboration, as at its inception. But the collaborative is finding its way, more and more, into the community. To that end, they have partnered on programs and projects with Just City, the Black Lives Matter Memphis Chapter, and the Ben F. Jones Chapter of the Black Bar Association.
very young black man should have a little bit of that in their teen years, which is sad,” Frank says. She’s talking about self-advocacy: helping young
men develop a working knowledge of the criminal justice system, their rights within that system — and how to stay out of it. Attorneys are inundated; a young man who finds himself in the system may have little or no sense of what’s going on, what the process is. That lethal combination produces unintended and often uncorrectable consequences. Project MI, along with Project STAND (a Memphis-based community-outreach initiative centered around providing resources for
“MASS INCARCERATION INCREASES VIOLENCE. YOU TAKE ONE-THIRD OF THE BLACK MALE WORKFORCE OUT OF THE COMMUNITY — WHAT HAPPENS?” THE FEEDBACK LOOP OF VIOLENCE AND MASS INCARCERATION. survivors of domestic violence) has launched a pilot program at Carver High School, an alternative school in South Memphis. Frank explains that many — though not all — of the students at Carver have been expelled or suspended from their original school, the school where they are districted. And some students at Carver are there after having been
detained — upon release, they float out to Carver, where they can work on job readiness — “making them employable so that they don’t commit crimes. That’s the idea, to put it bluntly,” Frank explains. “One of the biggest weaknesses in our juvenile system: Once a kid is given their list of things to do, or given a trial date, they don’t know what to do in the meantime to make a good showing to the court. We help them with court portfolios. Help them develop more of an awareness of the system. I think it’s sad that a kid could get arrested, serve six months in detention, get out, and still know nothing about the justice system.” Frank assesses the self-advocacy work with youth — as practiced at Carver — as the most important piece of Project MI’s current work. “Circumstances for our youth, in Memphis, are so debilitating, for so many kids, that they need the same kinds of tools that kids with physical and mental disabilities have. Socially, they are debilitated. I don’t like how that sounds — but that’s basically what it is. Most kids in Memphis have been exposed to at least two ACEs.
CEs: adverse childhood experiences. These include abuse (including child abuse, domestic abuse, contin u ed on page 3 2
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30 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • A P R I L 2 0 1 8
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The Memphis Wine + Food Series proudly continues our 26-year tradition of bringing together award-winning chefs and prominent vintners for a series of fundraising events that directly impact our museum’s ability to bring art education to some of the most underserved in our community. Please join series chairs Emily and Bradley Rice, Sarah and David Thompson, and all of us at the Brooks this spring!
LUNCHEON WITH THE MASTERS Friday, May 18 | 12 p.m.
Catherine & Mary’s Wines from North Berkeley Imports Tickets: $300
GRAND ARTISANS’ DINNER Friday, May 18 | 6:30 p.m.
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Tickets: $750 (price includes a seat at the Grand Auction)
Saturday, May 19 | 5:30 p.m. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Tickets: $150 per person or $2,500 for reserved VIP table Event chairs: Margaret Ledbetter and Josh Hammond
2018 PRESENTING SPONSORS:
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psychological and verbal abuse), alcoholism or other chemical dependence in the family, dysfunction, neglect. These experiences are found to produce toxic stress and the kind of debilitation that Frank references. More than 50 percent of all youth in Shelby County have been exposed to at least one ACE, with 12 percent exposed to four or more ACEs. So in the program at Carver, for example, Frank hopes — down the line — to incorporate more holistic education. “If we want to stop kids from cycling into the juvenile justice system, and into the adult system, we need to address the bigger picture,” she says. That’s where she sees the academic side of Project MI and the community work merging: determining what policy shifts are needed in order to provide holistic education. This coming summer, Project MI will host a youth leadership summit, called My City, My Voice. The overarching goal of the summit is to resource under-resourced kids.
“OUR UNOFFICIAL SLOGAN IS THAT WE ARE TRYING TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF MASS INCARCERATION BY CONNECTING COMMUNITIES TO LAWMAKERS.”
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Leading up to the summit, an art contest is in the works. “One of the ideas,” Frank says, “being that kids need other ways to let out their expression, to express themselves. They need to be heard. So that’s a big part of what we try to provide, too: voice.” Frank sees the summit as the inception of programming that will continue throughout the year: more youth reached, through more partnerships developed across the community. For the summit, Project MI has secured partnerships with the public defender’s office and with Project STAND; other agreements are in the works. “Our unofficial slogan,” Frank says, “is that we are trying to solve the problem of mass incarceration by connecting communities to lawmakers.” She mentions a listening session coming next month, for example, an opportunity for the community to, well, listen. But, she points out, that event is being “driven by law enforcement. You may come and listen, but the people being affected don’t know how to translate their concern. You have to not only go and listen: You have to have people there who are listening with the right ear.” “Listening with the right ear” guides much of the mission of Project MI. The collective includes an “incubator committee” responsible for developing new directions to explore. One example Frank mentions is asking the youth with whom MI works to think constructively about blighted properties, developing their contin u ed on page 9 8
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CAN I GET A WITNESS? M
KARANJA AJANAKU | CALVIN ANDERSON | EKUNDAYO
emphis was shattered in Apr il 1968.
BANDELE | RUBY BRIGHT |
Five decades after that defining moment,
KEVIN BROOKS / LAWRENCE
MLK50 compels us to come to grips with
MATTHEWS | KENNARD
what happened in 1968 and the resulting years of
BROWN | DARRELL COBBINS
anguish of a society both demanding and resisting
| LURLYNN FRANKLIN |
change. Yet a transformation has occurred. In the
JARVIS GREER | CAROLYN
spirit of the National Civil Rights Museum’s MLK50 commemoration theme — “W here Do We Go From Here?” — we sought out witnesses this April in various professions, people who know our majority-black city, people who can tell their own stories, and who can provide insight into our future. Perhaps we can never completely eradicate the scourge of racism, but we can
HARDY | DORSEY HOPSON | ANDREA MILLER | JOHNNY MOORE | MEARL PURVIS | DESIREE ROBINSON | OTIS SANFORD | MELVIN CHARLES SMITH | ARCHIE WILLIS
never stop trying. The voices here point the way. photographs by
br a ndon dill
A P R I L 2 0 1 8 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 35
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aranja A. Ajanaku came to work for The Commercial Appeal in 1977 fresh out of journalism school at the University of Missouri. He knew nothing about Memphis except that it was where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. “That was it,” he says. “I just came in blank, trying to do the best I could do.” There are few experiences that can teach you about a city as quickly and thoroughly as getting assignments from a Metro editor every day. Your reporting will take you anywhere in town to cover events, tragic and comic. You not only talk to people for a story, you ask colleagues about what and who is important, and you find your way around. “I came in with a consciousness about the need to be active as an African-American person,” Ajanaku says. “And so I had that in my mind, but you’re just trying to make it, man. You’re just trying to make it.” He was prepared enough when fate intervened. “I found myself one day, just by chance, in a car with a guy who was holding people hostage,” he says. “I’m the only one there and ended up doing the story and it thrust me forward and gave me a chance to do some things.” Soon enough, he got a chance to cover City Hall. “I don’t know that they had any African-American staff to cover City Hall before,” he says. The Commercial Appeal had white reporters covering the white community for decades until King’s death, when it started to integrate the staff and its coverage. When Ajanaku went to cover City Hall, other
African-American reporters also got plum assignments: Otis Sanford on the federal beat and Jerome Wright covering police. “We were the three amigos, right?” Ajanaku says. Early in his tenure at the CA, Ajanaku and other African-American staffers went to editor Mike Grehl to talk about ways the newspaper could better cover the African-American community. Grehl wanted a designated African-American reporter for that, although Ajanaku
In developing his reporting skills, Ajanaku — whose name and byline then was Leroy Williams Jr. — encountered philosopher and researcher Nkosi Ajanaku, who helped guide his thinking about who he was culturally. The young journalist came to see that his identity was both African and American, but not about skin color. He was able to regard himself and his community with fresh eyes. In 1986, he had his name legally changed to Karanja A. Ajanaku, a reflection of his heightened cultural awareness. He was at The Commercial Appeal for many years and is now associate publisher/executive editor of The New Tri-State Defender where he continues a profession that is, he says, “designed to provide verified information that people can use to be able to make decisions about empowerment. That’s what it’s about, verified information.” That’s crucial to society on every level — global, national, local — but there are challenges coming from every direction. “We have all these other communication vehicles out there,” Ajanaku says. “They’re flooding the airways with all this information, most of which is not verified. It’s fake news, and that’s a problem. How you actually deliver the information is changing, with these phones and the internet and all. Those of us in the industry are having to make adjustments on the fly.” The Tri-State Defender started in 1951 as an African-American newspaper and today it continues because the demand is there. “What we’re about is being innovative relative to what we have always been about,” he says, “and that is to be advocates, to be a voice for the African-American community. In 1951, the African-American community was hurting. It had a need for information about itself relative to the struggle for civic rights, political
“MEMPHIS IS A MAJORITY AFRICANAMERICAN CITY, AND WE ARE SURE THAT IF WE PROVIDE THE COMMUNITY WITH WHAT IT NEEDS TODAY, THAT THEY WILL RESPOND RELATIVE TO READERSHIP AND SUPPORT.” disagreed, believing coverage should be spread around. But he applied for the beat anyway, telling the editor, “I’m good enough that I can do something with it, but I’ve also got enough courage that, if it needs to die, I’ll tell you that.” He got the job.
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As associate publisher and executive editor of The New Tri-State Defender, Karanja Ajanaku says his role is to “provide verifiable information that people can use to make decisions.” rights, human rights. And the more traditional papers weren’t providing that information for a variety of different reasons.” So African-American newspapers thrived, “But then integration came in, and it affected the lifeline of African-American newspapers,” Ajanaku says. “Journalists had other options and chose to go to those options. And let’s say that we give the more traditional papers the benefit of the doubt: They could see the light. They reached out to bring people in to cover the community.” But he’s optimistic about The New Tri-State Defender. “Memphis is a majority African-American city,” Ajanaku says, “and we are sure that if we provide the community with what it needs today, that they will respond relative to readership and support. And so we’re focused on the local: reporters and photographers interviewing, taking photos, talking to local people, producing local stories about local people involved in the unfolding of life around them relative to civics, to politics, basic human rights as it was before.” Ajanaku sees a bigger challenge, however. “We’ve got people who are growing up that can’t read,” he says. “And many who can, can’t read in context. They can’t comprehend stuff. “If you’re going to live in a democratic republic, you’re going to live where the individual has to be informed, and if he doesn’t have the tools to take in the information and make informed decisions, you’ve got a problem. It’s a greater threat than Russia. “So I think that education is just where we have to go,” he continues. “It’s a life-anddeath situation. We have to start funding education like we know that. And we have to start providing it at the earliest age possible, and we’ve got to broaden what it is that we’re teaching.” — Jon W. Sparks A P R I L 2 0 1 8 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 37
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hen the shot rang out in Memphis, muting the voice of a movement, Calvin Anderson was too young to fully understand what was happening. But he remembers vividly the TV broadcasts, and hearing from those close to him who had attended rallies and listened to Dr. Martin Luther King’s speeches. Before King’s death, “it was a time of feeling lifted — from not having felt like equal citizens in our city and not having had our voices heard,” Anderson says. “I recall discussions in school by teachers and discussions at home by elders about how good it felt to have an opportunity to have their voices heard and have their messages played out, and how it was so important that Dr. King had come to town, bringing his name, his prestigious organization, to help address the issues around sanitation workers specifically, but more in the broad
about and what was being done as far as where they had to sit during bus rides and how far they had to go to get to a route.” Looking back now, Anderson recalls being “in what literally was a segregated school and going to a movie outing. It wasn’t segregated seats by virtue of requirements, but it was sort of an unspoken thing that you sat in different sections.” Anderson grew up in South Memphis in a single-parent family with six siblings. His mother worked as an aid at what was then the Oakville Nursing Home, and while he remembers the family struggling, he credits his neighbors for making things easier. “That was where community support came in,” he says. “You felt you were truly part of a village, that you were connected to others [through the interactions] in the neighborhood.” Today, Anderson has remained connected to his neighbors and hometown; he’s served on the board of the Greater Memphis Chamber since 1995. After graduating from the University of Memphis in 1981 with a degree in business, he worked for Prudential Insurance and Universal
“BY NO MEANS HAVE WE SOLVED ALL OF OUR COMMUNITY PROBLEMS, BUT IF YOU LOOK AT WHERE WE WERE AND WHERE WE ARE NOW, THERE IS A DIVERSITY OF LEADERSHIP [IN MEMPHIS] THAT WASN’T HERE 50 YEARS AGO.” context around civil rights.” Anderson remembers stories from his elders about limitations on bus rides. “I’m not sure I fully comprehended it then,” he says, “but later on, I understood what they were talking
Life Insurance Company. He was civically active, working on voter registration activity. “That gave me an introduction to the political arena and a little bit of work on campaigns.” He campaigned for Jim Sasser, and became part of his Senate staff in Washington, D.C., in 1985. After nine years on Sasser’s staff, Anderson moved home to join BlueCross BlueShield of Memphis (which later merged
with BlueCross BlueShield of Chattanooga), first working in government relations, then gradually working his way up to become the first African-American executive officer of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. He served as senior vice president of corporate affairs and chief of staff until his retirement last year. In that leadership role, Anderson says he experienced
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”By addressing jobs and economic development, you address poverty and healthcare,“ says Calvin Anderson, recently retired from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.
“a lot of challenges, because if you’re the first one in any capacity, then there isn’t anyone who can mentor you, show you the ropes, and give you the specific set of directions that would be helpful for anyone going into a career. I was fortunate to have a set of CEOs who were committed to diversity, committed to me, and that made the ascension, and the work, easier.” Anderson worked closely
“on the Affordable Care Act during the 2009 legislative ramp-up, then through all of the implementations that came about in 2010, and up through 2017.” Data from Enroll America, a nonprofit group that aimed to get uninsured people signed up for ACA health plans, showed in 2015 that Shelby County accounted for the highest percentage — 14.5 percent — of unin-
sured residents in Tennessee. Most of the county residents without health coverage were either Hispanic (20 percent) or African American (18 percent). Anderson says those statistics are in line with the demographics of the state and county and points to the “gap,” which left a large number of people with no access to affordable or available care when Tennessee did not expand Medicaid. “If
you are 100 percent or below the federal poverty level, you qualify for Medicaid [TennCare in Tennessee]. If you are at 133 percent of federal poverty level, you qualify for the Affordable Care Act,” says Anderson. “If you are between 100 and 133, then that’s a gap where nothing is available for you.” Those who fall into the gap are more likely to seek care in emergency rooms or federally qualified health centers, on a case-by-case basis. This leads to a “loss of coordination” in care, and rising costs, as each provider essentially has to “start over” with a patient on each visit. In turn, patients don’t receive the kind of follow-up that is necessary for the best quality care and best outcomes. Anderson thinks the best way to address the disparities in healthcare access in Memphis is to focus upon workforce development. A skilled workforce gains access to jobs, he says, which then gives access to healthcare, either by access to group coverage at work or the income to purchase independently. “By addressing the jobs and economic development issues, you also address the poverty and healthcare issues.” Now working for former Nashville mayor Karl Dean as treasurer of his gubernatorial campaign, Anderson is hopeful for the future of our city. “By no means have we solved all of our community problems, but if you look at where we were and where we are now, there is a diversity of leadership [in Memphis] that wasn’t here 50 years ago. You look at the business landscape, as far as the number of African-American corporate officers in 2018; it’s way more than any number you could name in one breath in 1968.” — Shara Clark
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kundayo Bandele, the Hattiloo Theatre’s founder and executive producer, thinks the time for conversations about equity in arts and culture is over. “It’s time to stop talking and start acting,” he says, explaining why he has trouble talking exclusively about the lively art his organization is built around, without considering the broader spectrum of black cultural institutions. “When you just talk about theater you shrink the conversation down. You silo it,” Bandele says. He compares Memphis’ traditional cultural assets to a second, considerably shorter list that can be identified as being historically black. “On one side you have the Brooks Museum of Art, Playhouse on the Square, Theater Memphis, Ballet Memphis, New Ballet Ensemble, the Metal Museum, the Dixon Gallery, the Symphony, Iris, Voices of the South, boom, boom, boom,” he says, indicating an ability to go on like this indefinitely. “Then, when you look at black assets there’s Hattiloo. There’s Collage Dance. There’s the Memphis Black Arts Alliance. And that’s about it. “Needless to say,” Bandele concludes, “in a city that’s predominantly black there is a great imbalance.” Bandele grew up splitting time between New York and North Memphis, before putting down permanent roots in Midtown in 2004. He’s proud of how far his small but mighty playhouse has come in its 14 years of existence. But the man who created Hattiloo in a transitional neighborhood near Sun Studio in 2006, then moved it, note-free, into a custom-built house on Overton Square, right
next door to Circuit Playhouse, isn’t comfortable bragging. “There are only four free-standing black theaters in the country and we have one,” Bandele says. “We have a paid-for building. We have an endowment. We have all these things. So we could beat our chest as a city and say, ‘Look at what we’ve done here!’ But
historic narratives about the commodification of black success in America and its regular transformation into white wealth. “Right now we have so many great black playwrights,” he says, naming The House That Will Not Stand author Marcus Gardley, Moonlight co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Tony winner Danai Gurira, better known for playing strong characters like the katana-wielding Michonne in The Walking Dead. “Katori Hall’s in London right now opening Tina [a jukebox musical about Tina Turner],” Bandele says, referencing Memphis’ best known contemporary playwright. “I don’t remember a time in our history outside the Harlem Renaissance when we’ve had so many accomplished, noteworthy, award-winning black playwrights,” he says. “But there was this verdant cultural landscape of black theaters in the 1980s and 1990s, and now there are only four of us. How can it be that we’ve arrived at this moment when we have all these incredible black playwrights doing great work, but then you have almost no black theaters available to produce the work they’re doing? “The answer is integration,” Bandele continues. “I hate to say it. But larger white theaters open their doors to black playwrights and say, ‘They [the black theaters] can’t give you a $20,000 commission but we can. They can’t give you 200 lights but we can. They can’t give you a list of dramaturgs, but we can.’ So that’s where the black playwrights go, and understandably so.” Bandale once spoke at a conference about ‘equity,’ and how that word has “become the big catchphrase. It’s all over the place. Some of the larger white theaters want to know how they can support black theaters.” He believes the best way is to “to let us be the authority on black theater. If you are a big
theater producing a show by August Wilson, or something big like Suzan-Lori Parks’ Porgy and Bess, you need to go to [and partner with] a black theater. If white theaters would only recognize black theaters as the authority and work with us when they produce plays by black playwrights, we’d get so many more benefits than just a share of the ticket sales. We’d get peer-to-peer train-
“LIKE MALCOLM X SAID, ‘IF ONE BLACK PERSON HURTS WE ALL HURT.’ SO THAT’S WHY I SAY I CAN’T JUST TALK ABOUT THEATER. BUT MAYBE WE CAN USE THAT AS THE MICROCOSM FOR A MACROCOSMIC CONVERSATION.” when you look at the landscape, there’s a long way to go. Like Malcolm X said — and I’m quoting him incorrectly, but — ‘If one black person hurts we all hurt.’ So that’s why I say I can’t just talk about theater. But maybe we can use that as the microcosm for a macrocosmic conversation.” Bandele’s concerns with black theater and culture echo
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ing. We’d get a look behind the curtains at how the bigger theaters run their auditions, get resident interns, get their grants and sponsors or engage the millennial working class.” While bigger casts may be ever more integrated, casting at Memphis theaters trends toward the traditional, with few leading or even supporting roles not expressly written for nonwhite actors going to non-white
actors. Things get even whiter behind the scenes in positions relating to design, development, stage direction, marketing, and executive management. “It’s a little of what Jesse Jackson said,” Bandele suggests. “You’ve got to see it to be it.” Hattiloo was created to correct a problem evident to anyone paying attention to Memphis’ cultural scene. Theater-loving members of the
city’s large African-American majority regularly waited in the wings for a chance to audition for (or buy tickets to) blackthemed shows, which are still produced infrequently by most regional theaters. Nevertheless Bandele isn’t convinced more theaters are the answer. “We don’t need more theaters like Hattiloo,” he says, staking his claim on established plays and musicals that fall into a spe-
cific kind of literary tradition. “Now, do we need a hip-hop theater, maybe? Or a theater that specializes in new work like what’s being done by [Memphis playwright] Ruby O’Gray?” he asks. “Yes.” — Chris Davis “There are only four free-standing African-American theaters in the United States, and we have one,” says Ekundayo Bandele, founder of the Hattiloo Theatre in Overton Square.
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hen Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Ruby Bright was a 15-year-old sophomore. “I remember very vividly my family gathering,” she says. “And it seems as if the day had been a sunshiny day except, for that moment, the clouds rolled in.” Bright, executive director of the Women’s Founda-
tion for a Greater Memphis, is from nearby Byhalia, Mississippi, where her extended family all lived close together. She recalls gathering in her uncle’s yard that day, a dog howling as if a summons, her aunt removing King’s picture from the wall. “People talked about the sadness, about what it meant,” Bright says. There was fear that the marching would stop, that communities would be burned. “I was frightened. I was sad,” she says. But it also served as a catalyst that would lead Bright to community service. “I felt a sense of resolve that you have to be a part of change,” she says. This meant having no fear shopping in local stores and getting better school books. Her high school principal at her segregated high school gave students space to meet. In 1970, Bright and fellow students of her Byhalia High School graduating class integrated a local restaurant through nonviolent sit-ins. “We talked about it and read about it as well as watched things on television,” she says. “Some things weren’t as positive as others. We had good conversations. We used that opportunity to talk about the sacrifices of
our parents, grandparents, and the importance they put on having a stronger and better life.” Bright recounts how in 1991, after Memphis’ first black mayor, Willie Herenton, was elected she grabbed her
standing up,” she says. “We don’t ever know what’s going to happen. I allowed them to come with me that night. It was late, but I put them in the car. I wanted them to know that moment and feel that.” “I was able to share about Martin Luther King the things he did and why he did it,” she recalls. “How does it affect me? What did you reap from that? It really helped my children understand the importance of giving back and volunteering.” When Bright was young, she was charged with organizing her church’s Women’s Day fund-raiser. She was asked to raise $1,000. She said, “Why not $10,000?” She then set about getting 100 women to raise $100 each through selling pies, cakes, and hotdogs. Fund-raising proved to be something for which Bright had a knack. After high school, following a job at a nursing home where her mother worked and a stint in the late 1970s as executive manager at Dave Williams Printing, Bright began volunteering for Junior Achievement. There, among other things, “I learned how to raise money,” she says. Junior Achievement valued her work and hired her for a marketing position. She served the organization for 15 years, including four as president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Kansas City, before landing the position as executive director of the Women’s Foundation in 2000. The Women’s Foundation announced its ambitious Vision 2020 program in 2015. The goal of the program is to improve the lives of those living in the 38126 zip code, the poorest in the Memphis area. This means securing government resources for needy families, providing job training, offering pre-school prep, working on youth development, and
“I HAVE HIGH STANDARDS. I PUSH PEOPLE TO BE CREATIVE: ‘WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BECOME?’ I LOOK FOR POTENTIAL AND EXPERTISE, PEOPLE WHO ARE ENERGETIC. AND THEIR INTEREST MUST BE BEYOND MONEY.” keys, put her children in the car, and headed downtown to celebrate. They considered the possibility that someone might try to kill Herenton. “We talked about that and about
working on financial literacy. “I think the most important thing philanthropy at the Women’s Foundation has done is to really help us understand the deep, core barriers that families without resources face — to be able to walk with them, work them through agencies, through leadership. It’s going to take a long time to make all that happen.” When it comes to her leadership style, Bright describes herself as a “tough but fair manager.” The Women’s Foundation has a small staff (nine full-time employees), and Bright expects those she hires to bring vision beyond their current jobs. “I have high standards,” she notes. “I push people to be creative: ‘What do you want to become?’ I look for potential and expertise, people who are energetic. And their interest must be beyond money.” “Women have led the way, and I think that women can continue to do that. I think leaders in our community, both men and women, need to resolve how we want to make change and go about doing it. If we all take a little piece of it and work that part — I know it seems a little ‘pie in the sky’ — but it’s such a doable approach.” Asked what makes her optimistic about Memphis’ future, Bright points to the presence of the National Civil Rights Museum in the city, a day-to-day reminder of our civil rights history, along with the diversity of the city’s elected officials. But there’s plenty of room for improvement. “My hope is that we will continue to really look at creating the best opportunities for children, so that they can what they need to have to succeed in life.” — Susan Ellis
Ruby Bright, executive director of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, believes the death of Dr. Martin Luther King was the catalyst that led her to a life of community service.
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KEVIN BROOKS & LAWRENCE MATTHEWS
While Brooks was a student at the University of Memphis, he was selected for a Sundance Ignite fellowship, a program to introduce the most promising filmmakers in the world to the Hollywood elite. That was around the time artist, musician, and aspiring filmmaker Lawrence Matthews met him. Matthews pitched a TV show idea to producer/director Morgan Jon Fox, who recommended he meet with Brooks. “I was sitting in Otherlands, nervous, thinking I was going to be pitching this Millennial show, with all these Millennial problems, to an old man. He’s not going to get any of these references. Then Kevin walks in and I was like, ‘Yes! He’s young and black!’” Since that first meeting, the pair has had a fruitful partnership. Mathews starred in Brooks’ short film Myles, and they collaborated on two epic videos for Matthews’ musical alter ego, Don Lifted. Due to entrenched institutional racism, black writers and directors have long been shut out of Hollywood. But Brooks says the 2017 Oscar
Best Picture win for Moonlight, the first ever for a film with an all-black cast, gives him hope. “This stuff that’s going on now in Hollywood, with black people, it’s totally changing. I want to tell stories that are not your average black movie. When I was a kid, I was watching films by Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky. I’ve always wanted to tell more artful stories within the black community, and that’s the whole renaissance that’s taking place.” Matthews says long-held industry assumptions are crum-
that black TV shows drove more engagement. Now, it seems like they understand that when you put proper energy into black projects and black creators, you end up with Get Out and Black Panther. That’s a thing that Hollywood said was impossible. ‘Black people don’t do well internationally,’ they say. ‘They don’t do well as leads.’ But these films have proved Hollywood wrong, and because of that, it’s opening the floodgates for people. You can’t say anymore that it’s not possible.” Both artists say that, as black kids growing up in Memphis, their parents made sure they were aware of the legacy of the
“WHEN YOU PUT PROPER ENERGY INTO BLACK PROJECTS AND BLACK CREATORS, YOU END UP WITH GET OUT AND BLACK PANTHER. THAT’S A THING THAT HOLLYWOOD SAID WAS IMPOSSIBLE.” bling. “Right now, Hollywood reminds me of the 1990s, when we had a plethora of TV shows because the executives realized
great civil rights leaders. “My grandmother really instilled it in me,” Brooks says. “She would pick me up from school all the time and drill it into me, about Malcolm X and Dr. King. My school didn’t really go deep into it — I went to a Catholic private school — but my family really instilled it in me.” Matthews says his father would start off the day by playing recordings of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches. “I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know about him. My dad always had pictures of Martin Luther King in the house. My brother, who came later, was named Martin Malcolm, after Dr. King and Malcolm X. Last summer, Matthews was doing photography workshops at the Carpenter Art Garden in
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LAWRENCE MATTHEWS PHOTOGRAPH BY BRANDON DILL
watch. That’s where it all started. I love telling stories with cameras, and creating a community of people that way.”
KEVIN BROOKS PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY KEVIN BROOKS
ver since he was 6 years old Kevin Brooks has wanted to make ﬁ lms. “My dad brought home a camera and I started running around the house ﬁ lming random things. Then me and my friends started recreating ﬁ lms that we loved — little Star Wars scenes, scenes from Pulp Fiction — which we were probably too young to even
in a way. That’s a big undertaking. Not every film I make is going to be huge and change people. But I want to have that as a base level. Even the short film I just finished, which is about love and heartbreak, I hope it helps people heal the same way it helped me heal when I was making it. Everything I make, I put myself into it, hoping to connect with people. I feel like it’s a lot of responsibility. Younger kids are looking up to you, thinking, He’s a Memphis filmmaker. If he can do it, I can do it.” Matthews says he sees increased opportunities for black creatives in Memphis’ future. “I think it’s definitely better to be a black artist in Memphis now than it was when I was in high school. I think it took Midtown and Downtown
Memphis ﬁlmmakers Kevin Brooks (left) and Lawrence Matthews (below) believe that black writers and directors were long shut out of Hollywood, but a renaissance is taking place. “It’s better to be a black artist now than it was when I was in school,” says Matthews.
creating these spaces for people to create freely. Before, if you weren’t connected, you were out of it. There wasn’t this kind of infrastructure, at least in my experience, to provide alternative ways to get your creativity out. Now there are outlets for people like me. I’m not signed to a label, I’m not represented by a gallery, I don’t have an agent. But I’m still able to do work and get paid for that world. If we do our job, there will be more of us in the future.” —Chris McCoy
LAWRENCE MATTHEWS PHOTOGRAPH BY BRANDON DILL
Binghampton when he started hearing of black families being forced out by gentrification. “I heard about all the things these kids were going through, and I thought, I can’t make visual art about this. I can’t sing about this. This needs to be a film. There’s a bigger thing happening here that I need to document. If no one knows about it, things won’t change. People’s lives are being affected for generations, because other people are making decisions for them that are not for them.” At 23, Brooks is the youngest person ever to be on the board of the Memphis and Shelby County Film and Television Commission. His films Bonfire and Queendom Come screened at Crosstown Arts in March. “You have to tell stories that are going to push society forward,
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DR. KENNARD BROWN
n his office in the heart of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center campus, Dr. Kennard Brown looks through a book published in 1986 to celebrate the school’s 75th anniversary. “What’s conspicuously absent is any substantive noteworthiness of any African American here,” says Brown, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer for the UTHSC system. “Since then, we’ve gone through a stark revolution concerning race. I think that’s something that we can be very proud of. And I think this is the mandate that Dr. Martin Luther King left us all. We have a social responsibility to offer everybody an equal opportunity to contribute to the greater good.” Growing up in Hayti, Missouri, and later Chicago, Illinois, Brown remembers, “All I ever wanted to be was a police officer.” His family were mostly sharecropper farmers,
became convinced that the only pathway was an education.” After high school, he joined the Marine Corps, and then came to Memphis, where he attended the University of Memphis and Southwest Tennessee Community College. “I graduated from both of them the same year,” he says, “with an associate’s degree in psychology and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with an emphasis on criminal justice.” Instead of the police force, Brown joined the U.S. Postal Service, working as a postal inspector. Assigned to Miami, he worked the narcotics task force there for six years. “I still had this notion of being a policeman,” he says, “but my wife wanted nothing to do with that, because she knew I’d never be home.” Since
“IF WE CAN ATTRACT MORE MINORITY PROFESSIONALS, THAT WOULD MEAN MORE HEALTHCARE PROVIDED TO THESE COMMUNITIES, AND THE OVERALL WELL-BEING OF THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE GETS BETTER IN AN EVOLUTIONARY WAY.” “working for the people whose land they lived on,” he says. “But even though they couldn’t read or write, all they talked about was the importance of school.” Brown listened, saying, “I
her parents lived in Memphis, Brown returned here and enrolled in the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, where he earned his juris doctorate. That’s where he noticed a definite racial dynamic. “There were 22 African Americans in my class when I started law school, and 20 of them washed out the first year.” This was a far higher percentage than white students, and some students
expected him to join their protest of discrimination. “I kept thinking, I see the argument you guys want to make,” Brown says, “but I’m nobody. I don’t have any connections. I was just a guy studying at night and doing the best I could do.” After he graduated, he applied for a clerkship in the law department at UT. Brown remembers “a lot of complaints about discrimination being
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As executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Dr. Kennard Brown believes UT “has a social responsibility to offer everybody an equal opportunity to contribute to the greater good.”
made to the general counsel’s office. They didn’t really feel like that office interceded or investigated their complaints appropriately.” He had a talk with Chancellor Bill Rice, noting, “In instances of discrimination — and those were pretty frequent — I could offer some solace as an African-American male.” Brown was hired as the director of affirmative action. “Over about a five-year period, there
was an evolutionary shift in the culture,” he says. “It was pretty common to hear the n-word or other pejorative things. And I’m not saying it was all because of me, but in that time when I was director, we became as an institution pretty definitive in terms of what this environment would tolerate.” A high point in the school’s history came in 2005, when Dr. William F. Owen became the
first African-American chancellor at UTHSC. “At the end of my six years as director of affirmative action, one of the things I was most proud of was playing a part in the hiring of Dr. Owen. That was a big step for this institution, and a big step for Memphis, to have an African American in a leadership role.” Although Owen stayed only two years, before he was hired away to a school in
New Jersey, “no campus in the entire University of Tennessee system had ever had an African American in charge, and neither has the University of Memphis, Rhodes College, Christian Brother, or other places.” Brown observes, “Our hiring practices, our admissions policy, and everything else really reflects that change, and how the institution embraced race.” In fact, he says, “In the 20 years that I have been here, we have not had a racial incident of major import on this campus.” In recent years, UTHSC has gone through other “evolutionary steps,” says Brown, to attract more African Americans as students and faculty members. “Dr. Norma Henderson is the first African American to head up the College of Health Professions. Dr. Marie Chisholm Burn, dean of the College of Pharmacy, makes a definitive effort to recruit minority students into that college.” It’s more than just about numbers, though. It’s a quality of life issue. “People generally like to have their care provided by people who look like them,” he observes. Far too many minority patients don’t have a primary-care doctor, but an African-American physician would be more likely to open a practice in predominantly African-American neighborhoods — Whitehaven, Orange Mound, Frayser — than their white counterparts. “If we can attract more minority professionals, that would mean more healthcare provided to these communities,” says Brown, “and the overall well-being of the people who live there gets better in an evolutionary way.” — Michael Finger
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or Darrell Cobbins, real estate is essentially the family business. His interest in the field bloomed at a young age while he was growing up in Whitehaven with his grandparents. “I grew up around my grandfather’s office in the real estate business and watched him go to work every day, so real estate was in my blood,” says Cobbins. His grandfather, Samuel, became the first African-American employee of the Tennessee Department of Employment Security, where he met Bill Wolfe, who would later become his business partner in real estate.
The two opened Peace Realty and created the Lakeview Gardens subdivision in Southwest Memphis, notable as the first middle-income neighborhood for black professionals. That trailblazing real estate legacy manifested itself in the younger Cobbins. “My brother and I were among the first African-American students to attend Memphis University School,” he says, “and I believe I was the fifth to graduate.” After graduating from high school, Cobbins used experience from Rhodes College, a stint at Guardsmark, and other connections to be accepted into Leadership Memphis at only 23 years of age, later landing a job at the Greater Memphis Chamber. Those experiences further helped him build relationships in the business community that led to a job at Commercial Tennessee (now Cushman & Wakefield) in 2001. “I remember the first event I went to on my first week on the job. There are broker events at different properties to market them,” says Cobbins. “I walked in and saw I was
the only black person in the room. I got several questions about what I did at Cushman & Wakefield, and people reacted with surprise when I said I was a broker. No one had ever seen an African-American broker.” According to Cobbins, most women and minorities at the
think I saw another minority, especially African American, in the industry for at least seven years. There was a time, 50 to 60 years ago, where if your name wasn’t Boyle, Snowden, Belz, Trezevant, Loeb, maybe some others, you wouldn’t be working in commercial real estate. “It started to become more open and egalitarian in the 1970s and 1980s. Looking at it that way, the industry has evolved only about 40 years,” he continues. “The African-American experience on the commercial side was never really cultivated or developed. It’s better than it was 17 years ago, but nowhere near where it could or should be.” One of Cobbins’ main concerns is with the economic disparity in Memphis, which deprives youth of positive experiences that can propel them to different career paths. “If you think about Dr. King’s final work, it all centered on economics. The last thing he was working on was the Poor People’s Campaign, and one of his famous quotes was, ‘I can sit at the same counter as another man, but if I don’t have a dollar in my pocket to buy a cup of coffee, it doesn’t matter.’ If you look at Memphis, the disparity is jarring.” Cobbins says that commercial real estate is based on business growth and expansion. Without it, the industry is unable to grow, which means even fewer opportunities. “What many people don’t get is that commercial real estate is very much an eatwhat-you-kill profession: 100 percent commission,” he says. “That scares some people, maybe women and minorities, who don’t have all the connections to just go out and say, ‘I’m fine with not having a check every two weeks.’ Many of our issues are borne of economic deprivation. The hope for Memphis is that the economics can change. If not, all our issues just get bigger and bigger.” Cobbins points to investmen-
“THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN EXPERIENCE ON THE COMMERCIAL SIDE WAS NEVER REALLY CULTIVATED OR DEVELOPED. IT’S BETTER THAN IT WAS 17 YEARS AGO, BUT NOWHERE NEAR WHERE IT COULD OR SHOULD BE.” time worked in other facets of the business, such as property management, research, or administrative support roles. The commercial real estate industry has been slow to embrace the diverse talent pool that Memphis has to offer. “That broker event was in 2001,” says Cobbins. “I don’t
As the head of Universal Commercial Real Estate, Darrell Cobbins is today one of the few African-American commercial real estate firm owners in Memphis. banker and former Memphian Cedric Bobo as an example of how to reduce the gap for impoverished youth. Along with Fred Greene, Bobo founded Project Destined, which puts high school students through an eight-week training program to learn terminology, analysis, property types, and tour properties. With the help of investors, students then invest in a real property. The resulting income helps fund college tuition. For those already inside the business, Cobbins hopes to form a diverse group that can start having real discussions about positive ways to influence diversity. “A group of people with a degree of staying power can go out and have conversations with some of the the larger companies,” he says, “and we can maybe look at what we can be doing with institutions like the University of Memphis, Rhodes College, and LeMoyne-Owen College.” Inspiring youth is the final focus for Cobbins, who credits his Leadership Memphis experience at 23 as an eye-opening experience for learning the ins-and-outs of Memphis’ business world. “It really helped me see what the issues are at neighborhood and community levels,” he says. “The exposure to individuals, awareness, leaders and players — it’s important if you can get it as young as possible. It’s empowering. We’ve got great organizations doing that right now, and I also think we need more.” For now, as the head of Universal Commercial Real Estate, Cobbins is the only African-American commercial real estate firm owner in Memphis. With work for FedEx, the City of Memphis, and the Crosstown Concourse project, Cobbins has seen the city’s infrastructure and economy at a micro-level and wants to do right by Memphis. The photo of his grandfather hanging in the office is all the motivation and inspiration he needs to keep striving to create opportunities for others in the commercial real estate field. — Samuel X. Cicci
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he pursuit of artistic expression, you might think, is well suited for experimentation and the pushing of boundaries. But it is a discipline and there are rules. Some principles are important to fabricating the art but others are grounded in cultural imperatives or perceived social limitations. Artist and writer Lurlynn Franklin’s vast canvas has never been accommodating to those who say, “you’re not supposed to” or “you have to.” “I actually had people telling me I couldn’t put white people in my art,” the Memphis-born artist says. “I’m thinking, I’m an artist first. I can do whatever I want when it comes to that. What I wanted to say in my art called for his white ass to be there, so I was going to put him there. The biggest struggle for me has been to allow myself to let everything in. This is all my playground and I have no limitations. Nobody can really tell me what I can present or how I present it.” Developing her artistic and literary sensibility brought her in touch with Memphis arts organizations that gave her sustenance. The Memphis Black Arts Alliance, founded in 1982 by Bennie Nelson West, was one such. It’s still around, promoting literary, performing, and visual arts. For a time there was the Sidewalk University International Booksellers, a bookstore and gallery specializing in African-American literature and art and African art. Franklin attended the Memphis College of Art, whose days are now numbered, but where she was able to develop her artistic
voice as she earned her MFA and master’s degrees in arts education. “There was a great faculty there that nurtured me,” she says. “My work was distinctive African-American work. I was doing it in a different, non-traditional way.” But some students felt, she says, they were being told
you’re attacking the artist. Probably the easiest thing to grab hold to was saying, you’re just pushing down my Africanism, trying to push down my blackness.” Franklin, who teaches art in town, fully understands both overt and subtle forces that African-American artists in Memphis have to deal with. She feels, for example, that for years there’s been something of a void. “It was like a really kind of dead space where nobody was addressing any kind of issues,” she says. “Dead space maybe until the last 10 years, where African Americans were feeling more comfortable — or driven — to put their points across, to maybe add some political elements to their art.” Between her vivid imagery and her incisive writing — check out her book Fabled Truths: Self Portraits and Poetic Essays and lurlynnfranklin.com — Franklin expresses what she needs to, even if it’s bruising. “I’ve had people tell me that I was too preachy,” she says. “The thing is that was just kind of me. I couldn’t get out of the point that I had to have something to say. Now, people feel like that is not the purpose of art, but being a writer, I had to make points about things. I had to inject my philosophy.” She’s currently working on a project with students that involves, among other things, creating signage that says “Welcome to Frayser.” The signs and murals have gotten community support. Whoever comes by gets to make a mark on the scene she’s creating, embedding their presence. She takes it further with her art and when it is done, it will truly be a community project. “There’s not going to be anybody in that community that doesn’t pass by that, that they either put their hand on that, or they know somebody who put their hand on that,” Franklin says. “That’s how you infiltrate
the arts into a community.” The future of African-American art, Franklin feels, requires a particular focus. “I’m hoping it becomes more political, touches on things or tries to combine history with what’s happening
“I ACTUALLY HAD PEOPLE TELLING ME I COULDN’T PUT WHITE PEOPLE IN MY ART. I’M THINKING, I’M AN ARTIST FIRST. I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT WHEN IT COMES TO THAT.” in more or less subliminal ways “that they needed to park their blackness, pick up a white tube of paint, and water it down.” Perhaps there was some of that. And, she says, perhaps some students were being critiqued not for content but for how they were doing it. “To an artist, if you’re going to attack any little thing,
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in the present day symbolically,” she says. “I really think as an artist that maybe it’s somewhat irresponsible if you don’t have a bit of activism in your work. Not unless you’re living under a rock, because I don’t think this
is an age where you should just be trying to paint rainbows and daisies. Not unless you’re doing that to hang over somebody’s couch. To make people feel good about something that’s not good.
“I mean, stop calling BS chocolate frosting,” she continues. “BS is not chocolate frosting. Clean up the BS, and then go out and get a chocolate cupcake. You know what I’m saying?” — Jon W. Sparks
Artist and author Lurlynn Franklin hopes that in the future, AfricanAmerican art “becomes more political, touches on things or tries to combine history with what’s happening symbolically.”
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en-year-old Jarvis Greer was at home in his Memphis bedroom, watching an episode of That Girl, in the early evening of April 4, 1968. The longtime sports director at WMC-TV Action News 5 points out the irony of that particular show and that fateful day; the star of the program was Marlo Thomas, daughter of Danny Thomas, the founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Greer remembers the piercing scream of a next-door neighbor when a bulletin interrupted the show, announcing Martin Luther King had been shot. “It’s like it put everything in slow motion,” says Greer. “There was shock. Everyone in the neighborhood went outside; there was wailing. Not long after that, I remember the half-tracks rolling down South Parkway. They had mobilized the National Guard.” Now one of the most recognizable faces in Memphis, Jarvis Greer is his hometown. Watch one of his segments on
exist to lift us and celebrate the best qualities of a community. Greer’s devotion to sports began in elementary school, where a baseball bat and glove dissolved any racial boundaries among teammates. He became a star running back at Christian Brothers High School (Class of 1975) and later earned a scholarship — as a defensive back — at what was then called Memphis State University. While he confesses to a childhood affection for the USC Trojans (during O.J. Simpson’s glory days), Greer emphasizes, “I always wanted to be a Tiger.” Greer grew up in the Lamar/Airways neighborhood, in a house still occupied by his mother. His father, J.W. Greer, fought in the Korean War and lost the use of his legs in battle. Jarvis recalls watching his dad mow the family’s yard, one hand on the mower as the other worked his wheelchair … until young Jarvis came to assist. The example Greer’s father set —
“THIS AGE OF TRUMP HAS UNLEASHED A LOT OF PEOPLE’S LATENT FEELINGS. AS BLACK PEOPLE, WE KNOW IT’S THERE UNDER THE SURFACE FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE. THEY GREW UP WITH IT.” Action News 5 or listen to a single radio broadcast of Memphis Tiger football — Greer is the analyst alongside Dave Woloshin — and you recognize the sincere passion of a Memphian convinced sports
starting with work ethic — has fueled him long since his dad died, when Jarvis was in the eighth grade. He describes a happy childhood, but one in which he was cognizant of the Civil Rights movement; the Greers listened to Dr. King’s weekly sermons on the radio. “Growing up as a black kid in this town, you knew there was a difference,” he says. “It just was. There were certain
places you could go, certain things you could do. It was on the tail end of going to the zoo on Thursday, the only day you could go. I remember going with my dad to get something to eat at Park and Getwell — East Memphis back then — and I had to go in, because Dad couldn’t. And the man called me ‘boy.’ Well, I was a boy at the time, but it was the way he said it. He made me wait in the
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Sportscaster Jarvis Greer will celebrate his 40th year at WMC-TV next year, and also does radio broadcasts for University of Memphis Tigers football.
back. Subtle things. It’s just the way it was, but it got better.” Greer had what he considers a pair of advantages not every black child of his generation enjoyed. His parents wanted him to attend Catholic schools because the system prioritized educating black children. And he was a good athlete. However racists might sting — and Greer heard his share of whispers at CBHS — a football
field was a good equalizer. “People didn’t mess with me too much,” says Greer. “Some kids are mean just to be mean, some don’t care, and some learn from their parents. As I got older, I recognized [how much] came from parents. I didn’t let a lot of that bother me. I internalize more now, in this climate. The older you get, you don’t have to filter yourself as much.” Greer will celebrate his 40th
anniversary at Action News 5 in 2019. Greer interned for a short while with WKNO, which broadcasts replays of Tiger basketball games, before joining the WMC team. “I’ve been very lucky in life,” Greer emphasizes. “The fact that I was an athlete helped [me get started] but I can’t give the U of M communications department a higher recommendation.” Not unlike his playing days,
Greer has found sports media to be a tolerant industry, one where matters of race tend to take a back seat to performance, the cold truth of a team or athlete either winning or losing. Looking back to the mid-Nineties, he does feel like racism was an underlying component in a colleague’s mean-spirited efforts to oust Larry Finch, the Tiger basketball legend who coached the team from 1986 to 1997. Sports can also impact society at large, says Greer, and he has no problem with the likes of LeBron James speaking out on topics like gun violence. “This age of Trump,” he says, “has unleashed a lot of people’s latent feelings. As black people, we know it’s there under the surface for a lot of people. They grew up with it. But there are a lot more people who don’t feel that way, and that’s the saving grace.” Ever the optimist, Greer sees a bright future for what remains to be accomplished in the Civil Rights movement, and feels like Dr. King would be pleased if he could see Memphis in 2018. “First of all, he’d be proud that the statues [of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis] have finally come down, by whatever means they had to do it,” he says. “The city did a good job, exhausting every legal option. There’s still a lot more that needs to be done, when you have almost half your population of black children living in poverty. We’re not there yet. There are still some attitudes that need to change. “People here want the things people everywhere else want. If one half is doing well and the other half is not, you’re going to get pulled down. When progress matters to everybody, that’s when things get done.” — Frank Murtaugh
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arolyn Hardy is answering a roundabout question about equity by sharing a memory about essence. Grape essence, to be precise. The seventh of 16 children, Hardy grew up in poverty, in Orange Mound, South Memphis — all over town, really. The family moved frequently. She learned early on the value of cultivating ingenuity. While plant manager at the J.M. Smucker Company in Memphis, Hardy decided to turn around the facility’s bottom-of-the-pot results. She didn’t hesitate to, well, stir things up. She asked a mentor how his plant’s grape jelly managed to win quality tests so consistently. “I said, I looked at every report, and you’ve won every time. Nobody wins every time. I said, you’re doing something that everybody else is not doing. He told me. Mmm hmm. He was using extra essence. “He got the fruit plant to send him all the extra grape essence," she continues. "And legally he could use it, without changing the standard of identity of the jelly. So what did I do when I got back? I called them and said, I need my share of the grape essence” — a concentrated product that intensified the jelly’s flavor profile. Hardy would go on to find other ways to ensure she and her team received their fair share. She had begun at the plant as a 20-year-old accountant, fresh out of college at the University of Memphis, where she also earned her MBA. To become plant manager, as she made it her mission to do, a mentor told her she would need experience in quality control and in human resources. So in
quality control, she helped modernize the facility’s cook room, adding automation and creating a recipe management system. And to HR, she brought a new style of people management. “I told them that automat-
jars, Hardy watched workers, performing a broader range of duties for the first time, fill with confidence. “Ladies who had never held a wrench before,” she says, “had to now start holding a wrench.” With the jump to 24-hour production, “We demonstrated to the whole company — and the entire Smucker company runs that way today. It was a little woman who wondered if she could be a plant manager, right?” By the time she departed Smucker to plant-manage the Coors brewery in Memphis, Hardy was a sought-after problem-solver hired to deal with issues of labor relations and cost. When Coors announced intentions to close the brewery, Hardy responded by turning in record results — and then buying the facility to launch Hardy Bottling, which she sold in 2009. She’s now president of Chism Hardy Investments, a real-estate firm with an interest in supporting the railroads, and of Henderson Transloading Services, which is responsible for transferring shipments from one mode of transport to another. As we talk, she’s interrupted by a call about a shipment gone awry: A steamship line “sent the wrong box,” she says. Which doesn’t sound like such a big problem, until she mentions that the shipment contains some 40,000 pounds of oil that her team now must move safely. Hardy has thrived as an entrepreneur, by any measure. And she’s thrived as a black woman in a business world dominated by white men. She’s a former chairwoman of the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce, and now chairwoman of the Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle. Change doesn’t happen spontaneously, in Hardy’s experience. “The reason the goals for women and minorities are
“THE REASON THE GOALS FOR WOMEN AND MINORITIES ARE SO IMPORTANT STILL, TO THIS DAY, IS BECAUSE EQUITY IS NOT HAPPENING ON ITS OWN. YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE PEOPLE WHO ARE WILLING TO GIVE OTHER PEOPLE A CHANCE.” ically, I’m going to assume that everybody’s telling the truth.” Hardy recalls. “But if I ever catch you lying, I’ll never trust you again. So they had a lot to lose.” Also during her years with Smucker, she took a two-shift plant to a 24-hour operation. As jams and jellies filled waiting
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Carolyn Hardy, president of Chism Hardy Investments, has thrived in a business world dominated by white men. “Equity is not happening on its own,” she says. “You’ve got to have people who are willing to give other people a chance.” so important still, to this day,” she says, “is because equity is not happening on its own.” In order for true progress to be made, she goes on, “You’ve got to have people who are willing to give other people a chance.” Hardy sees the opportunity to foster greater equity in the business world. “To grow in the way we need to grow,” she says, “it can’t be whether a woman grows, minority grows, or a locally owned small business grows. In an ideal situation, all businesses grow. The challenge that we have in Memphis is that we are not in an ideal situation. “I feel like women and minorities, when we go after something, we have to run up that hill 10 times to ring the bell," she continues. "And the ones who run up that hill all the time, they run up it one time and ring the bell, and then they get to go on to something else.” Hardy thinks in terms of what she calls “the what-if.” What if the jelly plant ran 24 hours a day? What if she owned a brewery? The big what-ifs she asks: What if Memphis were home to one hundred $100 million companies? What if our education system prepared students for the jobs that will be created? She cites a finding that, despite accounting for 68 percent of the population, minority [business revenues] in the Memphis community makes up only 0.83 percent of the Memphis economy. Hardy believes the answers lie in developing more equitable business-to-business relationships. “All of a sudden,” she says, “the whole world starts looking very different. “The pie becomes bigger for everybody — so big we can’t eat it all. “We have to stop going for small goals. Go for large goals. Take a risk. Answer the ‘what if.’” — Anna Traverse A P R I L 2 0 1 8 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 55
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rowing up, Dorsey Hopson says he doesn’t remember thinking much about race. That’s largely because he was brought up around people who looked like him. Hopson’s neighbors, his classmates, his friends, and his parents’ friends were predominantly black. His 1990 Whitehaven High School’s graduating class of 2000 students was almost exclusively African American, he recalls. There were, however, occasional instances of integration, he says. Traveling to white schools across the city for extracurricular activities and sports competitions, Hopson was brought faceto-face with racial tension. “I can recall times when white kids would call me the n-word,” he recounts. “When stuff like that happened, you certainly have to remember, ‘Wow, this is real.’” However, those moments were rare, he admits. “There wasn’t a lot of focus on that.” Hopson was growing up 25 years after the turbulent 1960s, and from where he stood, people were starting to become a lot less race-conscious. But Hopson’s parents grew up in the midst of the fight for Civil Rights — at a time when it was nearly impossible not to think about race. “I think because of the fruits of my parents’ era, we started to see more tangible signs of progress,” he says. “So for me growing up, race was not the focus because you started to feel some equality.” Though he received a quality education (a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mem-
phis and a law degree from Georgia State) and hardly ever felt like he was on the wrong end of inequality, Hopson did grow up in a Memphis that was largely segregated. Now in charge of 207 public schools as the superintendent of the Shelby County Schools system, Hopson says he sees the same segregation
tion in the school system is a reflection of Memphis’ segregated neighborhoods. When a federal court ordered Memphis to integrate schools using busing in 1973, history shows a large number of white families moved from the inner city to the suburbs. The black families stayed in the city, as their neighborhoods and schools lost diversity. The results defined Hopson’s school days and are still evident today. “Given the way school zones work,” he says, “if you have a community full of black and brown folks, then the schools are going to reflect the community makeup.” Hopson says that until there is change in the composition of communities, schools won’t see integration or true diversity. During his tenure as superintendent, he’s noted that the city’s few diverse schools have consistently been the highest achieving. Though the majority of public schools here are still divided along racial and socioeconomic lines, Hopson says equal education for people of color has become significantly more accessible since the Civil Rights movement. “There have been some huge strides made in terms of equity and access for all students,” Hopson says. “I think there’s also been a huge focus on, you know, equality and accountability for all schools.” At a minimum, funding and access to materials and technology has improved, he says. “It used to be the schools with the white kids would use up the books then send them to the black kids,” he says. “So you were just in a perpetual state of having secondhand and inferior materials.” That’s not the case now though, he feels. “Things are improving, but not fast enough.” The impact of the inequity and lack of resources that
“PEOPLE AREN’T OVERTLY RACIST AND INSTITUTIONS ARE NOT OVERTLY DISCRIMINATORY, BECAUSE WE HAVE ALL THESE GREAT LAWS. BUT BECAUSE OF SOME OF THOSE POLICIES IN THE PAST, YOU [STILL] HAVE BIG ECONOMIC DISPARITIES.” he saw almost 30 years ago. “You look at that today — same thing,” he continues. “And you look at that in the 1960s, I’m sure it’s the same thing. We aren’t seeing the progress that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pushed for.” Hopson believes segrega-
plagued schools in communities of color for years is still at work. “You can say that now we are going to treat everybody equally, but we can’t ignore the impact of the years of inequality,” he continues. “I think that’s always going to be tough.” Hopson believes economic segregation is a prevalent problem today in Memphis and around the country. “It just so happens that most people
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on the short end of the economic stick in Memphis are black and brown,” he says. As the country’s economy rebounds, Hopson notes that the poverty rate in Memphis has gone up. Because of the wealth gap in the city, the high poverty rate disproportionately affects people of color, their communities, and schools. “Economic segregation” is what he calls this.
“A big piece of it has to be a continued awareness of what happened in the past and a focused effort to learn from it,” Hopson says. “When you see visible changes like having a black president, people can get lax and say, ‘We don’t need to talk about that anymore; things are all good now.’” Hopson says there has to be intentionality about addressing socioeconomic disparities.
“People aren’t overtly racist and institutions are not overtly discriminatory, because we have all these great laws,” Hopson says. “But because of some of those policies in the past, you [still] have big economic disparities. Dr. King was in the midst of declaring a war on poverty, and now together the nation needs to pick up where he left off. That needs to be the next fight.” — Maya Smith
Dorsey Hopson, superintendent of Shelby County Schools, believes that progress can only come if there is ”a continued awareness of what happened in the past and a focused effort to learn from it.”
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DR. ANDREA MILLER
r. Andrea Miller remembers her parents attending Dr. Martin Luther King’s last speech before he was assassinated the following day at the Lorraine Motel — two miles from the campus of LeMoyne-Owen College, where she was later to study. Miller grew up in South Memphis and is now president of LeMoyne-Owen, the historically black four-year college in north South Memphis. But what she remembers most vividly from that Southern springtime are the riots. “Seeing the National Guard and the tanks ride around in my community: I remember that. That felt very odd, very strange. It didn’t seem real — it reminded me of what you see on TV.” Miller, a trained biologist — after LeMoyne, she received a doctorate in molecular biology at what is now Clark Atlanta University — approached her world, growing up, with a child’s innocence but a scientist’s inquisitiveness. When her father brought her and her brother to the movies at the old Malco Theatre (today, The Orpheum), Miller remembers coming in through a side door. “I used to say to my father,” she recalls, “‘How do the white people get downstairs?’” She asked her mother why no one else was in the doctor’s waiting room: Her mother offered only that the other patients were in a different room. And at the old Southgate Woolco department store, “We always wanted to get milkshakes, something to drink, and my mom would say, ‘Just go to the register — don’t sit at the stools.’” Miller didn’t know why. As she grew older, her ques-
tioning grew more insistent, the realities of racism more glaring. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked. Miller’s parents answered: “You would eventu-
The same philosophy holds true on the LeMoyne campus today. Miller has long wondered about her family’s origin. Neither of her parents could share much history with her — not beyond a few generations. Years ago, working late one night in a campus computer lab in Cincinnati, a foreign student asked her where she was from. “I’m from Memphis,” she answered. No, but where were you from before? “From Memphis,” she repeated. Well, where were your parents from? “Memphis.” “But where are you from, from?” Miller remembers being asked. “I said, I don’t have any idea.” For a time, whenever she met anyone from any country in Africa, Miller would inquire: Look at my face; look at my features — where do you think I’m from? Senegal, Ethiopia? “I could barely tell anybody about my great-grandparents.” She sees part of the role of the historically black college to be filling in the gaps — if not individually, then collectively. From enslavement through the struggle of the Civil Rights movement, “it hasn’t been that long ago, and we have to make sure they understand that.” Once equipped with a deep and broad understanding of history, students will be uniquely prepared to continue the work previous generations began, Miller says. “Here we are, right in the middle of Memphis,” she explains, “in 38126, one of the poorest ZIP codes in the city of Memphis. Most of our students are coming from Shelby County Schools.” If any college is positioned to prepare teachers for the students and the system they’ll encounter, Miller says, it should be LeMoyne. “If we don’t get it, if we don’t understand, who will?” That’s why the college is developing a “center of excellence” in urban teacher education. They’re also undergoing an extensive certification process to open a center of excellence
devoted to cybersecurity. A professor on the faculty has the right background, and the new center would create opportunities for students at the college. And, being located in Memphis, close to Soulsville and Stax, Miller says LeMoyne is on track to create a center for music, arts, and culture, too. When she entered LeMoyne-Owen as a student, Miller says, she and most of
“THAT’S WHAT MAKES LEMOYNEOWEN SO DIFFERENT FROM MAJORITY INSTITUTIONS. WE UNDERSTAND WHERE OUR STUDENTS ARE COMING FROM.” ally learn what was happening. But you would be old enough to understand that it has absolutely nothing to do with you.” Attending historically black schools throughout her own education, Miller believes, contributed to her success not only as a student but as a confident, self-aware person. When she was an undergraduate, in the late 1970s, the Civil Rights movement was not long in the rearview mirror, and so, she says, “It was a good place to be — to reaffirm who you are as a person and to have people who look just like you, and who are doing wonderful things.”
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her peers “came from stable homes, where we had a mother and a father.” Today, many of the college’s students arrive on campus having grown up in homes “where their parents were not much older than they are. They’re experiencing and being exposed to all kinds of things that I never was exposed to.” Understanding the students — the whole students, not solely
their classroom selves — has grown even more vital. “That’s what makes us so different from majority institutions,” says Miller. “We understand where our students are coming from.” She sees how the world around her has operated, but she’s not content to watch it stay that way. Andrea Miller will tell you she gets that approach from growing up during the Civil Rights
movement in Memphis. “Are we a lot better off?” she asks. “Some say we are; some say a little. The movement had a lot of impact on my thinking and my feeling that I’m not limited by anything or anyone, except maybe myself. So many people before us fought for us to have these rights. I do feel a sense of responsibility to that movement, and to the community.” — Anna Traverse
Dr. Andrea Miller, president of LeMoyneOwen College, says that attending historically black colleges throughout her own education contributed to her success, not only as a student, but as a confident, self-aware person.
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ohnny Moore acknowledges that he faced challenges as a young black man pursuing a career in banking. But he’s just as quick to mention advocates who helped his rise, most particularly John Evans, the former president of National Bank of Commerce’s Memphis region who first hired Moore in 1992. “We had an understanding,” says Moore. “He had a specific job for me to do and I had the skills to do it. But if he was only going to hire me for that job, I wasn’t going to take it. To his credit, he moved me around in a couple of areas and, before he retired, to the commercial line of business. No African American had been in our metropolitan lending group. Ever. I couldn’t be average. I had to develop fast.” Since 2009, Moore has occupied the same position Evans once did. (NBC and SunTrust merged in 2004.) Moore grew up in Orange Mound, one of five siblings in a two-parent household. As he recalls, there were photos of two men in nearly every neighborhood home he visited: Dr. Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy. “As a kid,” says Moore, “I was kind of sheltered from [the Civil Rights movement]. There weren’t a lot of political views in our house. My parents were just trying to provide a decent living and raise five kids. But I knew about the sanitation strike. You may not have known all the details, but you knew the importance of having a union to protect your rights.” A defensive end at Rhodes College (where he graduated in 1988 with a degree in business administration), Moore took that first job with the same competitive edge that earned him all-conference honors
with the Lynx. “If you compete against me, I’m gonna try to win,” he stresses. “That’s how I’m wired. Competing
business, but this only means new challenges for young people of color — any color — interested in building a career. “There are more African Americans in the business,” notes Moore, “and there’s more African-American representation on boards. We’re making progress. But there aren’t a lot of African-American market presidents.” (SunTrust has three regional presidents in Tennessee.) A finance degree — particularly one in accounting — is all but required today for a meaningful career in banking. “People are getting into banking every day,” says Moore. “You’re going to need a 3.5 GPA from a good school to be hired, white or black. It’s competitive. And at some point, you’re going to have to sell. How well are you interacting with people, especially people of a different race. Given the distribution of wealth, you’ve got to be able to cross over. There’s competition; more foreign students are competing for those jobs.” Moore smiles in reflecting on the state of the Civil Rights movement today. How easy it might be to agree that we’ve made it, having elected the country’s first African-American president. But there’s still pioneering to do, still new doors to open. “Even in 2018,” says Moore, “there are a lot of things in my career where I’ve been the first African American to do it. There are so many frontiers where we haven’t cracked the surface yet. It’s hard to do. People are not just hateful, they’re not. But people are creatures of habit. “If you’re in a position to hire people, you’re going to hire people you’re comfortable with. You hang out with them at church, you go to the country club, you go to sporting events. It becomes your lens. It’s hard to get outside your comfort zone. How do we get people to mix, to learn from each other,
“IT’S NOT SO MUCH RACISM, THAT MAY EXIST. BUT HOW DO WE HELP PEOPLE GET A DECENT WAGE, DEVELOP A FAMILY STRUCTURE, PROVIDE KIDS WITH GUIDANCE THEY NEED? SO THEY CAN ENHANCE THEIR EDUCATIONAL SKILLS AND COMPETE IN TODAY’S WORLD.” in athletics has spilled over into my professional career.” The culture of the banking industry has changed over Moore’s quarter-century in the
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knock down stereotypes?” As for the future of the movement, Moore says we must look toward the executive suite, but start in the classroom. “We’ve got to figure out how to get more African Americans in senior roles,” he says. “Then when you’re hiring, you’ve got people from different cultures and backgrounds making those choices. It would be a more balanced approach to developing people. “It’s a problem of haves and have-nots. When you have people working two and three jobs just to provide for their family, then nobody’s there to take care of the kids. The kids have no framework for how to be successful. If they can’t read by third grade, the likelihood of their being a concern later on is very high. “It’s not so much racism,” he continues. “That may exist. But how do we help people get a decent wage, develop a family structure, provide kids with guidance they need? So they can enhance their educational skills and compete in today’s world. The only way you can go from a ‘have-not’ to a ‘have’ is with an education.” Moore emphasizes that careers can be built without a college education, but there must be a foundation. “There are a lot of jobs that pay well,” he says. “When I call a plumber or an HVAC guy, they’re not cheap. But you’ve got to have the basic education to gain the qualifications to be a licensed plumber. College isn’t going to happen for everybody, but if they have a fundamental education that allows them to work a single job and develop their family, that’s how you change.” — Frank Murtaugh
President of SunTrust Bank since 2009, Johnny Moore believes, “We’ve got to get African Americans in more senior roles in this industry. Then you’ve got people from different cultures and backgrounds making choices.“ A P R I L 2 0 1 8 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 61
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alking to school with her eight siblings in Jackson, Mississippi, in the 1960s, Mearl Purvis says they learned to avoid a certain street in their neighborhood. “We never really knew fear in the segregated South, until we came to one street — the white street.” Her older brothers would pick up the little ones and run, “because homeowners would send the dogs out. It happened almost every day.” Today, however, sitting in the studio of WHBQ Fox 13, where she has been an anchor for 13 years, she looks back on that incident as a lesson in love, not hate. “That experience helped me understand the brilliance of my parents,” she says, “who taught me you can’t let hate eat you up from the inside out.” An older brother always threatened to “go back” and get even with those white kids, “who would laugh as the dogs chased us down the street,” but Purvis’ parents knew better. Her mother told her, “If you try to fight someone using their weapon of hate or revenge or malice, you’ve already lost. Those are their weapons, and they can use them much better than you will ever know how.” Purvis earned a degree in broadcast journalist from Jackson State University and began working at a local TV station that had been hit with a discrimination lawsuit. “As the stories go, they would call women ‘gals’ in interviews, or worse terms on-air,” she says, so as part of the settlement the FCC made the station acquire an integrated owner-
ship group. The station manager also created internships, “which I suppose was to begin filling the pipeline with black journalists,” says Purvis. “I got that first internship, and the
“DON’T BE SHOCKED BY RACISM, BUT SIMPLY WORK YOUR WAY THROUGH IT. TRY TO BE THE BEST — ALWAYS STRIVE TO BE THE BEST. EXCELLENCE IS GOING TO RISE TO THE TOP. ALWAYS.” rest, as they say, is history.” She took reporting and anchor jobs in Charlotte, Nashville, and the New Haven, Connecticut, area before coming to
didn’t see that companies were earning millions and billions of dollars, or the people who designed our economic structure were taking many jobs away. But it was the Jim Crow way of thinking that what little crumbs I have are going to be eaten by these other people, the African Americans, so we must go after them.” So here’s her message — the same one she learned from her parents: “Don’t be shocked by racism, but simply work your way through it. Try to be the best — always strive to be the best. Excellence is going to rise to the top. Always.” And she is very hopeful about the future of race relations in America. She recently wrapped up a Fox 13 segment about Dr. Martin Luther King, where she talked with the Reverend Jesse Jackson at the National Civil Rights Museum. Standing on the balcony, on the very spot where King was slain, was a very moving experience, and she asked if King would think his dream had been realized today. Jackson replied, she says, this way: “He’d be very happy to see African Americans elected to school boards, to leadership positions, serving as mayors of cities, or members of congress. And I think he’d be most proud of young people today, who are standing up and saying, ‘This has to change!’” His words gave her inspiration, Purvis says. “As the Reverend Jackson told me, ‘Hope and healing will beat hate every time.’” — Michael Finger
Mearl Purvis, one of the best-known anchors in Memphis television history, got her start here at WMC-TV Channel 5 before moving to WHBQ Fox 13, where she has been the news anchor for 13 years. She recalls what her parents taught her: “You can’t let hate eat you up from the inside out.“
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Memphis in 1992. Her first job here was replacing the popular Kim Hindrew as the news anchor at WMC-TV Channel 5. After just a few weeks on-air, she had an unsettling experience: “A white colleague said to me, ‘You know, we saw Kim as one of us, but we are really taking to you now. We have never had a dark-skinned anchor.’” And at that moment,” says Purvis, “I thought, you don’t even understand that what you said is rooted in racism? I was flabbergasted that she wasn’t even aware of it.” Hindrew has very light skin; many WMC viewers thought she was white, or even Asian. “Kim has lovely walnut skin, but she is definitely an African American, and she is race-proud,” says Purvis, “but people — and I mean whites and blacks — still make a distinction about the shade of your skin.” Purvis was recently invited to speak to a church group about the topic of lightskinned and dark-skinned African Americans. “They wanted to know, has it made a difference in your life?” The answer, she says, is yes. “And I wonder very often, are we ever, ever going to change? But we would have to change human nature, and human nature is what it is.” As a journalist, Purvis has dealt with all manner of people, and her attitude towards race relations may be surprising. “I don’t see why there’s so much shock and surprise when you run into racism today,” she says. “Human nature dictates that humans seek a means of survival, and the fear of ‘losing your spot’ will make a person react in a way that could offend some, and hurt others.” Purvis recognizes that African Americans were perceived as being in the way of progress of whites in the South. “They
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esiree Robinson has a wish. “When it comes to the end of my days, I want to have eaten in every restaurant in this city and surrounding areas,” she says. In 1977, Robinson’s husband, the late Raymond Robinson, opened the barbecue restaurant Cozy Corner on North Parkway near Manassas. Back then, she says, African-American-owned restaurants in Memphis served either soul food or barbecue. Today, Robinson is 80 and still works at the restaurant. She says she still sees a lot of African-American-owned restaurants in town selling barbecue and soul food. She and her family, most of whom work at Cozy Corner, eat dinner at a restaurant every Sunday and she frequents both whiteand black-owned restaurants. Her husband originally wasn’t interested in opening
got a job at Martin Marietta Materials. He opened Ray’s Barbecue in the Mile-High City because friends raved about his barbecue. That restaurant lasted several years until the Robinsons decided to move back to Memphis. Originally, Desiree went to work at AT&T and her husband ran the restaurant. “I wanted him to open it because he was more outgoing than I was,” she says. “He never met a person he didn’t like and didn’t like him. He was so very friendly and so outgoing. And then he was an excellent cook. I knew that if he stayed here and worked in the business it would gain prominence quicker.” Over the years, another pit and more menu items were added to Cozy Corner. The restaurant survived a fire and the business moved across the street into much smaller quarters until the original restaurant reopened. Now, four generations of her family work at the restau-
“I THINK ALL YOUNG PEOPLE — THE MILLENNIALS AND GEN-XERS — HAVE JUST BEEN EXPOSED TO DIFFERENT TYPES OF FOOD, DIFFERENT TYPES OF CULTURE.” a restaurant, Robinson says. He wanted to be a businessman and didn’t care what type of business. But he also was a great cook and did a lot of backyard barbecuing. The couple moved from Memphis to Denver after he
rant, Robinson says. “It’s a fun thing. I like to come to work because I enjoy being with the folk I greet. And most of my family works in here. I get to see family I wouldn’t have seen until the weekend probably. I enjoy the camaraderie.” There were several restaurants owned by African Ameri-
cans when her husband opened Cozy Corner, says Robinson. She believes the Civil Rights movement was why more black people opened them. “I really think it had a lot to do with folks feeling free to do things that they had not previously felt free to do,” she says. “You felt free to try it anyway
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In 1977 Desiree Robinson and her husband, Raymond, opened the Cozy Corner restaurant, and now “everybody under the sun comes in here,” she says. “If this room was full right now, half of the people would be races other than black.”
and see if it would work.” White people didn’t frequent some African-American-owned restaurants. “I always felt that they weren’t sure if they were welcome,” she says. By contrast, Cozy Corner served mostly white people when the restaurant opened, Robinson says. “For the first five
years, the bulk of our business was white. Our family came. Eventually, blacks started coming in little by little. This was quite a while ago and I don’t think they really could tell what race of people were running the restaurant. The customers were white. My mother-in-law, you could not
tell what race she was. My husband was light-skinned. We had a few employees at that point in time that were white.” Now, she says, “Everybody under the sun comes in here. If this room was full right now, half of the people would be races other than black.” And, she says, “Half the
people would be people outside of Memphis because they love to come in and tell us how they found out about us. We have never advertised.” Cynthia Daniels, creator of Memphis Black Restaurant Week, which celebrates African-American-owned restaurants, says, “I do feel like soul food and barbecue are staples in the community, but there are other types of restaurants out there.” This year’s Memphis Black Restaurant Week, which celebrated its third anniversary in March, included Scoops Parlor, which sells crepes and gelatos; G. Alston, a fine dining restaurant; Slice of Soul Pizza Lounge; and Two Vegan Sistas. “For me, one of the reasons I did Restaurant Week was the variety of restaurants in the African-American community,” Daniels says. In the past, soul food and barbecue restaurants were about the only kind of African-American restaurants because, Daniels says, “You grew up in your city and that’s what it was. You didn’t get out of your community sometimes.” And now? “It’s a generational thing. We’ve grown up with the technology, the ability to travel more. I think all young people — the millennials and gen-Xers — have just been exposed to different types of food, different types of culture.” Times really are changing. That’s why the younger generation tries different types of things. How many African-American restaurants now are in Memphis? “I’d say 100 all over Memphis,” Daniels says. — Michael Donahue
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tis Sanford may be as close to a paragon of black success in Memphis and Shelby County as you can find. And as Sanford sees it, the racial situation of Memphis and Shelby County can be measured, essentially, by the historical poles of Crump and Trump. Ed “Boss” Crump had ruled the city with an iron hand for 50 or so years, right up to his death in 1954, a scant few months after Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court case that was the true beginning of the Civil Rights revolution in America. And the national influence of President Donald Trump, Sanford believes, has re-introduced certain polarities and squelched what might have been a genuinely “post-racial” period in Memphis history — one characterized by the electoral victories of A C Wharton, an African American, in winning both a county and a city mayoralty and Steve Cohen, a white, in establishing himself in a majority-black congressional district. Even given the reality of a backlash of sorts, though, Sanford, a native of northern Mississippi, who experienced most of the extreme manifestations of racism practiced in the Magnolia State while growing up, believes that the way is now clear for blacks to succeed, more or less according to the limits of their ability. “If you do things I have done, play the game the right way, work your way up from smaller opportunities to ever larger opportunities, work hard and learn from your mistakes, and try to understand the community, I don’t see any impedi-
ments,” Sanford declares, sitting in a conference room in the Meeman Journalism Building at the University of Memphis, where he holds the Hardin
ly newspaper of which he came within an ace of being the editor. That he didn’t achieve that perch Sanford attributes more to a sense that the powersthat-be at Scripps-Howard, the paper’s ruling chain at the time, wanted to transition from the hard-driving regime of Angus McEachran, his mentor and predecessor, than to any reservations they had about his race. Noting that the death of Boss Crump, in October 1954, followed so close upon Brown v. Board of Education in May, Sanford says that the origins of a historical sea change were observable already in the late outlook of Crump. “Black folks didn’t support him like they previously had. His choices had gotten licked in the 1948 election results, locally and statewide and even in the presidential election, where he’d backed Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond,” he says. “And he was chastened by that and learned from it. I believe he understood that the black community had evolved from a leadership that had to ask him for favors to one which arose mainly from the legal community — Russell Sugarmon, Ben Hooks, H.T. Lockard, Ben Jones — figures who demanded change.” Crump worked hard to reelect Frank Clement, his last major political protégé, as governor, in the August 1954 Democratic primary, then, worn-out and fully expended, died, ending an era. And, ironically, Clement, like Memphis Mayor Edmund Orgill and other white figures of the time, was suspended in a limbo between a time of white domination and rising African-American numbers and political power, unwilling to swear to the old faith and unable to fully speak to the new, more inclusive one. “Orgill for example, was progressive up to a point, but he was not willing to be a spokesman for desegregation.”
“IF YOU DO THINGS I HAVE DONE, PLAY THE GAME THE RIGHT WAY, WORK YOUR WAY UP FROM SMALLER OPPORTUNITIES TO EVER LARGER OPPORTUNITIES, WORK HARD AND LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES, AND TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE COMMUNITY, I DON’T SEE ANY IMPEDIMENTS.” Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism. Sanford, of course, is the author of the well-received history, From Boss Crump to King Willie. He also is the resident political commentator of WREG-TV News Channel 3 and writes a weekly column for The Commercial Appeal, the metropolitan dai-
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Otis Sanford, with long experience in the print and broadcast news business, today holds the University of Memphis Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism.
It took black power itself, assisted by the courts, to break the impasse and usher in a time of relatively even-handed politics — one symbolized by the victory of Harold Ford Sr. for Congress in 1974 and by Willie Herenton for mayor in 1991, as well as by full participation by blacks in city and county service and preeminence in certain fields, like public education. Sanford sees that wave of outright black political prominence as having subsided somewhat, and is not entirely regretful. “We don’t need to go back down that road to purely racial politics. Blacks have always been more supportive of whites than whites have of blacks.” But he also thinks that sentiment is beginning to crest once again among African Americans for a symbolic figure at the top of some major political office. He sees Cohen enduring in the congressional sphere and Jim Strickland as likely to be re-elected; so that new black avatar might, by process of elimination, have to be Lee Harris, the likely winner of the Democratic primary for Shelby County Mayor this year, who will doubtless contend against the winner of a three-way Republican battle-royale primary. And Harris, a crossover type with a smooth professional gloss, is precisely the kind of political figure who will usher in the next phase of Memphis and Shelby County politics, Sanford believes. That is, if the throwback white populism of Donald Trump, evident in such Trumpian figures as mayoral candidate Terry Roland locally and Senatorial aspirant Marsha Blackburn statewide, don’t predominate instead. — Jackson Baker
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MELVIN CHARLES SMITH
he church has always been the hope of a people,” says the Reverend Melvin Charles Smith. Having grown up in the 1940s and 1950s in South Memphis, Smith experienced how the church worked in the center of the African-American community. “It pushed for education, for intellect, for stability. It was a place where we got inspiration to be liberated from the atrocities of life.” His parents were vigilant in segregated Memphis, making sure he was protected. “Life was fun for me, for my brothers and sisters; we had a good time,” he says. “Life was that way as long as we were in our community. Our churches, our schools, our entertainment, our businesses were in our community.” And the ethos of this church-school-community life was purposeful. “You had to be prepared when the day came that you’re ready to accept your assignment in life,” Smith says. “Make sure you’re ready when the glory comes that you can go in and be a part of it. We were taught preparation. We were taught prevention. We were taught to be very, very positive. That was my era of life and that’s how we were able to then blend with Dr. King, and work with Dr. King because we were ready for this.” Smith is sitting in his office at the Mt. Moriah-East Baptist Church where he’s led his congregation since 1967. Certificates and citations adorn the walls, testimony to his life as a preacher and his life of devotion to community. He’s initiated health-awareness programs at his church, has graduated from
Leadership Memphis, is on the board of trustees of Memphis Theological Seminary, and founded the Mt. Moriah-East Development Corporation. He remembers that at age 15, he got a job mopping floors at
ways. It was such an eye-opener to me that I was disturbed at my family for a moment. ‘Treat everybody right, they gonna treat you right.’ I got out there and that didn’t happen. I wondered why they taught me this.” Smith studied science and would eventually go to work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where he was a senior technologist working in virology and immunology. It was the first place he worked where he was called “Mister Smith.” “Everybody was treated at St. Jude with great dignity and great respect,” he says. “The medical director, Dr. Don Pinkel, made sure of that.” While doing this work, he also worked on his ministry. From the time he was a 19-year-old freshman at LeMoyne-Owen College, he knew he was called to the church. He worked as an assistant to the Reverend Samuel Billy Kyles. Eventually, he left St. Jude to devote full time to the ministry. He was in the protest march on March 28, 1968 — the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last march — that turned violent. Then, days later at the moment King was assassinated, Smith was on his way to do a funeral that had to be shortened to accommodate the citywide curfew. The period following the assassination was a test for churches. Even after the violence that immediately broke out had faded, the social upheaval continued. Churches at the center of the African-American communities that were committed to King’s teachings of nonviolence had their work cut out for them. The leadership that had worked with King led the way. “They knew how to come together to keep things going,” Smith says. “Even though our leader was gone, he had implanted something into the hearts of those who were around him, how to
move on, and they did that.” The road ahead would be difficult. “The early 1970s began to show a little sense of improvement, a slight sense of unity, a slight sense of compassion and understanding,” Smith says. “Very slight, but at least it was there. For a while, in my mind, I
“EVEN THOUGH OUR LEADER WAS GONE, HE HAD IMPLANTED SOMETHING INTO THE HEARTS OF THOSE WHO WERE AROUND HIM, HOW TO MOVE ON, AND THEY DID THAT.” the old John Gaston Hospital. “That was my introduction to the wider world,” he says, “when I would hear a grown man being called ‘boy,’ a grown woman being called ‘girl,’ being spoken to in very disrespectful
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was really thinking that America is going to be a place where everybody’s feeling comfortable. That didn’t last too long.” Even so, the mission of churches in the community aimed to continue, to stay relevant in the lives of the people. “That, to me, requires
addressing the whole person, not just Sunday morning, but other programs that will inspire and encourage people to be all they can be,” he says. “Here at Mt. Moriah-East, we work hard on the preventive side, not only preventive in health, but preventive in getting away
from things that will cause you to have problems in life.” In other words, continue to teach the virtues not only of religion, but self-protection, education, a good work ethic, being a better person. “Make it do something for you,” Smith says. — Jon W. Sparks
As pastor of Mt. Moriah-East Baptist Church, the Reverend Melvin Charles Smith says his congregation works hard on the preventive side, “not only in health, but preventive in getting away from things that will cause you to have problems in life.”
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n a way, transforming South City – the area around what used to be Foote Homes – into something new is a return to the past for Archie Willis. He grew up there with his mother, four siblings, and his father, Archie Walter “A.W.” Willis. Back then, South City was predominantly black and that was predominantly because of segregation. Segregation also made South City a mixed-income neighborhood. “We had all kinds of neighbors,” Willis says. “There were other professionals [like Willis’ father, a lawyer] and there were laborers, and teachers — just all sorts of professions. We all lived together and went to school together and went shopping together.” This all changed after the 1950s. Those who could afford to move away did just that. When public housing moved in, South City (and other neigh-
Homes. There will be a vibrant collection of apartment buildings with stores, green space, and community amenities. And hopefully these will bring back that mixed-income structure that Willis remembers from his youth. “[The mixed-income model] provides a means of both mentoring and support, and opportunities for folks who may not be on the same economic scale to actually see other people in the neighborhood and interact with other people who are doing different kinds of things,” Willis says. “It goes back to what we had in the past, so it’s difficult sometimes to make that a reality. Hopefully, in South City we can bring back some of that.” That theme — the past informing the present and the future — has been a common one through Willis’ career, it seems. Ernest Withers took the photo that hangs close to Willis’ desk in the Midtown office of his company, ComCap Partners. It shows several men in suits standing around a judge’s bench, trying to
“[THE MIXED-INCOME NEIGBORHOOD MODEL] PROVIDES A MEANS OF BOTH MENTORING AND SUPPORT, AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR FOLKS WHO MAY NOT BE ON THE SAME ECONOMIC SCALE TO INTERACT.” borhoods like it) became a “sea of poverty.” Gone was the middle class that could provide support and help to neighbors. But when South City comes back over the next five years, it won’t look like the rows of brown institutional shelters that stand vacant now at Foote
convince the judge to release some Civil Rights activists who had been arrested during a sit-in at a Memphis library. Benjamin Hooks stands in the middle with his hand on the judge’s desk. Standing close to him is a very young, bespectacled A.W. Willis. A.W. Willis is remembered for many things, for working to desegregate the Memphis City Schools, and for being the first
African American elected to the Tennessee General Assembly since Reconstruction. He also gave his son, Archie Willis, his start in real estate. Willis got his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California and his MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. When he came back home to Memphis in 1981, he started with his father’s firm, Supreme Mortgage and Realty
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Always interested in affordable housing, Archie Willis launched Community Capital (now ComCap Partners) “to bridge the gap between what was happening in the neighborhoods with resources available in the capital markets.”
Co. His first task? Developing a 22-unit apartment building and office space in the then-desolate South Main neighborhood. “My dad was a bit of a visionary and he was pretty good at being ahead of his time in many respects,” Willis says. “So, we developed the apartment building that’s on the corner of what’s now MLK Boulevard and Main Street.” Though he admits that he
“really didn’t know what I was doing at the time,” Willis also admits that his father’s vision paid off. South Main with its Chisca Hotel and the long stretch of empty South Main warehouses has been converted into one of the hottest real estate markets in Memphis. Archie’s father passed away in 1988 at age 63, leaving no real transition plan for the business. So Willis went to work
for Morgan Keegan, working in public financing. He worked with government clients like the City of Memphis and others in Atlanta and Jackson, Mississippi. Many of those clients worked with Willis on affordable housing, which he says is an issue that is “in my heart.” “I was introduced to [affordable housing issues] back with my dad. Even then, you could see the great need and
it’s one that hasn’t been really addressed X number of years later,” Willis says. “Back then, we had totally segregated neighborhoods and African Americans were in a difficult time and in need of financing for home ownership.” After many years with Morgan Keegan, Willis was able to do something else close to his heart: he started his own company. Growing up, entrepreneurship was natural, he says. His family knew so many people who owned their own businesses. “My goal was to get back into the space of affordable housing, and to be able to control my own destiny without having to work within an organized structure,” Willis says. He launched Community Capital in 1999. The name was chosen, Willis says, to reflect his goal of bridging the gap “between what was happening in the neighborhoods and communities with resources available in the capital market.” The company rebranded as ComCap Partners in 2016. Willis has built and rebuilt plenty of Memphis through his company. He helped The Works CDC build the Alpha Renaissance Apartments in South Memphis and teamed up with Memphis developers Henry Turley and Belz Enterprises to rebuild Uptown. He’s helped to flip so much of the city’s old housing projects into those mixed-income developments he likes, just like what is planned for South City. He’s also working with Turley to transform Central Station, the city’s 104-year-old train station, into apartments, a hotel, and a campus that includes green spaces, transportation options, and a seven-screen Malco theater. — Toby Sells
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31 HOURS, I 28 MINUTES
Ernest C. Withers, American, 1922 – 2007, I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, Memphis, March 28, 1968. Gelatin silver print, printed from original negative in 1999, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art purchase with funds provided by Ernest and Dorothy Withers, Panopticon Gallery, Inc., Waltham, MA, Landon and Carol Butler, The Deupree Family Foundation, and The Turley Foundation 2005.3.33 © Withers Family Trust
n his final years, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had death on his mind.
While watching news coverage of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, he turned to his wife, Coretta, and
A MINUTE-BY-MINUTE ACCOUNT OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING’S LAST HOURS IN MEMPHIS. by michael finger
told her, “This is what is going to happen to me.” All his adult life, this practitioner of nonviolence had been threatened, assaulted, and surrounded by people — most of them white, some of them black — who considered him their enemy. The FBI routinely released memos documenting his activities, with the heading “Martin Luther King — Communist.” Andrew Young, one of the leaders of the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference, observed that King had questioned “fundamental patterns of American life” and had therefore “become the enemy” to many Americans.
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BLACK RESISTANCE: ERNEST C. WITHERS AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT an exhibition on display at memphis brooks museum of art through august 19, 2018 Beginning in the 1950s, Ernest Withers (1922-2007) photographed black resistance in Memphis — from pickets and sit-ins to courtroom scenes. Among his most famous images are those documenting the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Although earlier protests are included, this exhibition focuses on and commemorates the 50th anniversary of the events from March 27 through April 8, 1968. A wall of sanitation workers carrying “I AM A MAN” placards and police in riot gear on the 28th; Dr. King returning to Memphis on the 3rd; giving his historic “Mountaintop” speech at Mason Temple; and the memorial march to City Hall on the 8th are among his evocative, iconic images. A half century after these events and their documentation, it is clear that these photographs are not only a part of our city’s visual memory, but belong to the whole world. Ernest C. Withers, American, 1922 – 2007, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Reverend Abernathy, Day Before Assassination, Memphis Airport, April 3, 1968. Gelatin silver print, printed from original negative in 1999, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art purchase with funds provided by Ernest and Dorothy Withers, Panopticon Gallery, Inc., Waltham, MA, Landon and Carol Butler, The Deupree Family Foundation, and The Turley Foundation 2005.3.5 © Withers Family Trust
So as he headed to Memphis in the spring of 1968, to hold what he phis on April 3rd, to salvage his reputation and show the world that he hoped would be a peaceful demonstration in support of the sanitation could indeed preach the gospel of nonviolence with a second march on April 8th, a bomb threat delayed his flight. Ralph Abernathy, his workers’ strike here, King knew his life was in grave danger. “There’s second-in-command at the SCLC, reassured him, “Nobody is going no way in the world you can keep somebody from killing you,” he told to kill you, Martin,” but King still seemed deeply troubled. Later that a reporter, “if they really want to kill you.” And he knew Memphis would be a challenge. The sanitation strike day, however, he told supporters, “I would rather be dead than afraid.” had dragged on into its fifth week, and the situation seemed hopeless. Then came his famous speech that blustery evening of April 3, 1968, at Jerry Wurf, international head of the American Federation of State, Mason Temple. With the wind howling outside and banging the shutters County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) had complained bitterly, around the packed auditorium, he seemed to pause and reflect for a few “I spent half my time trying to keep that city from burning down, seconds, then said, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevwhile the god-damned mayor was pouring ity has its place. But I’m not concerned about gasoline on the situation as I ran around that now. I just want to do God’s will. And NOTE: Historical accounts sometimes He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. pulling matches out of people’s hands.” vary, so some times are approximate. King’s supporters had dire premoniAnd I have seen the promised land. I may not Sources: Michael Honey, Driving Down tions. On the night following the dreadful get there with you. But I want you to know Jericho Road; Joan Turner Beifuss, At the tonight, that we as a people will get to the riot of March 28th, the Rev. James JorRiver I Stand; Gerald Posner, Killing the promised land . . .” dan, pastor of historic Beale Street Baptist Dream; Hampton Sides, Hellhound on Within 24 hours, he would be felled by Church, woke up in tears. He later told His Trail; and newspaper files archived friends that he’d had a nightmare: “Dr. an assassin’s bullet. On these pages we in the 1968 Sanitation Workers Strike King’s picture came before me. I saw the present the storm of events that surroundCollection at the Ned McWherter Lord had shown me Dr. King’s death.” ed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his final Library, University of Memphis. When King decided to return to Memhours in Memphis. A P R I L 2 0 1 8 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 73
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11:30 a.m. — Still trailed by the MPD’s Redditt and Richmond, Jones drives King and Lawson to the Lorraine Motel, 406 Mulberry, where he checks into Room 306 — a fact that is reported in the newspapers and on television broadcasts. King is determined to stay at the black-owned motel, after being chastised by the Memphis black newspapers when he retreated to the Holiday Inn Rivermont to escape the riots that disrupted the March 28th demonstration. 11:45 a.m. — White police detective Don Smith and other MPD officers tell black officers Redditt and Richmond they are no longer needed at the Lorraine. Smith says “he will take it from there.” Sometime later in the afternoon, the MPD leaves the Lorraine, claiming they had been asked to do so by the SCLC staff — something that King’s associates vehemently deny. Richmond relocates across the street to Fire Station #2, 484 South Main, where he monitors the people coming and going at the Lorraine through a slit in the station’s papered-over windows. Redditt, given no specific assignment, remains in the area. 12 noon — King and Abernathy enjoy a catfish lunch at the Lorraine Motel’s grill. 12 noon — The Rev. Frank McRae, a district superintendent of the Methodist Church, lunches with Mayor Henry Loeb in City Hall to discuss the King situation: “I kept saying, ‘Henry, you’re sitting on a powder keg. Please realize this.’” Loeb refuses to compromise his position that the strike — any strike by government employees — is illegal.
Ernest C. Withers, American, 1922 – 2007, Martin Luther King, Jr. - Speech at the Mason Temple, April 3, 1968, Gelatin silver print, printed from original negative in 1999, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art purchase with funds provided by Ernest and Dorothy Withers, Panopticon Gallery, Inc., Waltham, MA, Landon and Carol Butler, The Deupree Family Foundation, and The Turley Foundation 2005.3.39 © Withers Family Trust
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3RD 10:33 a.m. — Dr. Martin Luther King arrives at the Memphis airport, along with other SCLC leaders, including Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young, Bernard Lee, and Dorothy Young. The Rev. James Lawson, pastor of Memphis’ Centenary United Methodist Church and a nationally renowned civil rights leader, meets him at the gate. King is told that a Circuit Court judge has issued an injunction blocking the march proposed for Monday, April 8th. “Martin fell silent,” says Abernathy. “Nothing was going right.”
10:50 a.m. — Four members of the Memphis Police Department (MPD) — among them black undercover officers Ed Redditt and Willie Richmond — also show up at the airport and tell King’s entourage they will escort them through the city. Lawson ignores them, but the police follow along anyway. 11:00 a.m. — Solomon Jones, a driver provided by R.S. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home, takes King to Lawson’s church at 584 E. McLemore for a brief strategy meeting to discuss the march that is scheduled for April 8th.
12:40 p.m. — Circuit Court Judge Bailey Brown tells King attorneys Louis Lucas and Walter Bailey that he will present a temporary restraining order preventing King (or anybody else) “from organizing or leading a parade or march in the city of Memphis.” If he doesn’t comply, King will be jailed for contempt of court. Also representing King in court that afternoon are Memphis attorneys Lucius Burch, Michael Cody, Charles Newman, and David Caywood, among others. 1:00 p.m. — Attorneys Burch, Cody, Newman, and Caywood drive to Lawson’s church with a copy of the restraining order issued by Judge Brown, but discover King has already left. They confer with attorneys Bailey and Lucas and agree to join forces and represent King and the SCLC. They drive to the Lorraine Motel. 1:30 p.m. — Rev. Frank McRae convenes a meeting at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church between members of the city’s black and white clergy. The conciliatory atmosphere
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deteriorates immediately when Temple Israel’s Rabbi James Wax says, “We need to limit this discussion to find out what the issues are.” Another minister remembers that prominent NAACP leader and AME pastor Ralph Jackson “just came unwound, saying, ‘I thought at long last my white brothers had decided to help their poor black brothers. You not only tricked me, you insult me by saying what we’re going to discuss is what the issues are. . . . We’ve had 1,300 starving families. That’s the issue.’” An older white minister tries to maintain order and begins, “Now, my dear brethren, you’ve got to be Christian about this. We must love. If our ‘nigra’ brethren …” He is cut off by the Rev. Ezekiel Bell, pastor of Parkway Gardens Presbyterian Church, who lectures him, “The word N-E-G-R-O is not nigra, it’s ‘knee-grow.’ You ministers talk about love, and black people can’t even get into the doors of your churches.” After an hour of bickering, the meeting comes to an end. 2:00 p.m. — Burch and his fellow attorneys meet King at the Lorraine Motel. Burch says, “I wanted to be sure myself that these people were who they purported to be.” King tells Burch that if the injunction is not lifted, he will hold a march anyway: “His whole future depended on having a nonviolent march in Memphis.” 4:00 p.m. — King meets with Charles Cabbage, a self-styled leader of the militant group called the Invaders, at the Lorraine Motel. King wants reassurance that the Invaders will not disrupt his second march, though there is still debate if they were responsible for the rioting and looting that disrupted the protest on March 28th. King wants Cabbage to provide 25 marshals to monitor the march set for April 8th. Cabbage is there for a different reason: He wants the SCLC to provide funding for his Black Organizing Project (BOP). An FBI informant reports that the BOP is “uncontrollable, unpredictable, contentious, avaricious, and attempting to con the SCLC out of operating funds.” 5:00 p.m. — King steps into the Lorraine Motel driveway to receive the official injunction from a federal marshal. A news photographer captures him laughing at the incident. Historian Michael Honey explains King’s reaction: “It seemed absurd to think a court injunction at this point could stop the huge march being planned for Memphis.” 5:15 p.m. — King continues to discuss the injunction with the attorneys in his motel
Ernest C. Withers, American, 1922 – 2007, Memorial March After Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Main Street, Memphis, April 8, 1968. Gelatin silver print, printed from original negative in 1999, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art purchase with funds provided by Ernest and Dorothy Withers, Panopticon Gallery, Inc., Waltham, MA, Landon and Carol Butler, The Deupree Family Foundation, and The Turley Foundation 2005.3.41 © Withers Family Trust
room. Abernathy joins them and brings catfish dinner from the motel café. 6:00 p.m. — Burch returns to court to schedule a hearing on the injunction for the following morning. He and his attorneys, along with Bailey and Lucas, then return to the Burch, Porter, and Johnson law offices in the old Tennessee Club building downtown to work on getting the injunction lifted. Burch says later, “The white community didn’t realize that Martin Luther King was the best friend anybody had. He was the answer to the fire bombing and he was the answer to the looting and he was the answer to Black Power.” The lawyers work until 3:00 a.m. and finally go home. “Except for Burch,” remembers Bailey. “I think he slept in his office.” 6:00 p.m. — Thunderstorms begin to move into Memphis from Arkansas.
7:00 p.m. — More than 3,000 sanitation workers and supporters of the strike gather at Mason Temple, 930 Mason Street, hoping to hear King speak, though he is not scheduled to appear until the following evening. King, nursing a sore throat, remains at the Lorraine, but Ralph Abernathy calls him and tells him to come tonight: “I had sense enough to know that this was not my crowd.” 7:15 p.m. — James Earl Ray, described by one biographer as “a habitual criminal, at war with society, hopelessly alone,” arrives in Memphis, driving a white Mustang (some sources say it was actually faded yellow). He checks into the Rebel Motel, 3466 Lamar, and signs the register as Eric S. Galt. Desk clerk Henrietta Hagemaster assigns him to Room 34.
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7:30 p.m. — Tornado sirens begin moaning across the city.
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9:00 p.m. — King arrives at Mason Temple and receives a standing ovation. Abernathy gives him a 25-minute introduction, complete with jokes and stories. Another minister chastises him: “We thought you weren’t going to make a speech. Didn’t you know that they came to hear Martin?” 9:30 p.m. — King begins his famous “Mountaintop” speech, beginning by noting, “Something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world.” He also tells about the time a woman walked up to him in a department store and stabbed him in the chest, narrowly missing his heart. Lawson, listening off to one side, thought the murder attempt was an odd subject to discuss: “I said to myself, ‘I’ve never heard him do that in public in quite that way.’”
TO HIS COLLEAGUES, HE SEEMS IN A GOOD MOOD. “THIS IS LIKE THE OLD MOVEMENT DAYS, ISN’T IT?” HE ASKS KYLES, WHO SLUMPS ON THE BED AS THE OTHER TWO DRESS. “THAT FIRST SPEECH WHEN I GOT HERE! WHEN I GOT TO THE TEMPLE AND SAW ALL THOSE PEOPLE — YOU COULDN’T HAVE SQUEEZED TWO MORE IN IF YOU TRIED.” 10:00 p.m. — Tornadoes and thunderstorms sweep across Shelby County. Wind gusts repeatedly slam into the shutters of Mason Temple with a BANG as lightning flashes outside. 10:15 p.m. — King continues: “And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But then it really doesn’t matter to me now.” He pauses. “Because I have been to the mountaintop.” 10:20 p.m. — Ivan Webb, night desk clerk at the Rebel Motel, notices the lights remain on all night in Room 34. Honey writes, “Ray watched television news as it casually pictured King entering Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel. Ray knew right where to find him.” 10:30 p.m. — King concludes his speech with, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!” and takes a seat, his eyes wet with tears. Honey writes, “Pandemonium swept Mason Temple as
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people came to their feet — applauding, cheering, yelling, crying.” Another minister observes, “When he sat down, he was just crying. He sure was.” Preachers sometimes cried, but he had never seen King do it. “This time it seemed like he was just saying, ‘Goodbye, I hate to leave.’” 10:45 p.m. — King and Abernathy drive to Benjamin Hooks’ house at 1860 South Parkway East for a late-night meal.
THURSDAY, APRIL 4TH 1:15 a.m. — King’s younger brother, Alfred Daniel (called A.D. by everybody), arrives at the Lorraine Motel with some associates, having driven there from Miami. They meet with other SCLC leaders for hours. 4:00 a.m. — King, Lee, and Abernathy finally return to the Lorraine Motel and visit with A.D. for about an hour, when King goes to bed. 8:00 a.m. — Lawson, AFSCME national organizer Jesse Epps, and the Rev. Ralph Jackson, a vocal civil-rights leader and pastor of St. Andrews AME Church, meet at The Peabody, 149 Union, for a strategy breakfast. 8:00 a.m. — Judge Bailey Brown meets in Circuit Court with Andrew Young and
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attorneys Burch, Lucas, Bailey, Caywood, Cody, and Newman to hear their request about lifting the restraining order. They suggest restrictions if the April 8th march is allowed to proceed. MPD director Frank Holloman admits that he would rather see King lead a march than anybody else. According to historian Joan Beifuss, he also testifies, “He had definite information that Negroes had been buying guns and ammunition in wholesale in adjoining Arkansas, and there had been a theft of guns and ammunition from a city sporting goods store the very night before.” 9:00 a.m. — Black and white ministers meet again at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, 976 Mississippi Boulevard, to continue their discussion from the day before. Rabbi Wax argues that more demonstrations at City Hall, even a meeting with Loeb himself, would be futile at this stage, but “the Negro ministers did not take keenly to my notion of not marching or appearing.” Again, the meeting accomplishes nothing. 10:00 a.m. — Mayor Loeb sits in on Brown’s courtroom for a short time but says nothing. 10:30 a.m. — A large group of Invaders, led by Charles Cabbage, meets in Room 315 at the Lorraine Motel to argue that the SCLC needs to fund their Black Organizing
Program if they expect help with the April 8th march. King attends the meeting briefly, tells them, “I don’t negotiate with brothers,” and walks out of the room. The Invaders leave the motel. 12 noon — King and Abernathy share a catfish lunch in King’s motel room. 12 noon — The meeting in Judge Brown’s court holds a lunch break. Chauncey Eskridge, King’s personal attorney and friend, arrives from Atlanta. Andrew Young, the SCLC’s executive vice president, talks after lunch, arguing that mass marches call attention to injustice in a nonviolent way. Brown will conclude the meeting at 4:00 p.m. 12 noon — Police continue their surveillance of King and his associates at the Lorraine Motel. For reasons never made clear, two black firefighters — Norvell Wallace and Floyd Newsum — are transferred to other fire stations that day. The two police officers responsible for monitoring King are both black undercover “community relations” officers: detective Ed Redditt and patrolman Willie Richmond. 12:50 p.m. — A woman calls Fire Station #2 and tells Redditt that everyone knows he is an undercover cop, and “spying was an offense against his people.” This is not the first threat he has received during King’s
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stay in Memphis, so MPD officials remove him from his post and tell him to take his family into hiding. He is replaced with another black policeman at the station. Richmond remains at the fire station, watching activities at the Lorraine through slits in the paper covering the windows. 1:00 p.m. — King and his brother A.D. call their mother in Atlanta, later holding an “impromptu SCLC meeting.” They and members of the local Community on the Move for Equality (COME) talk about putting some members of the Invaders on the SCLC staff. The Rev. Harold Middlebrook with COME supports the idea, saying, “Maybe exposure to Dr. King and his staff would give them the idea of being nonviolent.” 3:00 p.m. — More than a dozen members of the U.S. Army’s 111th Military Intelligence Group also monitor King’s activities from various downtown locations. At one point, they watch the Lorraine Motel from the rooftop of Fire Station #2. 3:00 p.m. — Memphis businessman Ned Cook meets with Loeb at City Hall and tells him that “the responsible element of the Negro community thought the thing was getting out of hand.” 3:00 p.m. — Bandleader Ben Branch with Chicago’s Operation Breadbasket (a community organization that encouraged support for black-owned businesses) gathers a small band in one of the rooms at the Lorraine Motel to rehearse for the mass meeting later that night at Mason Temple. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, pastor of Monumental Baptist Church, join in singing old hymns: “Yield Not to Temptation,” “I’ve Been ’Buked and I’ve Been Scorned,” and “I’m So Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always.” 3:00 p.m. — Ray drives to a nondescript rooming house at 422 South Main Street and asks about a room. He “unnerves” manager Bessie Brewer because he has a “sneer and a smile” and she doesn’t think he would “fit in” with her other tenants. But money is money. She takes him to Room 8 in the south wing of the complex. Ray notices the room doesn’t give him a view of the Lorraine Motel just behind the rooming house, so he tells her, “Well, I don’t need the stove and refrigerator because I won’t be doing any cooking. I was thinking more of a sleeping room.” 3:15 p.m. — Brewer shows Ray Room 5B, a tiny room with just a bed, chair, and dresser in the north wing. The window gives a partial view of the Lorraine, and by leaning out the window, Ray figures he can watch Room 306. “I’ll take it,” says Ray. “Where
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is the bathroom?” Brewer shows him the bathroom at the end of the hallway, just two doors down. Charles Stephens, next door in 6B, opens his door and sees Ray inspect the room. Ray goes downstairs and pays $8.50 (one week’s rent), giving his name as John Willard. No one sees him bring the Remington Game Master .30-06 pump-action rifle into the rooming house. 3:30 p.m. — Gwendolyn Kyles, the wife of the Rev. Billy Kyles, is looking forward to a big evening in her home at 2215 South Parkway East: “There was so much moving around, no home-cooked meals, restaurant food, having a plate brought over from the hotel, and sandwiches. So Billy came home and told me about it and we set out to get all of the soul food we could find.” She begins cooking dinner for King and a dozen other important guests, who plan to dine there before the mass rally at Mason Temple. “We had the mood set where [King] could just relax.” 3:45 p.m. — Ray drives a few blocks north to York Arms, a sporting goods store at 162 South Main, and asks about purchasing field glasses. The selection is limited. When Ray balks at paying $90 (“That’s a little expensive”), salesman Ralph Carpenter reaches into a window display and offers him a pair of Bushnell binoculars for $41.55. Ray asks if they come with instructions. “You really don’t need instructions,” he tells his customer. “You just place them to your eyes and adjust the eyepieces.” 4:30 p.m. — Ray drives back to the boarding house, parks his Mustang a few doors away and sits in the car for several minutes. Elizabeth Copeland and Frances Thompson, employees of Seabrook Wallpaper across the street, notice him in the car. 4:30 p.m. — Andrew Young returns to the Lorraine Motel to give King an update on the situation in Judge Bailey Brown’s courtroom. King chastises him for not telling them anything sooner: “Why don’t you call and let me know what’s going on? We’re sitting here all day long waiting to hear from you.” They eventually start laughing and even get into a pillow fight. “Occasionally, he would get into those kinds of hilarious moods,” says Young. 5:00 p.m. — King jokes with Lorene Bailey, the wife of motel owner Walter Bailey, about having dinner that evening with the Kyles. “If he don’t have good food out there, like that catfish we had,” he tells her, “I’m going to come back and eat here.”
5:00 p.m. — Eighteen local business leaders meet at The Peabody to discuss ways to settle the strike. As with every other meeting held across the city that day, they
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don’t come to any conclusions. “It was a cold audience,” says Memphis Labor Council secretary Bill Ross, “and a last-ditch, desperate attempt.” 5:30 p.m. — King and Abernathy dress for dinner. Because King’s skin is so sensitive, he “shaves” by using a homemade depilatory. He kids Kyles that his wife had better serve “real” soul food that evening. (“Not like at that preacher’s house. We went over there and had some ham. A ham bone.”) To his colleagues, he seems in a good mood. “This is like the old Movement days, isn’t it?” he asks Kyles, who slumps on the bed as the other two dress. “That first speech when I got here! When I got to the temple and saw all those people — you couldn’t have squeezed two more in if you tried. This really is the old Movement spirit.” Kyles remembers, “It was just preacher talk, like people talk baseball talk or barbershop talk.” He and Abernathy joke with King when he can’t button the tight collar on his shirt, so he pulls another one from his suitcase. 5:30 p.m. — Rooming house tenants hear the man in 5B walk back and forth to the bathroom several times. Stephens in 6B gets irritated when he can’t get in to rinse out some dishes. He estimates that Ray spends more than a half-hour in the bathroom,
though he hears the toilet flush only once. Ray tries to open the window and it jams halfway up.
house, and comes back inside. Abernathy returns to his own room, next to King’s, to put on aftershave.
5:45 p.m. — Solomon Jones waits in the Lorraine Motel courtyard with the white Cadillac loaned by R.S. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home. Ben Branch and Jesse Jackson are also in the courtyard, along with attorney Chauncey Eskridge and King aides Andrew Young, Hosea Williams, James Bevel, Bernard Lee, and James Orange. Other motel guests stand nearby, along with photographers Ernest Withers and Joseph Louw, and a reporter for The New York Times.
5:55 p.m. — At the fire station, a fireman, George Loenneke, asks policeman Richmond if he can look through the binoculars for a few minutes. He watches as King steps back onto the balcony outside Room 306 and talks to the people below.
5:50 p.m. — Three police cars and a dozen officers return to Fire Station #2 after monitoring the daily march from Clayborn Temple to City Hall. Most of the men go inside to grab a cup of coffee and to take a break, while others mill about outside. 5:55 p.m. — Waiting for Abernathy, King steps out onto the balcony outside Room 306. Down in the parking lot, Jackson says to King, “Doc, this is Ben Branch. Ben used to live in Memphis. He plays in our band.” King leans over the railing to tell Branch he remembers him, but jokes that he can’t bring his whole band to the Kyles’
6:00 p.m. — King leans over the railing and tells Branch to “play ‘Precious Lord’ like you’ve never played it before.” Branch says, “Dr. King, you know I do that all the time.” King responds, “But tonight, especially for me. I want you to play it real pretty.” Branch says, “I will, Doc,” and tells him to put on an overcoat, since it might be chilly later. 6:00 p.m. — From 207 feet away, Ray steps into the bathtub of the boarding house bathroom, pokes the rifle barrel out of the window, and sights quickly through the scope. 6:01 p.m. — King straightens up and begins to turn back towards his room to get a coat. He had been in Memphis 31 hours and 28 minutes. 6:01 p.m. — James Earl Ray pulls the trigger.
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PHOTOGRAPH BY KAREN PULFER FOCHT
LOC A L TR E A SU R ES
Nancy Bogatin at her apartment at The Village of Germantown with T.G., her West Highland terrier.
Nancy Bogatin On the front lines of the civil rights struggle for seven decades.
by cindy conner burnett
EDI TOR’S NO T E: “Local Treasures” is an occasional series that celebrates our city’s senior celebrities, people whose impact over the decades has helped make Memphis a better place.
t was April 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. had been murdered a few days earlier. Sanitation workers were marching through the streets of downtown Memphis, and Nancy Erdman Bogatin, a petite, dark-haired East Memphis mother of two, was marching with them.
Also downtown that day was Nancy’s husband, Irv Bogatin. A young attorney, he was
a candidate to lead the local bar association. If elected, he would be the group’s first Jewish president. While returning from lunch with the present and past presidents of the association, one of his companions noticed the attractive marcher and asked Irv if that was his wife. His swift reply was “yes.” He excused himself and joined her. A P R I L 2 0 1 8 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 83
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“That took guts,” Nancy says. “I was so afraid I had ruined his dream of leading the bar association.” Irv won the election and continued as a prominent member of the legal community in Memphis for many years. As for Nancy, her march for social justice had begun many years earlier. While a newly arrived teen in Memphis, she ar-
PHOTOGRAPH BY KAREN PULFER FOCHT
LOC A L TR E A SU R ES
for the richer persons,” says A C Wharton, former Memphis and Shelby County mayor, who, with his wife, Ruby, has been a close friend of the family since Irv Bogatin recruited him to Memphis in 1973 to lead Memphis Area Legal Services, an organization Irv helped found that provides free legal assistance to low-income and elderly people. Wharton adds that action is the defining component of Nancy’s beliefs. “She’s kind of like the
dresses the part with a wardrobe that features scarves and bright colors and chunky jewelry. She is stylish, quick-witted, and straight talking. Born in New York of a Southern mother, she is no steel magnolia. She is simply steel. For almost seven decades, Nancy has been a force for change and progress in Memphis, first breaking barriers as a businesswoman, then leading nonprofit organizations. Many of her accomplishments include the
Nancy’s dream was for equal opportunity in the broadest sense. From the right to sit in any seat on a bus, to business and social equality, to having access to the arts, to supporting early childhood education, she believed that it was the responsibility of the “haves” to share with the “have nots.” mother dispensing castor oil,” he says. “You might spit it out or walk away but she’s going to get that castor oil in your mouth, because it’s good for you.”
N Nancy’s apartment reﬂects her interests, her travels and her accomplishments with eclectic art, plaques, and awards and family photos. The zebra behind her was a gift from an associate she worked with on a nonproﬁt project.
gued with bus drivers and theater managers when the family’s African-American maid, Minnie, was not allowed to sit with her. In college, she joined other students at the University of Missouri who were protesting the existence of a “separate but equal” branch of the school. Nancy’s dream was equal opportunity in the broadest sense. From the right to sit in any seat on a bus, to business and social equality, to having access to the arts, to supporting early childhood education, she believed that it was the responsibility of the “haves” to share with the “have nots.” “Nancy believes that the finer things in life, whether it’s literacy or appreciation of the arts and literature, should not be reserved
ancy’s tidy apartment in The Village at Germantown, near the eastern edge of Memphis, showcases mementos of her accomplishments. Living-room walls serve as a small art gallery, with works ranging from a collage by former Studio of Advertising and Art partner and friend Memphis artist Ham Embree to a print of the iconic “I Am a Man” photograph by Ernest C. Withers. Works by German and Mexican artists hang comfortably beside Southern watercolors. An original Carroll Cloar painting near the front door welcomes guests. “Memphis Brooks Art Gallery really wants that one,” said Nancy, pointing to the Cloar painting, “but my kids get first chance at it.” The den is filled with books and family photographs. Nestled among classics by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Thomas Wolfe are Daniel Silva spy novels. The book collection as well as the apartment is eclectic, interesting, and varied. Just like Nancy. As befits someone who worked in the fashion industry, Nancy still
descriptor “first woman.” She was a partner in the first local female-owned advertising agency, The Studio of Advertising and Art. Committed to making Memphis a better place for all its citizens, she was the first woman chair of Goals for Memphis and served on the board of the Memphis Center for Urban Partnerships. She promoted literacy as president of the Memphis Literacy Council and leadership in Books from Birth, and as a supporter of the arts, she was the first female chair of Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and a founding board member of Hattiloo Theatre. It’s an impressive list of contributions for someone who never meant to be a Memphian.
orn in New York City in 1925 to a Southern mother she says could have been a character from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, Nancy’s early life was one of privilege. Her mother had met Mark Erdman, a prosperous clothing manufacturer when she moved from Memphis to New York to pursue a career in theater. Nancy fondly recalls her early days in New York, where she and her sister, Jane, enjoyed luxury apartments on the East Side of
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Manhattan, trips to Central Park, and summer vacations on New York and New Jersey beaches. However, Erdman’s business collapsed after an accountant absconded with the firm’s funds, and the golden days came to an end. Several years later her parent’s marriage ended as well. Nancy, Jane, and her mother then moved to Coral Gables,
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY NANCY BOGATIN
LOC A L TR E A SU R ES
“My sister Jane was creative vice president of Lake-Spiro-Shurman, the ad agency for Abe Plough’s products, which included St. Joseph Aspirin and Coppertone,” Nancy says. WMPS was Plough’s radio station and she used her radio experience at Missouri to gain a job.
Florida, where they lived for six months until the divorce was final. “The divorce was reported by New York gossip columnist Walter Winchell.,” she says. “I remember this very clearly because my teacher ‘kindly’ read the article to our entire class and asked if the Erdmans who were divorcing were my parents.” Next stop was Memphis. “I remember my mother telling Jane to stop the car when we neared Memphis,” Nancy says, with a smile. “She then instructed us in no uncertain terms never to talk about anyone once we arrived because they were all related. How right she was!” In her new hometown, Nancy not only found it difficult to form bonds with the children of her
mother’s childhood friends, she was shocked by the Jim Crow attitudes of the South. She had experienced racial prejudice in New York and Florida for being Jewish. But this was different. “During my early years in Memphis, I had self-righteous altercations with bus drivers and movie ticket-sellers when I was with Minnie, who had to sit in the back of the bus and upstairs at the theater. She was embarrassed and frightened to the point that I learned to quit making scenes,” she says. After graduation from Central High School, Nancy’s plans were clear. “My goal, probably from the first day I woke up in Memphis at age 13, was to get back to New York,” she says. But first there was college. World War II was in full swing in 1943 when Nancy arrived at the University of Missouri. Despite her determination to carry a heavy course load so she could graduate early, she became immersed in extracurricular activities. She was active in theater and helped form the University’s Campus Columns radio station that would lead to her first job. She also became involved with a group of students who were working towards the racial integration of the university. “That almost got me expelled and resulted in the first great compromise I made with life,” she says. “We had traveled to Jefferson City to meet with Lincoln University students to organize petitions and marches. Lincoln was the separate but so-called equal arm of the university in Columbia. We were later called into the president’s office where we were told we could desist or be expelled. I chose graduation, but I never forgot what I learned during that effort or how I compromised.” Nancy graduated in 1946 and returned to Memphis. The University of Missouri admitted its first African-American students in the fall of 1950. Back in Memphis, Nancy’s sister was making a name for herself as a successful advertising executive. Jane’s contacts would help Nancy win her first job in Memphis.
“Jane was creative vice president of Lake-Spiro-Shurman, the ad agency for Abe Plough’s products, which included St. Joseph Aspirin and Coppertone,” Nancy says. WMPS was Plough’s radio station and she used her radio experience at Missouri to gain a job. “One thing led to another and soon I had my own program and a new professional name — Nancy Page,” she recalls. “The last four letters came from the last name of our maid — Minnie Coppage.” In the late 1940s, the number of televisions in the United States was measured by the thousands, with live radio providing virtually all of the news and entertainment. Nancy’s responsibilities included covering live events, and one of those events led to a memorable day for her. “I’ll never forget the Cotton Carnival Parade in 1947,” she says. “The station was broadcasting it live on national radio. We had a block of time to fill but it rained and the parade was delayed. “The parade might not have had to start on time, but our broadcast did. We had the description of the floats, who was riding on them, and what they were wearing, so we just faked the whole thing. My date picked me up after the parade, and he couldn’t figure out why the traffic was being held for the parade after the ‘broadcast’ of the event had ended. I never told a soul [about this] until a few years ago. I was afraid I’d go to jail!”
ith a year and a half in radio under her belt, Nancy was ready to return to New York. “The job search was an eye-opener,” she says. “I couldn’t even get my foot in the door of a radio station. There was one unforgettable creep who kept asking if Erdman was an Italian name. New York had just instituted an equal opportunity law, and he was trying like the devil to find out if I was Jewish.” But since Nancy knew she had to find a job, she was not to be deterred. One of her clients at WMPS had been Sears,
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3/15/18 2:00 PM
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and the president of the Memphis stores had given her a letter of introduction to the head of retail advertising for the entire Sears chain. So she set her sights on a career in the fashion industry. Nancy was hired by Sears, despite being told during an interview that she was not the “Sears type.” “It just happened to be a job for which I was as well-equipped as my future dogs would have been,” she laughs while retelling the tale. However, she quickly worked her way up, first as a national fashion coordinator and later as a buyer. Although she was traveling the country for Sears and enjoying a New York City lifestyle filled with theater, ballet, politics, and friends, Nancy returned often to Memphis to visit her mother. It was during one of those trips back to Memphis that she met Irvin Bogatin, a handsome young attorney.
“I used to think I knew everything I needed to know, but now I’m not sure. I do know that life continues to be a great adventure.” “Minnie told me that he was the man I was going to marry and bet me $20 that I would. I was vehement that it wouldn’t happen. I wasn’t going to live in Memphis.” Two years later Nancy returned to Memphis for good. She and Irv were married January 24, 1952. “Moving back to the South was an emotional challenge,” Nancy admits. “I didn’t want to be a Memphian. I was/am a New Yorker through and through. I didn’t fit into the mold of the good Southern wife at that time. Irv assumed that I would not be going back to work. I responded by asking for a schedule of the return flights to New York.” But, with love and compromise, the Bogatins began what would be a successful marriage of more than 50 years. They became one of the early “power couples” in Memphis, and theirs was a partnership of mutual love, admiration, and support for each other and the community. Irv died in 2008, and Nancy still speaks lovingly of “that guy.” “We had a fine marriage,” she says, “one of trust, mutual respect, and shared philosophy. We both knew when to give way to the other, how to bolster hopes and share ambitions. It must have been hard to be [my] husband in a wealthy Memphis crowd that neither understood nor approved of working women. But he backed me in my independence, and
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counseled and encouraged my professional and community aspirations. “I wasn’t a typical Memphian, but I wasn’t alone,” Nancy said. “I remember when Ben Hooks was running for the Memphis school board. It might have been the first time an African American was on the ballot for any local office. Irv and I were having a beer with our neighbors the night of the election. “A neighbor who was a poll officer, commented, somewhat disgustedly, ‘There were actually two votes for that ‘n-word’ in this precinct.’ Irv and I looked at one another and said nothing. We knew exactly who those two votes came from.”
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s she settled into life as a Memphian, Nancy began work at Lowenstein’s Department Store as a fashion coordinator. There she met future business partner and lifelong friend Ham Embree. Later, Nancy called on her experiences in merchandising and marketing and promotion and opened a dress shop called Casuals Memphis. The store closed before the arrival of Nancy’s second child, Liz, who joined older brother, Bo. Both now live in the San Francisco area, where Bo is an attorney specializing in the arts and Liz works with nonprofits.
“Irv and I had a fine marriage, one of trust, mutual respect, and shared philosophy. We both knew best when to give way to the other.”
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While still in the hospital just after Liz’s birth, Nancy received a call from a friend who owned a dress shop and wanted her help with advertising. Nancy contacted Ham and the result was The Studio of Art and Advertising, a woman-owned small business, one of the first in Memphis, in 1956. The agency operated successfully for more than two decades, but Nancy was ready to move on. She sold the company to Embree and opened NEB, Inc., offering consulting and general advertising services. It was after she closed NEB, Inc. in the early 1980s that Nancy began to devote her time to nonprofit groups. “I became chairman of the board for the Literacy Council, founded by Jocelyn Rudner [a close friend and daughter of Abe Plough]. The council focused on illiterate adults, of which Memphis had more than its share.”
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From there, Nancy joined the Arts Council Board of Directors, later becoming the first female chairman of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Board of Trustees. She devoted much of her time and energy to the Rameses exhibit [the first of the “Wonders” series] and created, at no charge, a catalog used by many cities across the country. Next came Goals for Memphis, a community-wide program seeking answers to Memphis’ failing education system. “My personal dream had been to establish a public/private foundation in support of public education,” Nancy says. “Gid Smith, Community Foundation of Greater Memphis director, and Jocelyn Rudner, head of the Plough Foundation, took the lead, and Partners in Public Education (PIPE) was born. I became its first female board chair.”
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To help prepare young Memphians for the future, Nancy helped found Books from Birth, an offshoot of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Books from Birth, now a program administered by Porter-Leath, mails an age-appropriate book every month to 47,000 children in Shelby County. While her leadership positions are numerous, many people associated with the organizations Nancy has supported are quick to point out that she’s a hands-on leader willing to take on any role that will further the cause. “Nancy was my salesperson and my doorto-door companion,” recalls Wharton of their days spent trying to garner support for Books from Birth. “While she’s generous with monetary contributions, she gives something more precious than a check; she gives her time.” “Nancy is one of a kind,” says Diane Rudner, chairman of the board of the Plough Foundation and daughter of Jocelyn Rudner, a long-time friend and associate of Nancy’s. “She continues, after decades and decades, to be a perfect role model for women of all ages, tackling new community problems, identifying new approaches to old problems, widening her network of associates, and being a respected advisor to organizations she has been involved with over the years.” “Nancy is the ‘poster child’ of civic leadership,” says Ekundayo Bandele, founder
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OUR DENTAL PRACTICE has a passion for providing high-quality cosmetic, implant, and preventive dentistry. We strive for our patients to be comfortable and enjoy their visit to the dentist. In addition, we continue to add new technology to better serve our patients. We can now use a scanner that has eliminated the need for taking an impression! We serve our patients in two locations: Bartlett and Germantown. We would like to welcome Dr. Holly Legg to our team. Our entire group would love to have you as a new patient in our office. Left to right: DR. DREW MEFFORD // DR. HOLLY LEGG // DR. WADE CLAYTON // AND DR. GRANT DASHER
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and executive director of Hattiloo, the only freestanding black repertory theater in the area. “She is a thoughtful, wonderful, and experienced civic leader.” Involved with Hattiloo from its inception, Nancy’s 90th birthday was celebrated at the theater. This coming October, her family will be recognizing her 93rd birthday by sponsoring a performance by the Iris Orchestra featuring famed Japanese-American violinist Midori. “I told my kids, ‘You know when I check out of here, you’re going to want to do something special for me, so why don’t we do it now while I’m here?’” Nancy explains. “I still remember Midori’s concert with Leonard Bernstein in 1986, when she was just 15, and I told them that was the concert I’d like them to sponsor with me.”
Visit our web site for more information www.avemariahome.org. @Madonna1956Home We do not discriminate in regard to race, creed, sex, religion or national origin.
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Nancy Bogatin celebrating a fundraising event for Books from Birth with former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and entertainer Dolly Parton.
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But Nancy seems far from ready to “check out.” During a recent lunch, she strongly urged a friend to join her in volunteering to support Phil Bredesan’s run for the Senate. It was clear she wasn’t going to give up until she got a “yes.” And she mentioned that Kathy Buckman Gibson, chairman of the Shelby County Early Childhood Education Plan (SCECEP) partnership, recently contacted her about a project she thought Nancy would find interesting. “My kids talked about me moving to California but other than them, I don’t know anyone there,” she says. “And since I can’t afford the apartment I would want in New York City, I plan on staying here.” So Nancy Erdman Bogatin remains in the city where she never planned to live and continues to search for ways to make the community a better one. “I used to think I knew everything I needed to know,” she says, “but now I’m not a bit sure. I do know that it has been, and continues to be, a great adventure.”
The Beauty in All Things A featured designer in this year’s Art by Design showcase, Carmeon Hamilton finds inspiration everywhere.
by anne cunningham o’neill
C PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY CARMEON HAMILTON
armeon Hamilton is the merchandising manager for locally owned retailer, Stash Home, as well as an interior designer with her own company, Nubi Interiors, which specializes in residential and small-scale commercial design. I caught up with Carmeon recently to talk about her participation in Art by Design, a designer showcase being held April 5-8 at the Memphis Fairgrounds’ historic Pipkin Building. Sixteen of Memphis’ top design professionals and their teams are curating stylish custom vignettes in a showroom setting with accompanying talks, tours, and parties to round out the four days. Presented by IBERIABANK along with 20 other prominent local sponsors, this unique event is in its third year to benefit ArtsMemphis and its mission of supporting the city’s cultural assets. All proceeds from sponsorships and ticket sales go to enabling the organization to award grants to local arts groups and artists. Hamilton told me her design degree and 10 years of experience in the design field had led her “to discover the beauty in all things and to help others find that beauty in their surroundings every day.” She describes her core aesthetic as “modern boho,” which combines structured, clean lines with the casual and collected. I asked her for a preview of
what she was planning for her dining room vignette, and she hinted it will have a round table and will showcase raw wood, textured elements as well as modern, refined painted black pieces. The pops of color would come from a mix of art — including mixed media, abstracts, portraits, and landscapes. Hamilton loves in particular mid-century vintage pieces, graphic patterns, browns and blacks, handmade ethnic accents, and lots of plants. Of course I asked for free advice, namely several quick ways to update any room, and she kindly suggested: Paint the walls (or just your trim) an unexpected color, update your main lighting source with something beautiful, and add/replace your
Graphic patterned black-and-white wallpaper clearly reflects Hamilton’s modern boho style. A P R I L 2 0 1 8 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 95
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96 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • A P R I L 2 0 1 8
above: Browns and blacks, ethnic accents, and plenty of plants make this room look casual, collected, and comfortable. right: This bedroom is both soothing and sophisticated with the structured, clean lines of bed and bench set against pale blue walls.
rug and go as big as your budget allows on the size! She finds inspiration everywhere — Instagram and Pinterest are her top sources, but it can be an image of a room, an outfit, a piece of art, or even food which excites her. According to Hamilton, “If I’m not in Stash, HomeGoods, or Target you can find me in a vintage, thrift, or consignment store, or trolling the Etsy website.” Good design does not have to cost the earth. Since Stash is her full-time employer she asked that I mention “what a great company it is.” When her opportunity to display her talents at Art by Design arose, the company did not hesitate to support her in any way they could, including fulfilling all of the furniture and lighting needs for her vignette. Hamilton is clearly enthusiastic about interior design, but she is also over-the-top excited to be living and working in Memphis. She was born and raised in West Memphis and growing up only crossed the river for certain “big things,” as she puts it. After college Hamilton began her career as a junior designer in the interior design department of Golden Living, a healthcare company then based in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She worked with project managers renovating senior-care facilities and physical therapy clinics all across the country. The move to Memphis came when her husband, Marcus Hamilton, was transferred here with Kroger. He is now working for Nike, and they live in Cordova with their young son, Davin. She loves the people and the culture of
Memphis and sees the city as the perfect place to raise a family and to be an entrepreneur. In fact Hamilton believes “you can be a transplant from anywhere and everywhere and feel at home here.” She has taken on as her personal mission to visit a different local restaurant every weekend, often by herself. Two of her new favorite finds are Liquor Store on Broad and Edge Alley, where she says the avocado toast and handmade chips are divine. Readers are encouraged to go to artsmemphis.org/artbydesign for more information on featured designers and for tickets to Art by Design. There is a VIP preview party on April 5th, morning mimosas and tour on April 6th as well as a Cambria cocktail party that evening. General admission is on April 6-8. And please do make a point to visit with the talented and fun Carmeon Hamilton!
on the town
with michael donahue WHAT: The Gray Canary Soft Open WHERE: Old Dominick Distillery WHEN: January 27, 2018
he Gray Canary is going to fly — if its soft opening party is any indication. People raved about the restaurant at the event, held January 27th. The Gray Canary, which is housed at Old Dominick Distillery, is the newest restaurant from the chef/owner team of Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman. Marc Gasol and his wife, Cristina, and Memphis Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff and his wife, Nikki, were among the 214 guests at the dinner, which featured a special menu. As for the food, Hudman said, “You can come in as a regular diner and eat first-, second-, or thirdcourse or you can come in and get a bunch of plates and share around.” The food is centered around an open fire. “We’re super-excited about the hearth and the different techniques you can do using the fire, whether burying things in ash, or roasting on red-hot coals — there’s a lot of elements a wood-burning fire can impart to food,” Ticer said. The restaurant also is the first Ticer/Hudman spot to feature a raw bar.
1 Alex Grant, David Hacking, Rebecca Sparks, Chris Kroeze, Christine Bowers, Isaac McCoy, Jonas Byars, Brandon Belk, and James Gruber 2 Lloyd McIntyre, Thomas Scarberry, Zach Thomason, Joseph Guevarra, Bailey Patterson, Andy Ticer, Ryan Jenniges, Michael Hudman, and Ysaac Ramirez 3 Phil and Sarah Spinosa 4 Mark and Christina Gasol 5 J.J. and Genna Outlaw, and J. B. and Nikki Bickerstaff 6 Molly and Jason Wexler 7 Chuck Nix 8 Chance and Jessica Carlisle 9 Carrie and Chris Ybos
A P R I L 2 0 1 8 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 97
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perspective and proposal over the course of a school year. “Those kids know a lot about those houses — houses people don’t take care of, where people squat, run drugs, smoke drugs,” she says. “They have a very different perspective, and we just never really consider their voice. We would like for them to be able to exercise their voice.” Many other programs for local youth, Frank points out, cost money. And, “as we know,” she says, “38 percent of all kids in Memphis are in poverty. That’s an embarrassing number. That gets us back to holistic education — and what we’re trying to do.” Programs other than MI, in other words, either cost money — or they are available to young people only after those young people have accrued one negative consequence or another. Project MI’s community outreach work exists in the elusive middle space: neither charging young people (who haven’t money to spare), nor only intervening after someone has been detained. And in that middle space: possibility. Hope.
e’re spending so much money on this day,” Frank says. The day she’s referring to: April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “In a poorly resourced city, when you have an almost 40 percent poverty rate — I have a hard time looking at my brethren in this space, struggling the way that they do, while we spend so much money to get media attention. I think there were not a lot of people really doing the work who were consulted in a lot of the things that are happening.” In Project MI, Frank sees a chance to make real progress in addressing an issue that knits together so many surrounding threads. Mass incarceration has its roots in 1980s pushes to get “tough on crime.” Project MI holds that, instead of moving towards a crime solution, mass incarceration is tough on people, black and white, solves nothing — and needs to end. 98 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • A P R I L 2 0 1 8
PHOTOGRAPH BY ZIGGY MACK
DE M ET R IA FR AN K contin u ed from page 3 2
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Preston Shannon (1947-2018) Last call for the King of Beale Street.
n the hands of some musicians, even a hollow-body Gibson ES-335, a sizeable guitar with a bigger blues legacy, can look like a toy. Such musicians dwarf their guitars, not with their own physical dimensions, but with their proficiency with the instrument. Something in such a player’s effortless bending of strings, the casual shaking vibrato, the ease with which he solos easily over nine minutes of Southern soul without once opening an eye and sparing a glance at the fretboard tells the audience that this is a man who knows his instrument. Such a man was Preston Shannon, the King of Beale Street, who passed away this January at the age of 70. A staple of Beale Street blues clubs, Shannon was eulogized at his funeral as “an ambassador of Memphis who was comfortable anywhere in the world.” Shannon was an incendiary guitarist, and he sang with a warm, raspy voice that drew frequent comparisons to the great Bobby Womack.
night. He played with a handful of bands before he joined Shirley Brown’s soul band, and those comparisons to Bobby Womack panned out for him when, at live
in the 1990s and gigged in blues clubs on Beale Street. His first solo album, Break the Ice, was released in 1994 and featured the legendary Memphis Horns.
performances, he stepped in and sang Womack’s part in a duet Brown had previously recorded with Womack. Shannon formed his own band
Shannon recorded his next two albums, Midnight in Memphis (1996) and All in Time (1999), with Hi Records’ Willie Mitchell. Both albums fared well, and Midnight
For all his success, Shannon is often remembered for his warmth and kindness, and for his willingness to help a young-blood musician starting out. Born on October 23, 1947, in Olive Branch, Mississippi, Shannon grew up picking cotton in the daylight hours and lying awake at night to tune in to the sounds of Albert King and Bobby “Blue” Bland on his transistor radio. Shannon’s family moved to Memphis when he was 8 years old, and his fascination with the blues grew. His Pentecostal parents at first had some trouble accepting his love for his chosen genre, but Shannon persisted and eventually his parents gave in, unable to deny Shannon’s commitment to music. Like many of the musicians he admired as a boy, Shannon got his start on the Memphis bar scene, working at a hardware store by day and gigging at
in Memphis was ranked number eight on Blues Critic’s “Greatest 100 Blues and Southern Soul Albums 1980-2005.” It was 2006 before Shannon released another album, his Be with Me Tonight, but he continued to play, both in Memphis and elsewhere. His career included a performance on The Voice, spots at Beale Street Music Festival, and he was named Entertainer of the Year numerous times by the Beale Street Merchants Association. Dust My Broom, released in April of 2014, was Shannon’s final record. For all his success, Shannon is often remembered for his warmth and kindness, and for his willingness to help a youngblood musician starting out and looking for his own success. In the Memphis Flyer, owned by Memphis magazine’s parent company, Andria Lisle noted Shannon’s generosity, quoting Memphis jazz guitarist Joe Restivo as saying, “He was legitimately interested in what guys like me were doing. … Maybe he’d sit in with us, or I’d end up doing some pick-up gigs with him. It meant a lot.” It comes as no surprise that, after almost 30 years as a Beale Street staple, Shannon’s legend looms large in Memphis. But he was known as one of the greats outside the Bluff City as well. A small map of the world graces the bottom right corner of Preston Shannon’s official website (prestonshannon.com), with little red “pins” marking the locations from which fans have visited the site. Antarctica is the only continent without a pin, and the U.S. and Europe appear awash in digitally rendered crimson, proof that Shannon’s music, his heartfelt expression, and genuine passion for his art form have touched people all over the globe.
ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS HONEYSUCKLE ELLIS
by jesse davis
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SMALL MEETINGS. BIG IMPACT. Here’s what our Clients are saying about The Westin Memphis Beale Street: We’ve had this meeting at the Westin Memphis Beale Street 3 years in a row. Each year has been great, but this year was even better!!! Kudos to the staff!!! - Steve F. What’s not to Love? Location to FedEx Forum - Team was comfortable - Food was great - Service was terrific.- Jay D We always receive the best customer service from the Westin! - Mark G. I had high expectations, but I was still really impressed. AV was set up early and ran well, the food was delicious and the service was great, not disruptive to the speaker or presentation in the least. Hospitality is what Westin does best, and we really felt taken care of from the moment we walked in, to the minute we left. Staff was friendly and helpful, parking and valet was convenient, the entire event seemed very turn-key, leaving our team not having much to do beyond enjoy the event. Shaina G. Everyone was professional and handled everything beautifully. Great work! - Jessica G.
Contact our Professional Sales and Events Team to help plan your next event! 901-334-5920 • westin.com/bealestreet
The Westin Memphis Beale Street 170 Lt. George W. Lee Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103
MEMPHIS DINING guide
Among the appetizers served at Pontotoc are the Chicharone Nachos (top left), freshly fried pork skins topped with chorizo, queso fundido, and a confetti of sweet peppers. The Sister Schubert Beignet (bottom right) melds warm fried dough with creamy cool gelato for a match made in heaven. Bartender Jonathan Wade (middle) crafts inspired culinary cocktails, like the Seasonal Old Fashioned (bottom left), featuring bourbon, brown sugar simple syrup, and pecan bitters.
look at the menu on my first visit to Pontotoc set me up for satisfaction with two simple words: boiled peanuts. For this Southern girl raised in the Mississippi Delta, the presence of these briny bits from heaven took me back to childhood when they were a snacking staple. Breaking into the nuts, simmered in PBR and spices, juicy with just the right amount of crunch — and delivered in a Mason jar — was delightfully nostalgic, predictably messy, and a perfect prelude to the expertly crafted cocktails and decadent dishes to come. Open since October, the cozy space on a Tuesday night was relaxed and quiet. Beneath the dining room’s centerpiece — a sparkling oversized chandelier — candles
f lickered next to fresh roses set out in vases. Jazz music played through speakers (live jazz is featured Thursday through Saturday nights). The vibe at Pontotoc is a change of pace for owner Daniel Masters, who also owns Silly Goose; its location allows the chef and bartenders to get a bit more creative. “Being in an arts district gives you the opportunity to play more,” Masters says. He and partners Jeremy and Matthew Thacker-Rhodes renovated the space, previously a cafe, with a goal to create a food-forward jazz bar. Chef Chris Eure steers the menu with elevated Southern dishes, inspired by his grandma, with such entrees as Mississippi Pot Roast. The roast cooks low and slow —
about 14 hours — with carrots, potatoes, garlic cloves, and pepperoncinis (the latter “is what makes it Mississippi-style,” Eure says), and little discs of jalapeño cornbread, with a hint of sweetness, are perfect for soaking up the jus. Save room for dessert: the Sister Schubert Beignet. This ice-cream sandwich for adults features two fried dinner rolls with a scoop of perfectly creamy house-made sour cream gelato tucked between. A drizzle of tart blackberry coulis finishes the dish. As the gelato melts and melds with the coulis under the warm fried dough, I dare you not to consider licking the plate.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JUSTIN FOX BURKS
by shara clark
Pontotoc, 314 S. Main (901-207-7576) $-$$
We celebrate our city’s community table and the people who grow, cook, and eat the best Memphis food at M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M / F O O D - D I N I N G 102 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • A P R I L
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CIT Y DINING LIST
A Curated Guide to Eating Out
emphis magazine offers this curated restaurant listing as a service to its readers. Broken down alphabetically by neighborhoods, this directory does not list every restaurant in town. It does, however, include the magazine’s “Top 50” choices of must-try restaurants in Memphis, a DINING SYMBOLS group that is updated every August. Establishments open B — breakfast less than a year are not eligible for “Top 50” but are noted as L — lunch “New.” This guide also includes a representative sampling D — dinner of other Bluff City eating establishments. No fast-food SB — Sunday brunch facilities or cafeterias are listed, nor have we included WB — weekend brunch establishments that rely heavily on take-out business. X— wheelchair accessible Restaurants are included regardless of whether they ad MRA — member, Memphis vertise in Memphis magazine; those that operate in multi Restaurant Association ple locations are listed under the neighborhood of their $ — under $15 per person without drinks or desserts original location. This guide is updated regularly, but we $$ — under $25 recommend that you call ahead to check on hours, prices, $$$ — $26-$50 and other details. Suggestions from readers are welcome; $$$$ — over $50 please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CENTER CITY AGAVE MARIA—Menu items at this Mexican eatery include a variety of tapas, tacos, tortas, and more. Closed Sunday. 83 Union. 341-2096. L, D, X, $-$$ ALDO’S PIZZA PIES—Serving gourmet pizzas — including Mr. T Rex — salads, and more. Also 30 beers, bottled or on tap. 100 S. Main. 577-7743; 752 S. Cooper. 725-7437. L, D, X, $-$$ THE ARCADE—Possibly Memphis’ oldest cafe. Specialties include sweet potato pancakes, a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, and breakfast served all day. 540 S. Main. 526-5757. B, L, D (Thurs.-Sat.), X, MRA, $ AUTOMATIC SLIM’S—Longtime downtown favorite specializes in contemporary American cuisine emphasizing local ingredients; also extensive martini list. 83 S. Second. 525-7948. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$ BANGKOK ALLEY—Thai fusion cuisine includes noodle and curry dishes, chef-specialty sushi rolls, coconut soup, and duck and seafood entrees. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. at Brookhaven location; call for hours. 121 Union Ave. 522-2010; 2150 W. Poplar at Houston Levee (Collierville). 854-8748; 715 W. Brookhaven Cl. 590-2585. L, D, X, $-$$ BARDOG TAVERN—Classic American grill with Italian influence, Bardog offers pasta specialties such as Grandma’s NJ Meatballs, as well as salads, sliders, sandwiches, and daily specials. 73 Monroe. 275-8752. B (Mon.-Fri.), L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$ BEDROCK EATS & SWEETS—Memphis’ only Paleocentric restaurant offering such dishes as pot roast, waffles, enchiladas, chicken salad, omelets, and more. Closed for dinner Sun. 327 S. Main. 409-6433. B, L, D, X, $-$$ BELLE TAVERN—Serving soups, salads, sandwiches, and more, including smoked turkey and homemade dumplings with jalapeno Johnny cakes and beef short rib tamales. 117 Barboro Alley. 249-6580. L (Sun.), D, $ BLEU—This eclectic restaurant features American food with global influences and local ingredients. Among the specialties are a 14-oz. bone-in rib-eye and several seafood dishes. 221 S. Third, in the Westin Memphis Beale St. Hotel. 334-5950. B, L, D, WB, X, MRA, $$-$$$ BLUEFIN RESTAURANT & SUSHI LOUNGE— Serves Japanese fusion cuisine featuring seafood and steak, with seasonally changing menu; also, a sushi bar and flatbread pizza. 135 S. Main. 528-1010. L, D, X, $-$$ BRASS DOOR IRISH PUB—Irish and New-American cuisine includes such entrees as fish and chips, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and daily specials. 152 Madison. 572-1813. L, D, SB, $ CAFE KEOUGH—European-style cafe serving quiche, paninis, salads, and more. 12 S. Main. 509-2469. B, L, D, X, $
CAPRICCIO GRILL ITALIAN STEAKHOUSE— Offers prime steaks, fresh seafood (lobster tails, grouper, mahi mahi), pasta, and several northern Italian specialties. 149 Union, The Peabody. 529-4199. B, L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$$ CAROLINA WATERSHED—This indoor/outdoor eatery, set around silos, features reimagined down-home classics, including fried green tomatoes with smoked catfish, a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, burgers, and more. 141 E. Carolina. 321-5553. L, D, WB, $-$$ CATHERINE & MARY’S—A variety of pastas, grilled quail, pâté, razor clams, and monkfish are among the dishes served at this Italian restaurant in the Chisca. 272 S. Main. 254-8600. D, X, MRA, $-$$$ CHEZ PHILIPPE—Classical/contemporary French cuisine presented in a luxurious atmosphere with a seasonal menu focused on local/regional cuisine. The crown jewel of The Peabody for 35 years. Afternoon tea served Wed.-Sat., 1-3:30 p.m. (reservations required). Closed Sun.-Tues. The Peabody, 149 Union. 5294188. D, X, MRA, $$$$ COZY CORNER—Serving up ribs, pork sandwiches, chicken, spaghetti, and more; also homemade banana pudding. Closed Sun.-Mon. 745 N. Parkway and Manassas. 527-9158. L, D, $ DIRTY CROW INN—Serving elevated bar food, including poutine fries, fried catfish, and the Chicken Debris, a sandwich with smoked chicken, melted cheddar, and gravy. 855 Kentucky. 207-5111. L, D, $ EVELYN & OLIVE—Jamaican/Southern fusion cuisine includes such dishes as Kingston stew fish, Rasta Pasta, and jerk rib-eye. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun.-Mon. 630 Madison. 748-5422. L, D, X, $ FELICIA SUZANNE’S—Southern cuisine with low-country, Creole, and Delta influences, using regional fresh seafood, local beef, and locally grown foods. Entrees include shrimp and grits. Closed Sun. and Mon. A downtown staple at Brinkley Plaza, 80 Monroe, Suite L1. 523-0877. L (Fri. only), D, X, MRA, $$-$$$ FERRARO’S PIZZERIA & PUB—Rigatoni and tortellini are among the pasta entrees here, along with pizzas (whole or by the slice) with a variety of toppings. 111 Jackson. 522-2033. L, D, X, $ FLIGHT RESTAURANT & WINE BAR— Serves steaks and seafood, along with such specialties as bison ribeye and Muscovy duck, all matched with appropriate wines. 39 S. Main. 521-8005. D, SB, X, $-$$$ FLYING FISH—Serves up fried and grilled versions of shrimp, crab, oysters, fish tacos, and catfish; also chicken and burgers. 105 S. Second. 522-8228. L, D, X, $-$$ THE FRONT PORCH—Beale Street Landing eatery serves Southern-inspired appetizers, such as Crispy Grit Bites, along with burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Closed Monday. 251 Riverside Dr. 524-0817. L, X, $
(This guide, compiled by our editors, includes editorial picks and advertisers.)
THE GRAY CANARY—The sixth restaurant from chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, offering small plates and entrees cooked on an open flame. Oysters, octopus, and hearty steaks are among the menu options at this eatery in Old Dominick Distillery. Closed Mon. 301 S. Front. 4666324. D, WB, X, $-$$$. GUS’S WORLD FAMOUS FRIED CHICKEN—Serves chicken with signature spicy batter, along with homemade beans, slaw, and pies. 310 S. Front. 527-4877; 215 S. Center St. (Collierville). 853-6005; 2965 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 373-9111; 730 S. Mendenhall. 767-2323; 505 Highway 70 W., Mason, TN. 901-2942028. L, D, X, MRA, $ HAPPY MEXICAN—Serves quesadillas, burritos, chimichangas, vegetable and seafood dishes, and more. 385 S. Second. 529-9991; 6080 Primacy Pkwy. 683-0000; 7935 Winchester. 751-5353. L, D, X, $ HUEY’S—This family friendly restaurant offers 13 different burgers, a variety of sandwiches and delicious soups and salads. 1927 Madison. 726-4372; 1771 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 754-3885; 77 S. Second. 5272700; 2130 W. Poplar (Collierville). 854-4455; 7090 Malco Blvd. (Southaven). 662-349-7097; 7825 Winchester. 624-8911; 4872 Poplar. 682-7729; 7677 Farmington Blvd. (Germantown). 3183030; 8570 Highway 51 N. (Millington). 873-5025. L, D, X, MRA, $ ITTA BENA—Southern and Cajun-American cuisine served here; specialties are duck and waffles and shrimp and grits, along with steaks, chops, seafood, and pasta. 145 Beale St. 578-3031. D, X, MRA, $$-$$$ KOOKY CANUCK—Offers prime rib, catfish, and burgers, including the 4-lb. “Kookamonga”; also late-night menu. 87 S. Second. 578-9800; 1250 N. Germantown Pkwy. 1-800-2453 L, D, X, MRA, $-$$$ THE LITTLE TEA SHOP—Downtown institution serves up Southern comfort cooking, including meatloaf and such veggies as turnip greens, yams, okra, and tomatoes. Closed Sat.-Sun. 69 Monroe. 525-6000, L, X, $ LOCAL GASTROPUB—Entrees with a focus on locally grown products include truffle mac-and-cheese and braised brisket tacos. 95 S. Main. 473-9573; 2126 Madison. 725-1845. L, D, WB, X, $-$$ LOFLIN YARD—Beer garden and restaurant serves vegetarian fare and smoked-meat dishes, including beef brisket and pork tenderloin, cooked on a custom-made grill. Closed Mon.-Tues. 7 W. Carolina. 249-3046. L (Sat. and Sun.), D, $-$$ THE LOOKOUT AT THE PYRAMID—Serves seafood and Southern fare, including cornmeal-fried oysters, sweet tea brined chicken, and elk chops. 1 Bass Pro Dr. 620-4600/2918200. L, D, X $-$$$ LUNA RESTAURANT & LOUNGE—Serving a limited menu of breakfast and lunch items. Dinner entrees include Citrus Glaze Salmon and Cajun Stuffed Chicken. 179 Madison (Hotel Napoleon). 526-0002. B, D (Mon.-Sat.), X, $-$$$ LYFE KITCHEN—Serving healthy, affordable wraps, bowls, sandwiches, and more; entrees include herb roasted salmon and parmesan crusted chicken. 272 S. Main. 526-0254. B, L, D, WB, X, $ MACIEL’S TORTAS & TACOS—Entrees include tortas, hefty Mexican sandwiches filled with choice of chicken, pork, or steak. Also serving fried taco plates, quesadillas, chorizo and pastor soft tacos, salads, and more. Closed Sun. 45 S. Main. 526-0037; 525 S. Highland. 504-4584. L, D, X, $ THE MAJESTIC GRILLE—Housed in a former silent-picture house, features aged steaks, fresh seafood, and such specialties as roasted chicken and grilled pork tenderloin; offers a pre-theatre menu and classic cocktails. Well-stocked bar. 145 S. Main. 522-8555. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$ McEWEN’S ON MONROE—Southern/ American cuisine with international flavors; specialties include steak and seafood, sweet potato-crusted catfish with macaroni and cheese, and more. Closed Sun., Monroe location. 120 Monroe. 527-7085; 1110 Van Buren (Oxford). 662-234-7003. L, D, SB (Oxford only), X, MRA, $$-$$$ A P R I L 2 0 1 8 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 103
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CIT Y DINING LIST
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MESQUITE CHOP HOUSE—The focus here is on steaks, including prime fillet, rib eyes, and prime-aged New York strip; also, some seafood options. 5960 Getwell (Southaven). 662-890-2467; 88 Union. 527-5337; 3165 Forest Hill-Irene (Germantown). 249-5661. D, SB (Germantown), X, $$-$$$ MOLLIE FONTAINE LOUNGE—Specializes in tapas (small plates) featuring global cuisine. Closed Sun.-Tues. 679 Adams Ave. 524-1886. D, X, MRA, $ OSHI ASIAN KITCHEN—Eatery offers Asian cuisine, including sushi and nigiri, with such entrees as Sticky Short Ribs, Wagyu Flank Steak and Quail Eggs, and Bi Bim Bap. 94 S. Main. 729-6972. L, D, X, $-$$ PAULETTE’S—Presents fine dining with a Continental flair, including such entrees as filet Paulette with butter cream sauce and crabmeat and spinach crepes; also changing daily specials and great views. River Inn. 50 Harbor Town Square. 260-3300. B, L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$ PEARL’S OYSTER HOUSE—Downtown eatery serving seafood, including oysters, crawfish, and stuffed butterfly shrimp, as well as beef, chicken, and pasta dishes. 299 S. Main. 522-9070. L, D, SB, X, $-$$$ PONTOTOC—Upscale restaurant and jazz bar serves such starters as chicharone nachos and smoked trout deviled eggs; entrees include Mississippi pot roast with jalapeno cornbread and red fish with Israeli couscous. More than 30 wines available. 314 S. Main. 207-7576. D, WB, X, $-$$ RENDEZVOUS, CHARLES VERGOS’— Menu items include barbecued ribs, cheese plates, skillet shrimp, red beans and rice, and Greek salads. Closed Sun.-Mon. 52 S. Second. 523-2746. L (Fri.-Sat.), D, X, $-$$ RIZZO’S DINER—Chorizo meatloaf, lobster pronto puff, and lamb belly tacos are menu items at this upscale diner. Michael Patrick among the city’s best chefs. 492 S. Main. 304-6985. L (Fri.-Sat.), D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$ SABOR CARIBE—Serving up “Caribbean flavors” with dishes from Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Closed Sunday. 662 Madison. 949-8100. L, D, X, $ SOUTH MAIN MARKET—Food Hall featuring a variety of vendors serving everything from bagels and beer to comfort food and healthy cuisine. 409 S. Main. 341-3838. $-$$ SOUTH MAIN SUSHI & GRILL—Serving sushi, nigiri, and more. 520 S. Main. 249-2194. L, D, X, $ SPINDINI—Italian fusion cuisine with such entrees as wood-fired pizzas, gorgonzola stuffed filet, and fresh seafood; large domestic whiskey selection. 383 S. Main. 578-2767. D, X, $$-$$$ SUNRISE MEMPHIS—From owners of Sweet Grass and Central BBQ. Serves breakfast all day, including house-made biscuits, frittatas, kielbasa or boudin plates, and breakfast platters. 670 Jefferson. 552-3144. B, L, X, $ TERRACE—Creative American and Continental cuisine includes such dishes as filet mignon, beef or lamb sliders, chicken satay, and mushroom pizzetta. Rooftop, River Inn of Harbor Town, 50 Harbor Town Square. 260-3366. D, X, MRA, $$ TEXAS DE BRAZIL—Serves beef, pork, lamb, and chicken dishes, and Brazilian sausage; also a salad bar with extensive toppings. 150 Peabody Place, Suite 103. 526-7600. L (Wed.-Fri.), D, SB, X, $$-$$$ TUSCANY ITALIAN EATERY—Menu includes paninis, deli subs and wraps, soups, and desserts. Closed Sat.-Sun. 200 Jefferson, #100. 505-2291. B, L, X, $ UNCLE BUCK’S FISHBOWL & GRILL—Burgers, pizza, fish dishes, sandwiches, and more served in a unique “underwater” setting. Bass Pro, Bass Pro Drive, 291-8200. B, L, D, X, $-$$ THE VAULT—Shrimp beignets, stuffed cornish hen, and bacon-wrapped chicken roulade are among the dishes offered at this Creole/Italian fusion eatery. 124 G.E. Patterson. 591-8000. L, D, SB, X, $-$$
CIT Y DINING LIST
COLLIERVILLE 148 NORTH—French cuisine meets Southern comfort food here with menu items such as chicken and waffles, duck confit, and JKE’s Knuckle Sandwich, made with lobster knuckle and puff pastry. 148 N. Main. 569-0761. L, D, WB, X, $-$$ CAFE PIAZZA BY PAT LUCCHESI—Specializes in gourmet pizzas (including create-your-own), panini sandwiches, and pasta. Closed Sun. 139 S. Rowlett St. 861-1999. L, D, X, $-$$ CIAO BABY—Specializing in Neapolitan-style pizza made in a wood-fired oven. Also serves house-made mozzarella, pasta, appetizers, and salads. 890 W. Poplar, Suite 1. 457-7457. L, D, X, $ EL MEZCAL—Serves burritos, chimichangas, fajitas, and other Mexican cuisine, as well as shrimp dinners and steak. 9947 Wolf River, 853-7922; 402 Perkins Extd. 761-7710; 694 N.Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 755-1447; 1492 Union. 274-4264; 11615 Airline Rd. (Arlington). 867-1883; 9045 Highway 64 (Lakeland). 383-4219; 7164 Hacks Cross Rd. (Olive Branch). 662-890-3337; 8834 Hwy. 51 N. (Millington). 872-3220; 7424 Highway 64 (Bartlett). 417-6026. L, D, X, $ EMERALD THAI RESTAURANT—Spicy shrimp, pad khing, lemon grass chicken, and several noodle, rice, and vegetarian dishes are offered at this family restaurant. Closed Sunday. 8950 Highway 64 (Lakeland, TN). 384-0540. L, D X, $-$$ FIREBIRDS—Specialties are hand-cut steaks, slow-roasted prime rib, and wood-grilled salmon and other seafood, as well as seasonal entrees. 4600 Merchants Circle, Carriage Crossing. 850-1637; 8470 Highway 64 (Bartlett). 379-1300. L, D, X, $-$$$ RONNIE GRISANTI’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT— This Memphis institution serves family classics such as Elfo’s Special and chicken ravioli, along with lighter fare and changing daily chef selection. Closed Sun. Sheffield Antiques Mall, 684 W. Poplar. 850-0191. L (Mon.-Sat.), D (Thurs.-Sat.), X, $-$$$ JIM’S PLACE GRILLE—Features American, Greek, and Continental cuisine with such entrees as pork tenderloin, several seafood specialties, and hand-cut charcoal-grilled steaks. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. 3660 Houston Levee. 861-5000. L, D, X, $-$$$ MULAN ASIAN BISTRO—Hunan Chicken, tofu dishes, and orange beef served here; some sushi, too. 2059 Houston Levee. 850-5288; 2149 Young. 347-3965; 4698 Spottswood. 609-8680. L, D, X, $-$$ OSAKA JAPANESE CUISINE—Featuring an extensive sushi menu as well as traditional Japanese and hibachi dining. Hours vary for lunch; call. 3670 Houston Levee. 861-4309; 3402 Poplar. 249-4690; 7164 Hacks Cross (Olive Branch). 662-8909312; 2200 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 425-4901. L, D, X, $-$$$ THE SEAR SHACK BURGERS & FRIES— Serving Angus burgers, fries, and hand-spun milkshakes. Closed Mon. 875 W. Poplar, Suite 6. 861-4100; 5101 Sanderlin, Suite 103. 567-4909. L, D, X, $ STIX—Hibachi steakhouse with Asian cuisine features steak, chicken, and a fillet and lobster combination, also sushi. A specialty is Dynamite Chicken with fried rice. 4680 Merchants Park Circle, Avenue Carriage Crossing. 854-3399. L, D, X, $-$$
CORDOVA BOMBAY HOUSE—Indian fare includes lamb korma and chicken tikka; also, a daily luncheon buffet. 1727 N. Germantown Pkwy. 755-4114. L, D, X, $-$$ THE BUTCHER SHOP—Serves steaks ranging from 8-oz. fillets to a 20-oz. porterhouse; also chicken, pork chops, fresh seafood. 107 S. Germantown Rd. 757-4244. L (Fri. and Sun.), D, X, $$-$$$ FOX RIDGE PIZZA—Pizzas, calzones, sub sandwiches, burgers, and meat-and-two plate lunches are among the dishes served at this eatery, which opened in 1979. 1769 N. Germantown Pkwy. 758-6500. L, D, X, $ G. ALSTON—Food Network Star finalist and owner Chef Aryen Moore-Alston serves New Southern cuisine at this fine dining establishment. Shrimp beignets are
among the appetizers, and entrees include Sous Vide Rosemary Lavender Lamb and Sauteed Scottish Salmon. 8556 Macon. 748-5583. Closed Mon. D, SB, X, $$-$$$ GREEN BAMBOO—Pineapple tilapia, pork vermicelli, and the soft egg noodle combo are Vietnamese specialties here. 990 N. Germantown Parkway, #104. 753-5488. L, D, $-$$ KING JERRY LAWLER’S MEMPHIS BBQ COMPANY—Offers a variety of barbecue dishes, including brisket, ribs, nachos topped with smoked pork, and a selection of barbecue “Slamwiches.” 465 N. Germantown Pkwy., #116. 509-2360. L, D, X, $ JIM ’N NICK’S BAR-B-Q—Serves barbecued pork, ribs, chicken, brisket, and fish, along with other homemade Southern specialties. 2359 N. Germantown Pkwy. 388-0998. L, D, X, $-$$ MISTER B’S—Features New Orleans-style seafood and steaks. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. and Mon. 6655 Poplar, #107. 751-5262. L, D, X, $-$$$ PRESENTATION ROOM, THE—American bistro run by the students of L’Ecole Culinaire. Menu changes regularly; specialties may include such items as a filet with truffle mushroom ragu. Service times vary; call for details. Closed Fri.-Sun. 1245 N. Germantown Pkwy. 754-7115. L, D, X, $-$$ ON THE BORDER—Dishes out such Tex-Mex specialties as fajitas and Southwest chicken tacos; also fresh grilled seafood specials. 8101 Giacosa Pl .881-0808; 6572 Airways (Southaven). 662-655-4750. L, D, WB, X, $ SHOGUN JAPANESE RESTAURANT—Entrees include tempura, teriyaki, and sushi, as well as grilled fish and chicken entrees. 2324 N. Germantown Pkwy. 384-4122. L, D, X, $-$$ TANNOOR GRILL—Brazilian-style steakhouse with skewers served tableside, along with Middle Eastern specialties; vegetarian options also available. 830 N. Germantown Pkwy. 443-5222. L, D, X, $-$$$
(INCLUDES POPLAR/ I-240) ACRE—Features seasonal modern American cuisine in an avante-garde setting using locally sourced products; also small-plates and iconic bar. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. 690 S. Perkins. 818-2273. L, D, X, $$-$$$ AGAVOS COCINA & TEQUILA—Camaron de Tequila, tamales, kabobs, and burgers made with a blend of beef and chorizo are among the offerings at this tequila-centric restaurant and bar. 2924 Walnut Grove. 433-9345. L, D, X, $-$$ AMERIGO—Traditional and contemporary Italian cuisine includes pasta, wood-fired pizza, steaks, and cedarwood-roasted fish. 1239 Ridgeway, Park Place Mall. 761-4000. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ ANDREW MICHAEL ITALIAN KITCHEN— Traditional Italian cuisine with a menu from two of the city’s top chefs that changes seasonally with such entrees as Maw Maw’s ravioli. Closed Sun.-Mon. 712 W. Brookhaven Cl. 347-3569. D, X, MRA, $$-$$$ ANOTHER BROKEN EGG CAFE—Offering several varieties of eggs benedict, waffles, omelets, pancakes, beignets, and other breakfast fare; also burgers, sandwiches, and salads. 6063 Park Ave. 729-7020; 65 S. Highland. 623-7122. B, L, WB, X, $ BENIHANA—This Japanese steakhouse serves beef, chicken, and seafood grilled at the table; some menu items change monthly; sushi bar also featured. 912 Ridge Lake. 767-8980. L, D, X, $$-$$$ BLUE PLATE CAFÉ — For breakfast, the café’s serves old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes (it’s a secret recipe!), country ham and eggs, and waffles with fresh strawberries and cream. For lunch, the café specializes in country cooking. 5469 Poplar. 761-9696; 113 S. Court. 523-2050. B, L, X, $ BRYANT’S BREAKFAST—Three-egg omelets, pancakes, and The Sampler Platter are among the popular entrees here. Possible the best biscuits in town. Closed Mon. and Tues. 3965 Summer. 324-7494. B, L, X, $ BUCKLEY’S FINE FILET GRILL—Specializes in steaks, seafood, and pasta. (Lunchbox serves entree salads, burgers,
and more.) 5355 Poplar. 683-4538; 919 S. Yates (Buckley’s Lunchbox), 682-0570. L (Yates only, M-F), D, X, $-$$ BUNTYN CORNER CAFE—Serving favorites from Buntyn Restaurant, including chicken and dressing, cobbler, and yeast rolls. 5050 Poplar, Suite 107. 424-3286. B, L, X, $ CAPITAL GRILLE—Known for its dry-aged, handcarved steaks; among the specialties are bone-in sirloin, and porcini-rubbed Delmonico; also seafood entrees and seasonal lunch plates. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. Crescent Center, 6065 Poplar. 683-9291. L, D, X, $$$-$$$$ CASABLANCA—Lamb shawarma is one of the fresh, homemade specialties served at this Mediterranean/Moroccan restaurant; fish entrees and vegetarian options also available. 1707 Madison. 421-6949; 5030 Poplar. 725-8557 ; 7609 Poplar Pike (Germantown). 425-5908. L, D, X, $-$$ CIAO BELLA—Among the Italian and Greek specialties are lasagna, seafood pasta, gourmet pizzas, and vegetarian options. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. 565 Erin Dr., Erin Way Shopping Center. 205-2500. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$$ CITY SILO TABLE + PANTRY—With a focus on clean eating, this establishment offers fresh juices, as well as comfort foods re-imagined with wholesome ingredients. 5101 Sanderlin. 729-7687. B, L, D, X, $ CORKY’S—Popular barbecue emporium offers both wet and dry ribs, plus a full menu of other barbecue entrees. Wed. lunch buffets, Cordova and Collierville. 5259 Poplar. 685-9744; 1740 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 737-1911; 743 W. Poplar (Collierville). 405-4999; 6434 Goodman Rd., Olive Branch. 662-893-3663. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ ERLING JENSEN—For over 20 years, has presented “globally inspired” cuisine to die for. Specialties are rack of lamb, big game entrees, and fresh fish dishes. 1044 S. Yates. 763-3700. D, X, MRA, $$-$$$ FLEMING’S PRIME STEAKHOUSE—Serves wetaged and dry-aged steaks, prime beef, chops, and seafood, including salmon, Australian lobster tails, and a catch of the day. 6245 Poplar. 761-6200. D, X, MRA, $$$-$$$$ FOLK’S FOLLY ORIGINAL PRIME STEAK HOUSE—Specializes in prime steaks, as well as lobster, grilled Scottish salmon, Alaskan king crab legs, rack of lamb, and weekly specials. Now celebrating their 40th year. 551 S. Mendenhall. 762-8200. D, X, MRA, $$$-$$$$ FORMOSA—Offers Mandarin cuisine, including broccoli beef, hot-and-sour soup, and spring rolls. Closed Monday. 6685 Quince. 753-9898. L, D, X, $-$$ FRATELLI’S—Serves hot and cold sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts, all with an Italian/Mediterranean flair. Closed Sunday. 750 Cherry Rd., Memphis Botanic Garden. 766-9900. L, X, $ FRANK GRISANTI’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT— Northern Italian favorites include pasta with jumbo shrimp and mushrooms; also seafood, fillet mignon, and daily lunch specials. Closed for lunch Sunday. Embassy Suites Hotel, 1022 S. Shady Grove. 761-9462. L, D, X, $-$$$ THE GROVE GRILL—Offers steaks, chops, seafood, and other American cuisine with Southern and global influences; entrees include crab cakes, and shrimp and grits, also dinner specials. Founder Jeff Dunham’s son Chip is now chef de cuisine. 4550 Poplar. 8189951. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $$-$$$ HALF SHELL—Specializes in seafood, such as King crab legs; also serves steaks, chicken, pastas, salads, sandwiches, a ”voodoo menu”; oyster bar at Winchester location. 688 S. Mendenhall. 682-3966; 7825 Winchester. 737-6755. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$ HERITAGE TAVERN & KITCHEN—Featuring classic cuisine from the country’s five regions, including lobster rolls, fried chicken, smoked tamales, Green Goddess shrimp, and more. 6150 Poplar, Regalia. 761-8855.L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$ HIGH POINT PIZZA—Serves variety of pizzas, subs, salads, and sides. Closed Monday. A neighborhood fixture. 477 High Point Terrace. 452-3339. L, D, X, $-$$ HOG & HOMINY—The casual sister to Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen serves brick-oven-baked pizzas, including the Red-Eye with pork belly, and
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CIT Y DINING LIST
small plates with everything from meatballs to beef and cheddar hot dogs; and local veggies. Closed for lunch Mon. 707 W. Brookhaven Cl. 207-7396. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ HOUSTON’S—Serves steaks, seafood, pork chops, chicken dishes, sandwiches, salads, and Chicago-style spinach dip. Farmous for first-class service. 5000 Poplar. 683-0915. L, D, X $-$$$ INTERIM—Offers American-seasonal cuisine with emphasis on local foods and fresh fish; macaroni and cheese is a house specialty. Closed for lunch Sat. 5040 Sanderlin, Suite 105. 818-0821. L, D, SB, X, $-$$$ THE KITCHEN BISTRO—Tomato soup, pan-roasted ribeye, sticky toffee pudding, and dishes made using in-season fruits and veggies are served at this establishment at Shelby Farms Park. 415 Great View Drive E., Suite 101. 729-9009. L, D, X, $-$$ LA BAGUETTE—An almond croissant and chicken salad are among specialties at this French-style bistro. Closed for dinner Sun. 3088 Poplar. 458-0900. B, L, D (closes at 7), X, MRA, $ LAS DELICIAS—Popular for its guacamole, house-made tortilla chips, and margaritas, this restaurant draws diners with its chicken enchiladas, meat-stuffed flautas, and Cuban torta with spicy pork. Closed Sunday. 4002 Park Ave. 458-9264; 5689 Quince. 800-2873. L, D, X, $ LIBRO AT LAURELWOOD—Bookstore eatery features a variety of sandwiches, salads, and homemade pasta dishes, with Italian-inspired options such as carbonara and potato gnocchi. Closed for dinner Sun. 387 Perkins Ext. (Novel). 800-2656. B, L, D, SB, X, $-$$ LISA’S LUNCHBOX—Serving bagels, sandwiches, salads, and wraps. 5030 Poplar, 761-4044; 5885 Ridgeway Center Pkwy., Suite 101. 767-6465; 2659 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Suite 1200; 2525 Central (Children’s Museum); 166 S. Front. 729-7277. B, L, $ LOST PIZZA—Offering pizzas (with dough made from scratch), pasta, salads, sandwiches, tamales, and more. 2855 Poplar. 5721803; 5960 Getwell (Southaven). 662-892-8684. L, D, X, $-$$ LYNCHBURG LEGENDS—This restaurant with a Jack Daniels’ theme and Southern cuisine serves such entrees as Bourbon Street salmon, buttermilk-fried chicken, and grilled steak and wild mushroom salad. DoubleTree Hotel, 5069 Sanderlin. 969-7777. B, L, D, X, $- $$$ MARCIANO MEDITERRANEAN AND ITALIAN CUISINE—Veal Saltimbocca with angel hair pasta and white wine sauce is among the entrees; also steaks, seafood, and gourmet pizza. Closed Sun. 780 Brookhaven Cl. 682-1660. D, X, $-$$ DAN MCGUINNESS PUB—Serves fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, burgers, and other Irish and American fare; also lunch and dinner specials. 4694 Spottswood. 761-3711; 3964 Goodman Rd. 662-890-7611. L, D, X, $ MAYURI INDIAN CUISINE—Serves tandoori chicken, masala dosa, tikka masala, as well as lamb and shrimp entrees; also a daily lunch buffet, and dinner buffet on Fri.-Sat. 6524 Quince Rd. 753-8755. L, D, X, $-$$ MELLOW MUSHROOM—Large menu includes assortment of pizzas, salads, calzones, hoagies, vegetarian options, and 50 beers on tap. 5138 Park Ave. 562-12119155 Poplar; Shops of Forest Hill (Germantown). 907-0243. L, D, X, $-$$ MOSA ASIAN BISTRO—Specialties include sesame chicken, Thai calamari, rainbow panang curry with grouper fish, and other Pan Asian/fusion entrees. Closed Mon. 850 S. White Station Rd. 683-8889. L, D, X, MRA, $ NAM KING—Offers luncheon and dinner buffets, dim sum, and such specialties as fried dumplings, pepper steak, and orange chicken. 4594 Yale. 373-4411. L, D, X, $ NAPA CAFE—Among the specialties is miso-marinated salmon over black rice with garlic spinach and shiitake mushrooms. Closed Sun. 5101 Sanderlin, Suite 122. 683-0441. L, D, X, $$-$$$ NEW HUNAN—Chinese eatery with more than 80 entrees; also lunch/dinner buffets. 5052 Park. 766-1622. L, D, X, $ OLD VENICE PIZZA CO.—Specializes in “eclectic Italian,” from pastas, including the “Godfather,” to hand-tossed pizzas, including the “John Wayne”; choose from 60 toppings. 368 Perkins Ext. 767-6872. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$ ONE & ONLY BBQ—On the menu are pork barbecue sandwiches, platters, wet and dry ribs, smoked chicken and turkey platters, a smoked meat salad, barbecue quesadillas, and more. New on the BBQ scene, but worth a visit. 1779 Kirby Pkwy. 751-3615; 567 Perkins Extd. 249-4227. L, D, X, $ 106 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • A P R I L 2 0 1 8
CIT Y DINING LIST ONO POKÉ—This eatery specializes in poké — a Hawaiian dish of fresh fish salad served over rice. Menu includes a variety of poké bowls, like the Kimchi Tuna bowl, or customers can build their own by choosing a base, protein, veggies, and toppings. 3145 Poplar. 618-2955. L, D, X, $ OWEN BRENNAN’S—New Orleans-style menu of beef, chicken, pasta, and seafood; jambalaya, shrimp and grits, and crawfish etouffee are specialties. Closed for dinner Sunday. The Regalia, 6150 Poplar. 761-0990. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ PARK + CHERRY—Partnering with CFY Catering, the Dixon offers casual dining within the museum. Menu features sandwiches, like truffled pimento cheese, as well as salads, snacks, and sweets. Closed for breakfast Sun. and all day Mon. 4339 Park (Dixon Gallery). 761-5250. L, X, $ PETE & SAM’S—Serving Memphis for 60-plus years; offers steaks, seafood, and traditional Italian dishes, including homemade ravioli, lasagna, and chicken marsala. 3886 Park. 458-0694. D, X, $-$$$ PF CHANG’S CHINA BISTRO—Specialties are orange peel shrimp, Mongolian beef, and chicken in lettuce wraps; also vegetarian dishes, including spicy eggplant. 1181 Ridgeway Rd., Park Place Centre. 818-3889. L, D, X, $-$$ PHO SAIGON—Vietnamese fare includes beef teriyaki, roasted quail, curry ginger chicken, vegetarian options, and a variety of soups. 2946 Poplar. 458-1644. L, D, $ PORCELLINO’S CRAFT BUTCHER—Small plates, charcuterie selections, specialty steaks, house-made pastries, and innovative teas and coffees are offered at this combination butcher shop and restaurant featuring locally sourced menu items. Restaurant open for breakfast and lunch. Butcher shop open until 6 p.m. 711 W. Brookhaven Cl. 762-6656. B, L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ PYRO’S FIRE-FRESH PIZZA—Serving gourmet pizzas cooked in an open-fire oven; wide choice of toppings; large local and craft beer selection. 1199 Ridgeway. 379-8294; 2035 Union Ave. 208-8857; 2286 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 207-1198; 3592 S. Houston Levee (Collierville). 221-8109. L, D, X, $ RIVER OAKS—Chef Jose Gutierrez’s French-style bistro serves seafood and steaks, with an emphasis on fresh local ingredients. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. 5871 Poplar Ave. 683-9305. L, D, X, $$$ RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE—Offers prime steaks cut and aged in-house, as well as lamb, chicken, and fresh seafood, including lobster. 6120 Poplar. 761-0055. D, X, $$$-$$$$ SALSA—Mexican-Southern California specialties include carnitas, enchiladas verde, and fajitas; also Southwestern seafood dishes such as snapper verde. Closed Sun. Regalia Shopping Center, 6150 Poplar, Suite 129. 683-6325. L, D, X, $-$$ SEASONS 52—This elegant fresh grill and wine bar offers a seasonally changing menu using fresh ingredients, wood-fire grilling, and brick-oven cooking; also a large international wine list and nightly piano bar. Crescent Center, 6085 Poplar. 682-9952. L, D, X, $$-$$$ STAKS— Offering pancakes, including Birthday Cake and lemon ricotta. Menu includes other breakfast items such as beignets and French toast, as well as soups and sandwiches for lunch. 4615 Poplar. 509-2367. B, L, WB, X, $ SUSHI JIMMI—This food truck turned restaurant serves a variety of sushi rolls, fusion dishes — such as kimchi fries — and sushi burritos. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Mon. 2895 Poplar. 729-6985. L, D, X, $ TENNESSEE TACO CO.—From the creators of Belly Acres, offers such appetizers as crawfish and chorizo mac-n-cheese and homemade guacamole and specializes in street tacos. 3295 Poplar. 207-1960. L, D, X, $ THREE LITTLE PIGS—Pork-shoulder-style barbecue with tangy mild or hot sauce, freshly made coleslaw, and baked beans. 5145 Quince Rd. 685-7094. B, L, D, X, $ TOPS BAR-B-Q—Specializes in pork barbecue sandwiches and sandwich plates with beans and slaw; also serves ribs, beef brisket, and burgers. 1286 Union. 725-7527. 4183 Summer. 324-4325; 5391 Winchester. 794-7936; 3970 Rhodes.
Happily Ever After Begins at ACRE Celebrating weddings and receptions. Where cuisine, ambience & service are second to none. 901 818-ACRE 690 S Perkins Road, Memphis, TN • acrememphis.com
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CIT Y DINING LIST 323-9865; 6130 Macon. 371-0580. For more locations, go online. L, D, X, $ WANG’S MANDARIN HOUSE—Offers Mandarin, Cantonese, Szechuan, and spicy Hunan entrees, including the golden-sesame chicken; next door is East Tapas, serving small plates with an Asian twist. 6065 Park Ave., Park Place Mall. 763-0676. L, D, X, $-$$ WASABI—Serving traditional Japanese offerings, hibachi, sashimi, and sushi. The Sweet Heart roll, wrapped — in the shape of a heart — with tuna and filled with spicy salmon, yellowtail, and avocado, is a specialty. 5101 Sanderlin Rd., Suite 105. 421-6399. L, D, X, $-$$ WOMAN’S EXCHANGE TEA ROOM—Chicken-salad plate, beef tenderloin, soups-and-sandwiches, and vegetable plates are specialties; meal includes drink and dessert. Closed Sat.-Sun. 88 Racine. 327-5681. L, X, $ ZAKA BOWL—This vegan-friendly restaurant serves buildyour-own vegetable bowls featuring ingredients such as agave Brussels sprouts and roasted beets. Also serves tuna poke and herbed chicken bowls. 575 Erin. 509-3105. L, D, $
GERMANTOWN BLUE HONEY BISTRO—Entrees at this upscale eatery include brown butter scallops served with Mississippi blue rice and herb-crusted beef tenderloin with vegetables and truffle butter. Closed Sun. 9155 Poplar, Suite 17. 552-3041. D, X, $-$$$ BROOKLYN BRIDGE ITALIAN RESTAURANT— Specializing in such homemade entrees as spinach lasagna and lobster ravioli; a seafood specialty is horseradish-crusted salmon. Closed Sun. 1779 Kirby Pkwy. 755-7413. D, X, $-$$$ FOREST HILL GRILL—A variety of standard pub fare and a selection of mac ‘n’ cheese dishes are featured on the menu. Specialties include Chicken Newport and a barbecue salmon BLT. 9102 Poplar Pike. 624-6001. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$ GERMANTOWN COMMISSARY—Serves barbecue sandwiches, sliders, ribs, shrimp, and nachos, as well as smoked barbecued bologna sandwiches; Mon.-night all-youcan-eat ribs. 2290 S. Germantown Rd. S. 754-5540. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ LAS TORTUGAS DELI MEXICANA— Authentic Mexican food prepared from local food sources; specializes in tortugas — grilled bread scooped out to hold such powerfully popular fillings as brisket, pork, and shrimp; also tingas, tostados. Closed Sunday. 1215 S. Germantown Rd. 751-1200; 6300 Poplar. 623-3882. L, D, X, $-$$ MISTER B’S—Features New Orleans-style seafood and steaks. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. and Mon. 6655 Poplar, #107. 751-5262. L, D, X, $-$$$ THE PASTA MAKER RESTAURANT—This Italian eatery specializes in artisanal pasta. Entrées include Spaghetti allo scoglio, Penne Boscaiola, and Fusilli Primavera. Gluten-free options available. Restaurant closed Mon. and Sun. (cooking classes by reservation Sun.). 2095 Exeter, Suite 30. 779-3928. L (Thurs. only), D, X, $-$$ PETRA CAFÉ—Serves Greek, Italian, and Middle Eastern sandwiches, gyros, and entrees. Hours vary; call. 6641 Poplar. 754-4440; 547 S. Highland. 323-3050. L, D, X, $-$$ PIZZA REV—Specializes in build-your-own, personal-sized artisanal pizza. Choose from homemade dough options, all-natural sauces, Italian cheeses, and more than 30 toppings. 6450 Poplar. 379-8188. L, D, X, MRA, $ RED KOI—Classic Japanese cuisine offered at this family-run restaurant; hibachi steaks, sushi, seafood, chicken, and vegetables. 5847 Poplar. 767-3456. L, D, X $-$$ ROYAL PANDA—Hunan fish, Peking duck, Royal Panda chicken and shrimp, and a seafood combo are among the specialties. 3120 Village Shops Dr. 756-9697. L, D, X, $-$$ RUSSO’S NEW YORK PIZZERIA AND WINE BAR—Serves gourmet pizzas, calzones, and pasta, including lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo, scampi, and more. 9087 Poplar, Suite 111. 755-0092. L, D, WB, X, $-$$ SAKURA—Sushi, tempura, and teriyaki are Japanese specialties here. 2060 West St. 758-8181; 4840 Poplar. 572-1002. L, D, X, $-$$
SOUTHERN SOCIAL—Shrimp and grits, stuffed quail, and Aunt Thelma’s Fried Chicken are among the dishes served at this upscale Southern establishment. 2285 S. Germantown Rd. 754-5555. D, SB, X, $-$$$ WEST STREET DINER—This home-style eatery offers breakfast, burgers, po’boys, and more. 2076 West St. 757-2191. B, L, D (Mon.-Fri.), X, $
MIDTOWN (INCLUDES THE MEDICAL CENTER) ABYSSINIA RESTAURANT—Ethiopian/Mediterranean menu includes beef, chicken, lamb, fish entrees, and vegetarian dishes; also a lunch buffet. 2600 Poplar. 321-0082. L, D, X, $-$$ ALCHEMY—Southern fusion, locally grown cuisine features small and large plates; among the offerings are pan-seared hanger steak, quail, and lamb chops; also handcrafted cocktails and local craft beers. 940 S. Cooper. 726-4444. D, SB, X, $-$$ ATOMIC TIKI—Island-inspired dishes such as barbecue nachos with pineapple mango relish, Polynesian meatballs, and shrimp roll sliders are served in a tiki bar atmosphere. Closed Mon. 1545 Overton Park. 279-3935. D, $ BABALU TACOS & TAPAS—This Overton Square eatery dishes up Spanish-style tapas with Southern flair; also taco and enchilada of the day; specials change daily. 2115 Madison. 274-0100; 6450 Poplar, 410-8909. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$ BAR DKDC—Features an ever-changing menu of international “street food,” from Thai to Mexican, Israeli to Indian, along with specialty cocktails. 964 S. Cooper. 272-0830. D, X, MRA, $ BAR-B-Q SHOP—Dishes up barbecued ribs, spaghetti, bologna; also pulled pork shoulder, Texas toast barbecue sandwich, chicken sandwich, and salads. Closed Sun. 1782 Madison. 272-1277. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ BARI RISTORANTE ENOTECA—Authentic Southeastern Italian cuisine (Puglia) emphasizes lighter entrees. Serves fresh fish and beef dishes and a homemade soup of the day. 22 S. Cooper. 722-2244. D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ BARKSDALE RESTAURANT—Old-school diner serving breakfast and Southern plate lunches. 237 Cooper. 722-2193. B, L, D, X, $ BAYOU BAR & GRILL—New Orleans fare at this Overton Square eatery includes jambalaya, gumbo, catfish Acadian, shrimp dishes, red beans and rice, and muffalettas. 2094 Madison. 278-8626. L, D, WB, X, $-$$ BEAUTY SHOP—Modern American cuisine with international flair served in a former beauty shop. Serves steaks salads, pasta, and seafood, including pecan-crusted golden sea bass. Perennial “Best Brunch” winner. Closed for dinner Sunday. 966 S. Cooper. 272-7111. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ BELLY ACRES—At this festive Overton Square eatery, milkshakes, floats, and burgers rule. Burgers are updated with contemporary toppings like grilled leeks, braised tomatoes, and sourdough or brioche buns. 2102 Trimble Pl. 529-7017. L, D, X, $ BHAN THAI—Authentic Thai cuisine includes curries, pad Thai noodles, and vegetarian dishes, as well as seafood, pork, and duck entrees. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. and all day Mon. 1324 Peabody. 272-1538. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ BLUE NILE ETHIOPIAN—Kabobs, flavorful chicken and lamb stew, and injera (flatbread) are traditional items on the menu, along with vegetarian options. 1788 Madison. 474-7214. L, D, X, $-$$ BOSCOS—Tennessee’s first craft brewery serves a variety of freshly brewed beers as well as wood-fired oven pizzas, pasta, seafood, steaks, and sandwiches. 2120 Madison. 432-2222. L, D, SB (with live jazz), X, MRA, $-$$ BOUNTY ON BROAD—Offering family-style dining, Bounty serves small plates and family-sized platters, with such specialties as chicken fried quail and braised pork shank. 2519 Broad. 410-8131. L (Sat. and Sun.), D (Mon.-Sat.), SB, X, $-$$$
BROADWAY PIZZA—Serving a variety of pizzas, including the Broadway Special, as well as sandwiches, salads, wings, and soul-food specials. 2581 Broad. 454-7930; 627 S. Mendenhall. 207-1546. L, D, X, $-$$ CAFE 1912—French/American bistro owned by culinary pioneer Glenn Hays serving such seafood entrees as grouper and steamed mussels; also crepes, salads, and French onion soup. 243 S. Cooper. 722-2700. D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$ CAFE BROOKS BY PARADOX—Serving grab-and-go pastries, as well as lunch items. Menu includes soups, salads, and sandwiches, such as the Modern Reuben and Grown Up Grilled Cheese. 1934 Poplar (Memphis Brooks Museum of Art). 544-6200. B, L, X, $ CAFE ECLECTIC—Omelets and chicken and waffles are among menu items, along with quesadillas, sandwiches, wraps, and burgers. Menu varies by location. 603 N. McLean. 725-1718; 111 Harbor Town Square. 590-4645; 510 S. Highland. 410-0765. B, L, D, SB, X, MRA, $ CAFE OLE—This eatery specializes in authentic Mexican cuisine; one specialty is the build-your-own quesadilla. 959 S. Cooper. 343-0103. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$ CAFE PALLADIO—Serves gourmet salads, soups, sandwiches, and desserts in a tea room inside the antiques shop. Closed Sun. 2169 Central. 278-0129. L, X, $ CAFE SOCIETY—With Belgian and classic French influences, serves Wagyu beef, chicken, and seafood dishes, including bacon-wrapped shrimp, along with daily specials and vegetarian entrees. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. 212 N. Evergreen. 722-2177. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ CELTIC CROSSING—Specializes in Irish and American pub fare. Entrees include shepherd’s pie, shrimp and sausage coddle, and fish and chips. 903 S. Cooper. 274-5151. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$ CENTRAL BBQ—Serves ribs, smoked hot wings, pulled pork sandwiches, chicken, turkey, nachos, and portobello sandwiches. Offers both pork and beef barbecue. 2249 Central Ave. 272-9377; 4375 Summer Ave. 7674672; 147 E. Butler. 672-7760. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ CHEF TAM’S UNDERGROUND CAFE—Serves Southern staples with a Cajun twist. Menu items include totchos, jerk wings, fried chicken, and “muddy” mac and cheese. Closed Sun. and Mon. 2299 Young. 207-6182. L, D, $ THE COVE—Nautical-themed restaurant and bar serving oysters, pizzas, and more. The Stoner Pie, with tamales and fritos, is a popular dish. 2559 Broad. 730-0719. L, D, $ THE CRAZY NOODLE—Korean noodle dishes range from bibam beef noodle with cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables, to curry chicken noodle; also rice cakes served in a flavorful sauce. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. 2015 Madison. 272-0928. L, D, X, $ ECCO—Mediterranean-inspired specialties range from rib-eye steak to seared scallops to housemade pastas and a grilled vegetable plate; also a Saturday brunch. Closed Sun.-Mon. 1585 Overton Park. 410-8200. L, D, X, $-$$ FRIDA’S—Mexican cuisine and Tex-Mex standards, including chimichangas, enchiladas, and fajitas; seafood includes shrimp and tilapia. 1718 Madison. 244-6196. L, D, X, $-$$ FUEL CAFE—Focus is on natural dishes with such specialties as bison burgers, quinoa chili, and tacos; also vegan and gluten-free options. Closed Sun.-Mon. 1761 Madison. 725-9025. L, D, X, $-$$ GOLDEN INDIA—Northern Indian specialties include tandoori chicken as well as lamb, beef, shrimp, and vegetarian dishes. 2097 Madison. 728-5111. L, D, X, $-$$ GROWLERS—Sports bar and eatery serves standard bar fare in addition to a pasta, tacos, chicken and waffles, and light options. 1911 Poplar. 244-7904. L, D, X, $-$$ HM DESSERT LOUNGE—Serving cake, pie, and other desserts, as well as a selection of savory dishes, including meatloaf and mashed potato “cupcakes.” Closed Monday. 1586 Madison. 290-2099. L, D, X, $ IMAGINE VEGAN CAFE—Dishes at this fully vegan restaurant range from salads and sandwiches to full dinners,
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including eggplant parmesan and “beef” tips and rice; breakfast all day Sat. and Sun. 2158 Young. 654-3455. L, D, WB, X, $ INDIAN PASS RAW BAR—Focus is on fresh Florida Gulf Coast seafood, including raw, Cajun, and char-grilled three-cheese jalapeno oysters, shrimp, and crab legs. 2059 Madison. 207-7397. L, D, X, $-$$ INDIA PALACE—Tandoori chicken, lamb shish kabobs, and chicken tikka masala are among the entrees; also, vegetarian options and a daily all-youcan-eat lunch buffet. 1720 Poplar. 278-1199. L, D, X, $-$$ JASMINE THAI AND VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT—Entrees include panang chicken, green curry shrimp, and pad thai (noodles, shrimp, and peanuts); also vegetarian dishes. Closed Mon.-Tues. 916 S. Cooper. 725-0223. L, D, X, $ LAFAYETTE’S MUSIC ROOM—Serves such Southern cuisine as po boys and shrimp and grits, and wood-fired pizzas. 2119 Madison. 207-5097. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$ LBOE—Gourmet burger joint serves locally sourced ground beef burgers, with options like the Mac-N-Cheese Burger and Caprese. Black bean and turkey patties available. 2021 Madison. 725-0770. L, D, X, $ THE LIQUOR STORE—Renovated liquor store turned diner serves all-day breakfast, sandwiches, and entrees such as Salisbury steak and smothered pork chops. Closed for dinner Sun.-Mon. 2655 Broad. 4055477. B, L, D, X, $-$$ LITTLE ITALY—Serving New York-style pizza as well as subs and pasta dishes. 1495 Union. 725-0280, L, D, X, $-$$ LUCKY CAT RAMEN—Specializes in gourmet ramen bowls, such as Bacon Collards Ramen, made with rich broth. Bao, steamed buns filled with various meats and veggies, also grace the menu. 247 S. Cooper. 633-8296. L, D, X, $-$$ MAMA GAIA—Greek-inspired dishes at this vegetarian eatery include pitas, “petitzzas,” and quinoa bowls. 1350 Concourse Avenue, Suite 137. 203-3838; 2144 Madison. 2142449. B, L, D, X, $-$$ MARDI GRAS MEMPHIS—Serving Cajun fare, including an etouffee-stuffed po’boy. Closed Mon. 496 Watkins. 530-6767. L, D, X, $-$$ MAXIMO’S ON BROAD—Serving a tapas menu that features creative fusion cuisine; entrees include veggie paella and fish of the day. Closed Mon. 2617 Broad Ave. 452-1111. D, SB, X, $-$$ MEMPHIS PIZZA CAFE—Homemade pizzas are specialties; also serves sandwiches, calzones, and salads. 2087 Madison. 726-5343; 5061 Park Ave. 684-1306; 7604 W. Farmington (Germantown). 753-2218; 797 W. Poplar (Collierville). 861-7800; 5627 Getwell (Southaven). 662-5361364. L, D, X, $-$$ MOLLY’S LA CASITA—Homemade tamales, fish tacos, a vegetarian combo, and bacon-wrapped shrimp are a few of the specialties. 2006 Madison. 726-1873. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ NEXT DOOR AMERICAN EATERY—The Kitchen’s sister restaurant serves dishes sourced from American farms. Menu features chorizo bacon dates, spicy gulf shrimp, and dry-aged beef burgers. 1350 Concourse Avenue Suite 165. 779-1512. L, D, X, $ ONIX RESTAURANT—Serves seafood dishes, including barbecued shrimp and pecan-crusted trout, and a variety of salads and sandwiches. Closed Sun. 1680 Madison. 5524609. L, D, X, $-$$ PAYNE’S BAR-B-QUE—Opened in 1972, this family owned barbecue joint serves ribs, smoked sausage, and chopped pork sandwiches with a standout mustard slaw and homemade sauce. About as down-to-earth as it gets. 1762 Lamar. 272-1523. L, D, $-$$ PEI WEI ASIAN DINER—Serves a variety of PanAsian cuisine, including Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Thai. Noodle and rice bowls are specialties; a small plates menu also offered. 1680 Union Ave., #109. 722-3780; 2257 N. Germantown Pkwy. 382-1822. L, D, X, $-$$
CIT Y DINING LIST
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CIT Y DINING LIST PHO BINH—Vietnamese, vegetarian, and Cantonese specialties include lemon tofu and spring rolls. Closed Sunday. 1615 Madison. 276-0006. L, D, $ RAILGARTEN—Located in a former rail station space, this eatery offers breakfast items, a variety of salads and sandwiches, and such entrees as short rib mac-and-cheese and fish tacos. Also serves shakes, malts, floats, and cream sodas. 2166 Central. 231-5043. B, L, D, $-$$ RED FISH ASIAN BISTRO—From the former 19th Century Club building, serves sushi, teriyaki, and hibachi. Specialities include yuzu filet mignon and Chilean seabass. 1433 Union. 454-3926; 9915 Highway 64 (Lakeland). 729-7581; 6518 Goodman (Olive Branch). 662-8745254. L, D, X, $-$$$ RESTAURANT IRIS—French Creole cuisine includes shrimp and delta-grind grits, and New York strip stuffed with fried oysters. Chef Kelly English is a Food and Wine “Top Ten.” Closed Sun. 2146 Monroe. 590-2828. D, X, $$-$$$ ROBATA RAMEN & YAKITORI BAR—Serves ramen noodle bowls and Yakitori skewers as well as rice and noodle dishes. 2116 Madison. 410-8290. L, D, X, $ SABROSURA—Serves Mexican and Cuban fare, including arroz tapada de pollo and steak Mexican. Closed Sun. 782 Washington. 421-8180. L, D, X, $-$$ THE SECOND LINE—Kelly English brings “relaxed Creole cuisine” to his newest eatery; serves a variety of po-boys and such specialties as barbecue shrimp, and andouille, shrimp, and pimento cheese fries. 2144 Monroe. 590-2829. L, D, WB, X, $-$$ SEKISUI—Japanese fusion cuisine, fresh sushi bar, grilled meats and seafood, California rolls, and vegetarian entrees. Poplar/Perkins location’s emphasis is on Pacific Rim cuisine. Menu and hours vary at each location. 25 Belvedere. 725-0005; 1884 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 309-8800; 4724 Poplar (between Perkins & Colonial). 767-7770; 2130 W. Poplar (Collierville). 854-0622; 2990 Kirby-Whitten (Bartlett). 377-2727; 6696 Poplar. 747-0001. L, D, X, $-$$$ STONE SOUP CAFE—Cooper-Young eatery serving soups, salads, quiche, meat-and-two specials; and daily specials such as Italian roast beef. Closed Monday. 993 S. Cooper. 922-5314. B, L, SB, X, $ SOUL FISH CAFE—Serving Southern-style soul food, tacos, and Po Boys, including catfish, crawfish, oyster, shrimp, chicken and smoked pork tenderloin. 862 S. Cooper. 725-0722; 3160 Village Shops Dr. (Germantown). 755-6988; 4720 Poplar. 590-0323. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ SWEET GRASS—Chef Ryan Trimm takes Southern cuisine to a new level. Low-country coastal cuisine includes such specialties as shrimp and grits. Closed Mon. Restaurant’s “sister,” Sweet Grass Next Door, open nightly, serves lunch Sat.-Sun. 937 S. Cooper. 278-0278. D, SB, X, $-$$$ TART—Combination patisserie and coffeehouse serving rustic French specialties, including baked eggs in brioche, topped with Gruyere, and French breads and pastries. One Commerce Square, 40 S. Main #150. 421-6276. B, L, WB, X, $-$$ TROLLEY STOP MARKET—Serves plate lunches/dinners as well as pizzas, salads, and vegan/vegetarian entrees; a specialty is the locally raised beef burger. Also sells fresh produce and goods from local farmers; delivery available. Saturday brunch; closed Sunday. 704 Madison. 526-1361. L, D, X, $ TSUNAMI—Features Pacific Rim cuisine (Asia, Australia, South Pacific, etc.); also a changing “small plate” menu. Chef Ben Smith is a Cooper-Young pioneer. Specialties include Asian nachos and roasted sea bass. Closed Sunday. 928 S. Cooper. 274-2556. D, X, $$-$$$
SOUTH MEMPHIS (INCLUDES
PARKWAY VILLAGE, FOX MEADOWS, SOUTH MEMPHIS, WINCHESTER, AND WHITEHAVEN)
COLETTA’S—Longtime eatery serves such specialties as homemade ravioli, lasagna, and pizza with barbecue or traditional toppings. 1063 S. Parkway E. 948-7652; 2850 Appling Rd. (Bartlett). 383-1122. L, D, X, $-$$
CURRY BOWL—Specializes in Southern Indian cuisine, serving Tandoori chicken, biryani, tikka masala, and more. Weekend buffet. 4141 Hacks Cross. 207-6051. L, D, $ DELTA’S KITCHEN—The premier restaurant at The Guest House at Graceland serves Elvis-inspired dishes — like Nutella and Peanut Butter Crepes for breakfast — and upscale Southern cuisine — including lamb chops and shrimp and grits — for dinner. 3600 Elvis Presley Blvd. 443-3000. B, D, X, $-$$$ DWJ KOREAN BARBECUE—This authentic Korean eatery serves kimbap, barbecued beef short ribs, rice and noodles dishes, and hot pots and stews. 3750 Hacks Cross, Suite 101. 746-8057; 2156 Young. 207-6204. L, D, $-$$ THE FOUR WAY—Legendary soul-food establishment dishing up such entrees as fried and baked catfish, chicken, and turkey and dressing, along with a host of vegetables and desserts. Around the corner from the legendary Stax Studio. Closed Monday. 998 Mississippi Blvd. 507-1519. L, D, $ INTERSTATE BAR-B-Q—Specialties include chopped pork-shoulder sandwiches, ribs, hot wings, spaghetti, chicken, and turkey. 2265 S. Third. 775-2304; 150 W. Stateline Rd. (Southaven). 662-393-5699. L, D, X, $-$$ LEONARD’S—Serves wet and dry ribs, barbecue sandwiches, spaghetti, catfish, homemade onion rings, and lemon icebox pie; also a lunch buffet. 5465 Fox Plaza. 360-1963. L, X, $-$$ MARLOWE’S—In addition to its signature barbecue and ribs, Marlowe’s serves Southern-style steaks, chops, lasagne, and more. 4381 Elvis Presley Blvd. 332-4159. D, X, MRA, $-$$ UNCLE LOU’S FRIED CHICKEN—Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives for good reason: fried chicken (mild, hot, or home-style); jumbo burgers four patties high; strawberry shortcake, and assorted fruit pies. 3633 Millbranch. 332-2367. L, D, X, MRA, $
SUMMER/BERCLAIR/ RALEIGH/BARTLETT ASIAN PALACE—Chinese eatery serves seafood, vegetarian items, dim sum, and more. 5266 Summer Ave. 766-0831. L, D, X, $-$$ ELWOOD’S—Casual comfort food includes tacos, pizza and sandwiches. Specialties include meats smoked in-house (chicken, turkey, brisket, pork), barbecue pizza and steelhead trout tacos. 4523 Summer. 761-9898. B, L, D, X, $ EXLINES’ BEST PIZZA—Serves pizza, Italian dinners, sandwiches, and salads. 6250 Stage Rd. 382-3433; 2935 Austin Peay. 388-4711; 2801 Kirby Parkway. 754-0202; 7730 Wolf River Blvd. (Germantown). 753-4545; 531 W. Stateline Rd. 662-342-4544 (check online for additional locations). L, D, X, MRA, $ GRIDLEY’S—Offers barbecued ribs, shrimp, pork plate, chicken, and hot tamales; also daily lunch specials. Closed Tues. 6842 Stage Rd. 377-8055. L, D, X, $-$$ LA TAQUERIA GUADALUPANA—Fajitas and quesadillas are just a few of the authentic Mexican entrees offered here. A bona-fide Memphis institution. 4818 Summer. 685-6857; 5848 Winchester. 365-4992. L, D, $ LOTUS—Authentic Vietnamese-Asian fare, including lemon-grass chicken and shrimp, egg rolls, Pho soup, and spicy Vietnamese vermicelli. 4970 Summer. 682-1151. D, X, $ MORTIMER’S—Contemporary American entrees include trout almondine, chicken dishes, and hand-cut steaks; also sandwiches, salads, and daily/nightly specials. A Memphis landmark since the Knickerbocker closed. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. 590 N. Perkins. 761-9321. L, D, X, $-$$ NAGASAKI INN—Chicken, steak, and lobster are among the main courses; meal is cooked at your table. 3951 Summer. 454-0320. D, X, $$
PANDA GARDEN—Sesame chicken and broccoli beef are among the Mandarin and Cantonese entrees; also seafood specials and fried rice. Closed for lunch Saturday. 3735 Summer. 323-4819. L, D, X, $-$$ QUEEN OF SHEBA—Featuring Middle Eastern favorites and Yemeni dishes such as lamb haneeth and saltah. 4792 Summer. 207-4174. L, D, $ SIDE PORCH STEAK HOUSE—In addition to steak, the menu includes chicken, pork chops, and fish entrees; homemade rolls are a specialty. Closed Sun.-Mon. 5689 Stage Rd. 377-2484. D, X, $-$$
UNIVERSITY NEIGHBORHOOD DISTRICT (INCLUDES CHICKASAW GARDENS AND HIGHLAND STRIP)
A-TAN—Serves Chinese and Japanese hibachi cuisine, complete with sushi bar. A specialty is Four Treasures with garlic sauce. 3445 Poplar, Suite 17, University Center. 452-4477. L, D, X, $-$$$ THE BLUFF—New Orleans-inspired menu includes alligator bites, nachos topped with crawfish and andouille, gumbo, po’boys, and fried seafood platters. 535 S. Highland. 454-7771. L, D, X, $-$$ BROTHER JUNIPER’S—This little cottage is a breakfast mecca, offering specialty omelets, including the open-faced San Diegan omelet; also daily specials, and homemade breads and pastries. Closed Mon. 3519 Walker. 3240144. B, X, $ CHAR RESTAURANT—Specializing in modern Southern cuisine, this eatery offers homestyle sides, char-broiled steaks, and fresh seafood. 431 S. Highland, #120. 249-3533. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$ DERAE RESTAURANT—Ethiopian and Mediterranean fare includes fuul, or fava beans in spices and yogurt, goat meat and rice, and garlic chicken over basmati rice with cilantro chutney; also salmon and tilapia. Closed Monday. 923 S. Highland. 552-3992. B, L, D, $-$$ EL PORTON—Fajitas, quesadillas, and steak ranchero are just a few of the menu items. 2095 Merchants Row (Germantown). 754-4268; 8361 Highway 64. 380-7877; 3448 Poplar, Poplar Plaza. 452-7330; 1805 N. Germantown Parkway (Cordova). 624-9358; 1016 W. Poplar (Collierville). 854-5770. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ JOES’ ON HIGHLAND—Specializes in fried chicken and comfort sides such as warm okra/green tomato salad and turnip greens. Entrees include salmon patties and chicken fried steak. Closed Mon. 262 S. Highland. 337-7003. L, D, X, $ MEDALLION—Offers steaks, seafood, chicken, and pasta entrees. Closed for dinner Sunday. 3700 Central, Holiday Inn (Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality). 678-1030. B, L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ ROCK’N DOUGH PIZZA CO.—Specialty and custom pizzas made from fresh ingredients; wide variety of toppings. 3445 Poplar Ave., Ste. 1. 512-6760; 7850 Poplar, #6 (Germantown). 779-2008. L, D, SB, X, $$
OUT-OF-TOWN TACKER’S SHAKE SHACK—This family-run establishment offers plate lunches, catfish dinners, homemade desserts, and a variety of hamburgers, including a mac ‘n’ cheese-topped griddle burger. Closed Sun. 409 E. Military Rd. (Marion, AR). 870-739-3943. B, L, D, $ BONNE TERRE—This inn’s cafe features American cuisine with a Southern flair, and a seasonal menu that changes monthly. Offers Angus steaks, duck, pasta, and seafood. Closed Sun.-Wed. 4715 Church Rd. W. (Nesbit, MS). 662-781-5100. D, X, $-$$$ BOZO’S HOT PIT BAR-B-Q—Barbecue, burgers, sandwiches, and subs. 342 Hwy 70 (Mason, TN). 901-294-3400. L, D, $-$$ CATFISH BLUES—Serving Delta-raised catfish and Cajunand Southern-inspired dishes, including gumbo and fried green tomatoes. 210 E. Commerce (Hernando, MS). 662-298-3814. L, D, $ CITY GROCERY—Southern eclectic cuisine; shrimp and grits is a specialty. Closed for dinner Sunday. 152 Courthouse Square (Oxford, MS). 662-232-8080. L, D, SB, X, $$-$$$
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CIT Y DINING LIST COMO STEAKHOUSE—Steaks cooked on a hickory charcoal grill are a specialty here. Upstairs is an oyster bar. Closed Sun. 203 Main St. (Como, MS). 662-526-9529. D, X, $-$$$ LONG ROAD CIDER CO.—Specializes in hard apple ciders made with traditional methods. Cafe-style entrees include black eye peas with cornbread and greens, chicken Gorgonzola pockets, cider-steamed sausage, and housemade ice creams. Closed Sun.-Wed. 9053 Barret Road. (Barretville, TN). 352-0962. D, X, $ MANILA FILIPINO RESTAURANT—Entrees include pork belly cutlet with lechon sauce, and shrimp and vegetables in tamarind broth; also daily combos, rice dishes, and chef specials. Closed Sun.-Mon. 7849 Rockford (Millington, TN). 209-8525. L, D, X, $ MARSHALL STEAKHOUSE—Rustic steakhouse serves premium Angus beef steaks, seafood dishes, rack of lamb, and more. Breakfast menu features griddle cakes, and lunch offerings include hamburger steak and oyster po’ boys. 2379 Highway 178 (Holly Springs, MS). 628-3556. B, L, D, X, $-$$$
CASINO TABLES BOURBON STREET STEAKHOUSE & GRILL AT SOUTHLAND PARK—1550 Ingram Blvd., West Memphis, AR, 1-800-467-6182. CHICAGO STEAKHOUSE AT THE GOLDSTRIKE—1010 Casino Center Dr., Robinsonville, MS, 1-888-24KSTAY /662-357-1225. FAIRBANKS AT THE HOLLYWOOD—1150 Casino Strip Blvd., Robinsonville, MS, 1-800-871-0711. JACK BINION’S STEAK HOUSE AT HORSESHOE—1021 Casino Center Drive, Robinsonville, MS, 1-800-303-SHOE. LUCKY 8 ASIAN BISTRO AT HORSESHOE—1021 Casino Center Drive, Robinsonville, MS, 1-800-303-SHOE. SAMMY HAGAR’S RED ROCKER BAR & GRILL AT SOUTHLAND PARK—1550 Ingram Blvd., West Memphis, AR, 1-870-735-3670 ext. 5208 THE STEAKHOUSE AT THE FITZ —711 Lucky Ln., Robinsonville, MS, 1-888-766-LUCK, ext 8213. MEMPHIS BARBECUE COMPANY—Offers spare ribs, baby backs, and pulled pork and brisket, along with such sides as mac and cheese, grits, and red beans. 709 Desoto Cove (Horn Lake, MS). 662-536-3762. L, D, X, $-$$ NAGOYA—Offers traditional Japanese cuisine and sushi bar; specialties are teriyaki and tempura dishes. 7075 Malco Blvd., Suite 101 (Southaven, MS). 662-349-8788. L, D, X, $-$$$ PANCHO’S—Serves up a variety of Mexican standards, including tacos, enchiladas, and mix-and-match platters; also lunch specials. 3600 E. Broadway (West Memphis, AR). 870-7356466. 717 N. White Station. 685-5404. L, D, X, MRA, $ PIG-N-WHISTLE—Offers pork shoulder sandwiches, wet and dry ribs, catfish, nachos, and stuffed barbecue potatoes. 6084 Kerr-Rosemark Rd. (Millington, TN). 872-2455. L, D, X, $ RAVEN & LILY—Eatery offers innovative Southern cuisine with such dishes as onion ring and pork rind salad, chipotle hot chicken with spiced cabbage, and shrimp and grits benedict. Closed for lunch Monday. 7700 Highway 64 (Oakland, TN). 2357300. L, D, SB, X, $-$$ RAVINE—Serves contemporary Southern cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, locally grown foods and a menu that changes weekly. Closed Mon.-Tues. 53 Pea Ridge/County Rd. 321 (Oxford, MS). 662-234-4555. D, SB, X, $$-$$$ STEAK BY MELISSA—Aged, choice-grade, hand-cut steaks are a specialty here. Also serving fresh seafood dishes, plate lunches, burgers, and sandwiches. 4975 Pepper Chase Dr. (Southaven, MS). 662-342-0602. L, D, WB, X, $-$$$ WILSON CAFE—Serving elevated home-cooking, with such dishes as deviled eggs with cilantro and jalapeno, scampi and grits, and doughnut bread pudding. 2 N. Jefferson (Wilson, AR). 870-655-0222. L, D (Wed. through Sat. only), X, $-$$$
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If Not For Hope The long struggle for civil rights is far from over.
didn’t have to face blatant racism growing up. I had a good education at a diverse Memphis public school. I could sit where I wanted in movie theaters, and I could drink from any water fountain I chose to drink from.
I was fortunate. It’s really hard mountaintop that King spoke of to wrap my head around the re- in his final speech is in sight and ality that, just 60 years ago, peo- we are farther from the bottom ple who looked like me wouldn’t than we have ever been. However, we know that mounhave been able to enjoy basic freedoms like these. taintops aren’t reached overnight I couldn’t imagine living nor without a climb filled with through that. struggle, resistance, and a little We have come a long way since pain. Dr. King knew that and he was not deterred. Instead Dr. King’s time — but don’t get me wrong — we still aren’t there. he prevailed over racial tension Yet, we can’t deny the progress and hate-fueled discrimination made in this country when the so that one day people of color fruits of change are evident. could live in an equal America. Sixty years ago, black men were He did the hard work all those probably the most disenfran- years ago. He did the work that chised subgroup in America. A we probably couldn’t fathom doblack man’s vote back then was ing today. Now it’s time for this irrelevant and in many places non- generation of Americans to finish existent. But since then, a black King’s work. We have come far, man has been elected to hold the but not quite far enough. country’s most powerful position Hope will get us there, though. as the leader of the free world. Ten years ago, on the 40th anMajor progress has been made niversary of Dr. Martin Luther since the heart of the Civil Rights King Jr.’s death, on the cusp of movement in all areas: politics, Barack Obama’s historic election, business, education, legislation, “The Uncertainty of Hope” was entertainment, and media. The the title on this last page, written
by Larry Conley, who had previ- a one-in-three chance of being ously been editor of this maga- incarcerated. The laws that guarzine. (See page 12 for his essay in antee everyone fundamental civil this month’s issue.) rights cannot protect against the Conley’s piece touched on the remnants of an unjust system that uncertainty of hoping for some- was in place for centuries. thing better when you know While black communities what you know and have seen across this country are strugwhat you’ve seen. And though gling to catch up, unfortunately hope does breed uncertainty, it other groups are also experiencing inequality. Muslims, Latinos, is a strong force that can propel us all into action. Hope would and immigrants from all over the not be hope without some un- world, like African Americans, certainty, for why would we hope understand what it’s like to be for what we alstereotyped, “Other groups are also misunderstood, ready can see? If Barack and denied opexperiencing inequality. Obama had no portunities. Muslims, Latinos, and hope for the T h i s mu st immigrants from all f uture, then s to p . T he r e his campaign must be fewover the world, like for presidency er walls and African Americans, more bridges might have nevbetween comer begun. understand what it’s If Martin munities. There like to be stereotyped, Luther K ing is common misunderstood, and and others had ground among never hoped for all of us; we denied opportunities.” a better, equal just have to be life, they would have never even intentional about finding it and dared to begin fighting for it. If celebrating it when we do. not for hope, we’d never have Because if we are not careful, come this far. the hate that once starkly dividToday, 54 years since the Civil ed this country will resurface. As Rights Act was passed and 50 Dr. King said, “Darkness cannot years since Dr. King was shot drive out darkness; only light can while standing on the Lorraine do that. Hate cannot drive out Motel balcony, killed as a direct re- hate; only love can do that.” sult of his hope-driven pursuit for Perhaps 50 years from now people will look back on 2018, equality, we must find that same hope King and other civil rights and they will find it hard to wrap pioneers before us possessed. their heads around today’s injusBecause there is still work to tices, because they will be a thing be done. of the past. We still have a ways to go, but As we remember the legacy of Dr. King, we should ask our- I’m hopeful that we shall overselves, “Is this the America he come and see the actual moundreamed of?” taintop, one day soon. My guess is that it’s not. Black men might no longer A graduate of White Station face the wrath of unleashed po- High School and the University of Memphis School of Journalism, lice dogs and water hoses, but in 2018 they must endure ste- Maya Smith is a staff writer for the Memphis Flyer. reotyping, police brutality, and
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN IRWIN | DREAMSTIME
by maya smith
112 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • A P R I L 2 0 1 8
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