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In This Issue
HEY MYRON To Check or Not to Check
SOUL STIRRERS A new Leader in Orange Mound
SOUL TALKS Calm, Courageous, and Classy â€“ Meet Fred Jones
UMATTER Great Aspirations at Melrose High
4 | Southern Soul l September 2014
In This Issue
LIFESTYLES Brewing Up a Storm
ENTERTAINMENT Pyramid Memories with Moten
FASHION Looking Good on the way to the Classic
COMMUNITY Finding Fortitude in the Face of the Michael Brown Tragedy
Southern Soul l September 2014 | 5
PUBLISHER/CEO Chris Boyd
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Toni Harvey
EXECUTIVE EDITOR B. Henderson
ART DIRECTOR Jada Thompson
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Darius B. Williams
GRAPHIC DESIGNER Ryan D. Stewart
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Gwen Blount Pepper Lewis Myron Mays Annie Reed Dr. Stacy L. Spencer
Southern Soul Magazine is a monthly publication of MAAC Media Group, LLC and is distributed in locations throughout the Memphis/ Mid-South area. Annual subscriptions are available for $29.95 (twelve issues). Readership: 70,000 ©2014 by MAAC Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved. The publisher assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials and does not return unsolicited materials to sender. Photography and images obtained for editorial usage is owned by Southern Soul Magazine and may not be released for commercial use such as in advertisements. Reproduction in whole or in part without the publisher’s consent is strictly prohibited. The opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the positions or views of the editor or publisher. The publication of any advertisement in this issue does not constitute an endorsement of the advertiser’s products or services by this publication.
MAAC Media Group, LLC | PO Box 382808 | Germantown, TN 38183 | Phone 901.366.SOUL (7685)
Southern Soul l September 2014 | 7
C L A S S I C
W E E K E N D
Thursday, Sept. 11 • 8 p.m. Orpheum Theatre Starring Empress of Soul
GLADYS KNIGHT with special guest Jammin Jay Lamont
CLASSIC MUSIC FESTIVAL Friday, Sept. 12 • 7:30 p.m. Landers Center Classic performances by
CHARLIE WILSON with Joe and Mint Condition
CLASSIC COMEDY JAM Friday, Sept. 12 • 8 p.m. Orpheum Theatre Get your laugh on with
including Dominique, Cocoa Brown and Jammin Jay Lamont
SOUTHERN HERITAGE CLASSIC
Saturday, Sept. 13 • 6 p.m. Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Traditional football rivals
JACKSON STATE TENNESSEE STATE
Tickets on sale at Ticketmaster outlets, or online at ticketmaster.com. To charge by phone, call 1-800-745-3000.
For more information, visit www.southernheritageclassic.com
Letter From The Publisher
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – President Barack Obama
Greetings and welcome to Southern Soul Magazine. I am honored to welcome you to our Inaugural issue. It’s all about change, and change is constant! Change is a part of our natural growth and progression. There has never been a greater need for black-oriented media dedicated to a continuous and accurate prognosis of black experiences and lifestyles in the Mid-South. Our kids grow up and go to college, fashion and style evolve every season, new restaurants and salons open almost every week, technology changes daily, and now, we bring the Mid-South a new, vibrant magazine dedicated to showcasing positive lifestyles of Mid-South families of color - Southern Soul Magazine. What sets us apart is our commitment to relevant, community and Mid-South-driven content. We want to feature the things that truly make the Mid-South a wonderful place to live, work, and play. We will provide insightful and quality coverage of the best of our Families, Communities, Lifestyles and Culture. As you flip through our pages, please remember we are a work in progress. We urge you to read the stories and share with others the things that are unique about our community. The Mid-South is where we live, laugh and celebrate life and Southern Soul Magazine is where you will see it all unfold. Together with the help of my Editor-In-Chief, Toni Harvey, our great staff, and an exciting team of contributors, we intend to grow our publication over the next several months. We welcome your submissions, calendar events, your thoughts, and, most of all, your support. Thank you for taking the time to read Southern Soul Magazine. We hope you will support the businesses that have chosen to partner with us this month. We appreciate them and look forward to partnering with many others in our October issue.
Southern Soul l September 2014 | 9
Meet Dr. Stacy Spencer Senior Pastor, New Direction Christian Church A native of Olmstead, KY, Dr. Spencer is a tech-savvy pastor who ministers to thousands utilizing social media websites such as FaceBook, Twitter, Blogspot and YouTube.
Dr. Stacy L. Spencer serves as Senior Pastor of New Direction Christian Church leading a membership of more than 7,000 members with three campuses in the Memphis area; one campus in Dutwya, South Africa; and in Holly Springs, MS.
10 | Southern Soul l September 2014
Dr. Spencer is the author of Naked and Unashamed: The Journey Sexual Fulfillment in Christian Marriage; U-Turn: 12 Step Guide to Spiritual Transformation; with meditations published in 365 Meditations for Men by Men and sermons published in the 2001 African American Pulpit. As Chairman, Board of Directors,
for the Power Center Community Development Corporation, Dr. Spencer founded the Power Center Academy, a Shelby County Schools Charter School; and serves as an officer of Power Center Enterprises, parent company of Soul Cafe restaurant and Fillinâ€™ Station and Fillinâ€™ Station II Bookstores. He and his wife, Rhonda, are the proud parents of 4 sons: Calvin, Omari, Jordan and Jaden Lynn.
It’s Time For Something New! A Message from: Dr. Stacy Spencer, Senior Pastor, New Direction Christian Church
Isaiah 43:19 For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
I was standing in the middle of the tall overgrown grass on our 43 acres looking at the future spot of Eden Square Town Center. I could sense so much peace there. Looking at the plants sprouting through the cracks in the concrete I could see new buildings springing up. Looking at the pond and the fish jumping up to feed on the insects I could see our scholars at the wetland observatory. Standing in the middle of that desert I saw God doing a new thing. Where you’re standing, can you see God? It may not look like much to you right now but can you see God? Other people gave up on it but you see God in it. I think God is asking you this right now: “I’m doing a new thing! Don’t you see it?” In order to see God in a deserted place you have to have Vision. Vision is the ability to see divine potential where other people only see devastation. Without a vision the people perish. God says, “I’m doing something new...”
I’ve already begun!
God is doing it right now. The thing you’ve been praying about. The thing you’ve been hoping for. The thing you’ve been dreaming of. It’s happening right now and
you don’t even realize it. Don’t allow the wilderness to make you miss seeing the promise!
pressing and keep digging. There is a well waiting to Spring up inside of you.
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
God thank you for doing something new in a place I almost gave up in. This next season I’m glad you are developing a place of sustainability. Everybody who doubted me and doubted you will have to marvel at the new thing you are doing in my wilderness experience. I’m excited to see what the end is going to be!
One poet said, “the good thing about the desert is that somewhere there is hidden a well.” God is making a way for you in the wilderness but you have to have the perseverance to look for the way or the well.
I will create rivers in the wasteland.
God is about to create new streams of income in the place you thought had dried out. The place where other people left because they thought the rivers had dried up. In actuality God is about to open up new possibilities for you to get income in places you didn’t expect. This time there will be multiple streams of income. As a Visionary you just can’t stop with one stream. Imagine for yourself multiple streams of income. What untapped talent or tributary have you overlooked that might lead to you making a way in the desert?
In Jesus Name, Amen
It’s time for a New Direction in your life. It’s time for you to begin again. Whatever you do, don’t give up in the desert - keep Southern Soul l September 2014 | 11
Thank you for allowing Southern Soul Magazine into your homes, lives, workplace, and community. We are extremely excited to be here! I hope with each issue, we will heighten your spirits and move your soul while reminding you of the exceptional people and extraordinary actions in our community. Southern Soul Magazine will highlight the best of us; celebrate our traditions, heritage and culture; enjoy our lifestyles; encourage your dreams; and, expand your horizons. My hope is that with every issue you will discover new experiences, get inspired, become more informed, and find opportunities to better yourself and our community. Our Inaugural Issue is a new beginning and a fresh mark in the fabric of our community. We couldn’t have found a better way to start our first issue than the message from Dr. Stacy Spencer guiding us through something new. We also wanted our Inaugural Issue to celebrate something remarkable and you will find it in the phenomenal story of Fred Jones and the Southern Heritage Classic. He openly shares his struggles and successes with panache. The Classic wouldn’t be the same without tailgating, so we included tailgating tips and tailgating specialty brews. In this issue, you’ll have the pleasure of meeting our unsung hero, Principal Neal and our community leader, Senator-Elect Lee Harris. You will be profoundly touched reading a mother’s fear raised in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s unjustified murder in Ferguson, Missouri. There is relationship advice from our local celebrity, Myron Mays, and, for the fashionistas, ideas for heading to the Classic, tailgating, or the after-parties. Hopefully you will find Southern Soul Magazine to be a bold, visually appealing, thought provoking, and entertaining magazine. We are excited to give you a great magazine. We know you will enjoy us each month. Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this issue and supported our launch. I am immensely grateful for my family, our staff, and all the hearts, hands, and hopes that made this work in progress possible.
Editor-In-Chief Southern Soul l September 2014 | 13
A Visit with Senator-Elect Lee Harris By: Toni Harvey Photography: Darius B Williams
him for ten minutes catches the excitement.
retained the majority of the political seats. This harsh reality sent echoing resonations Lee Harris currently serves as a throughout Shelby County where member of the Memphis City the population of the district Council. Since joining, he has been is sixty-nine percent African an advocate for neighborhoods, American and sixty-three percent parks, public safety, and youth Democrat. But, perhaps a more intervention. During his tenure crystal cacophony is the fall of with the Council, he has bowled the Tennessee Ford Political through many traditional barriers Lee Harrisis a native Memphian, Dynasty in District 29. With 43% to create “new-deal-like” ordinances the son of a retired Mitchell High of the vote, on August 7, 2014, protecting his constituency and School guidance counselor and Lee Harris successfully pierced developing city-wide neighborhood a heating and air conditioning the Tennessee Ford political and education improvements. repairman. Lee is the proud dynasty. The Ford family has Harris represents his district product of the Shelby County been one of the strongest political with enthusiasm, dedication, (formerly Memphis City) School machines in Tennessee’s history. system; received his undergraduate involvement, and transparency. The Ford family’s political Now, he will pack those traits and degree from Morehouse College dynasty dates back to 1880 when and his law degree from Yale; and, transport them to Nashville as a Newton Ford held office as a upon graduation took an associate member of the Tennessee General County Squire for Shelby County. professor position at the University Assembly Senate representing the Collectively, the Fords have held 29th District. of Memphis Law School. Harris political offices, for more than and his wife, Alena, are the proud 150 years; quite a formidable fact Last month, Shelby County parents of two children, Lee Allen Democrats took a disheartening no one can overlook. Yet, with and Claudia. He and his wife are few yard signs and a splattering trouncing at the polls. excited about this move as a public Republicans swept the campaigns of campaign t-shirts, Lee Harris servant... his constituents are unseated the last Ford dynasty capturing the vast majority excited... and, anyone that sits with remnant in Nashville. percentage of the votes and One has to put on running shoes to keep up with Democratic Senator-Elect Lee Harris. He is a whirling bundle of energy dashing through Shelby County on his way to Nashville. As soon as he enters the room, you get the feeling he is about business, armed with preparation, and ready to rumble.
14 | Southern Soul l September 2014
“We got 43% of the vote and I’m very proud of that; very proud of the effort we put forward” to remember the district is really large; composed of 200,000 citizens, stretching from Millington all the way to the border of Memphis and Mississippi at State Line Rd. We reached every neighborhood, covered every corner - Millington, Downtown, Whitehaven, South Memphis, and Westwood. “We got 43% of the vote and I’m very proud of that; very proud of the effort we put forward. I’m actually thankful and also proud of the campaign the other candidates ran. I think they all ran very respectful campaigns. I think they all ran with class and dignity and I think that all of us - Ricky Dixon, Ms. Ford, and, myself - all left this campaign season with all our dignity intact. We tried to run a very clean campaign and I think, for the most part, they also ran a clean campaign. I think everybody articulated their own message on their own and did what they thought was best to reach out to voters. There weren’t a lot of personal attacks, nobody brought up any personal things; which is very rare. That is not to say there wasn’t some pressure for us to attack our opponents or to do all that type of stuff. We didn’t want to run that kind of campaign. We wanted to run a message on the issues and our general theme of ‘It’s time for a real change.’” Harris humbly points out that his campaign paled in the long shadow cast by the prominent history of Ford presence in the State Legislative seat and to the glaring fact that in the past five decades, a Ford has never lost a reelection. In the next breath, Harris proudly points out what he did have -- he had a message . . . a message he took to the community and District 29. That message was a very simple and straight forward one. It was the message: “Are you ready for change?” Clearly, the community embraced Harris’ message, believed in him and handed the Ford dynasty its first re-election loss. When asked what was his winning strategy, Harris explains “We felt like we touched a lot of voters many times; we touched many communities and campaigned across the district. Of course, you have
With genuine thoughtfulness and consideration, Harris explained that his campaign “didn’t want to smear Ms. Ford. Although we believed this is the time to change and she is the change needed, we respect the fact that Ms. Ford has been in the office for the last 8 years and we know she made a personal sacrifice to be in office. Our message was it is time to go in a different direction.” Across the nation, there is a consistent mantra among voters that some of our politicians stay too long and with that longevity comes complacency and stagnation. Voters are seeking change, fresh methodology, and unwavering action. During his Senate campaign, Harris pushed that envelope. He championed the need for change without issuing an indictment on existing politicians, yet promoting the Southern Soul l September 2014 | 15
“Although Harris will be a beacon of forceful determination and hope [...] he will have a daunting challenge climbing Nashville’s hill.” When arriving in Nashville, Harris must obtain his committee appointment. He has identified education, public safety and healthcare as District 29’s three priority issues. Harris is hopeful he will be appointed to one, if not all, of the associated committees. Committee members are appointed by the Speaker of the Senate, typically with regard to the recommendations of party caucuses, abilities, preferences and seniority. Again, there is a strong likelihood that the Democratic Caucus’ recommendations will reflect some of Harris’ desires. The judiciary committee is responsible for civil and criminal laws and all state court-related matters. message that change is for the better and greater good Harris has indicated the judicial committee is an appointment he would also like to obtain stating; of all. “Given the key decisions made by the judicial Although Harris will be a beacon of forceful committee, my membership would be a great benefit determination and hope for District 29 and will to District 29’s constituents. The current sitting carry many fresh ideas with him, he will have a committee has been very conservative. Senator Brian daunting challenge climbing Nashville’s hill. The Kelsey is the committee chair and his approach to State Senate is overwhelmingly Republican. When date is very conservative, very much in line with some of the Tea Party elements in Tennessee. It’s Harris takes his seat in January, he will be one of eight and possibly nine Democrats looking across important that committee members are law trained or are lawyers offering the best skills and training to the aisle of at least twenty-four Republicans. take up the judiciary mantel. My predecessor, Senator Committees will be chock-full with Republicans [Ophelia] Ford was a member of the current term’s and finding a non-partisan ground will be an judiciary committee and I’m hoping to slip in her insurmountable feat. However, if anyone can find shoes and serve on judiciary.” Harris, one of the two the ground and plant a seed, it is Senator-Elect attorneys elected to the Democratic Caucus, would be Lee Harris. He is a self-proclaimed progressive, an ideal recommendation. middle of the road Democrat, and has shown he travels the road with ease. A review of his The other committee Harris would welcome as voting history as a Memphis City Councilman an appointed member is the finance committee demonstratively evidences his past council votes which is responsible for all state financial and have been reasonable; objective; party-impartial; fiduciary matters; all state funds appropriations; and, taxes. Harris would also be a valuable asset to this issue focused ; effective, and, always true to his committee because he brings years of responsible constituents’ needs. 16 | Southern Soul l September 2014
Community The first order of business for Harris and the Democratic Senators is selecting Party leadership; minority leader and caucus leader. Current minority leader, Senator Jim Kyle, will not return next session as he has been elected to serve as a Shelby County Chancery Court Judge. Current caucus leader, Lowe Finney, also will not return as he lost his seat to Senator-Elect Randy Lamb. Selecting leadership will be interesting and fascinating. Of the incoming Democrats, only two are incumbents. Shelby County, with three members, comprises the largest majority of democratic votes. As such, there is a strong chance Lee Harris may be selected as one of the leaders. Harris plans to meet with other members of the caucus several times before the opening of the January session. This term’s caucus, much like last year’s, is one of the stewardship of public funds and wants tuition to be lower; everyone smallest number of Democrats in Senate history. Harris is optimistic is currently the City of Memphis wants crime to be lower; and about that fact saying “Yes, we City Council’s Chair of the Budget everyone wants people to have Committee overseeing a $626.4 some access to healthcare. My goal are few in numbers, but we have million budget; undertaking heavy is to make incremental gains with members that are all committed debt issues; and handling ongoing respect to those shared interest and and effective. Hopefully we will be able to work well together and pension and benefit issues. then over the long term, we will the silver lining is that we are all see change in Tennessee.” When asked what changes his stakeholders and with progressive constituents could expect. His During Senator-elect Harris’ voices. I believe we will lock arms, response was simple and concise. campaign, he voiced a belief that get our party’s issues and interests “It’s going to be really tough to voters shouldn’t elect bureaucrats; heard and move our party forward. get anything done right away, indeed, people with vision should I am excited and prepared.” but I believe when you try to be elected. Part of his message was make change, it must begin as Democratic Senator-Elect Lee that elected officials need to care an incremental change. It can’t Harris has proven he is an about the community; have a heart be all of sudden. My plan is to effective and powerful advocate for the people; and, have a vision. go to Nashville and try to make of his constituents and the City Harris’ record coupled with his some incremental and small of Memphis. One can predict he mantra along the campaign trail, changes where there is shared will meet many battles climbing touts his community involvement interest among Republicans and Nashville’s hill, but, be assured, he and his desire to be the voice of the Democrats. Shared interests do is prepared and able. exist. Regardless of whether one is community, and now, the voice of District 29, a change is coming! Republican or Democrat, everyone District 29. Southern Soul l September 2014 | 17
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Keeping the Fire Lit By: Pepper Lewis
One problem that many couples face is their passion dwindling as they grow accustomed to each other. That initial spark tends to fade into obscurity, and people find themselves being overwhelmed by the banality of life. What can they do to remedy this descent into a relationship that is mediocre during the best of times? What strategies can they use to make sure the passion in their relationship remains afire? Each day, remind yourself what first attracted you to your significant other. We sometimes forget what it was about our partners that first caused us to feel those butterflies. Some of those endearing idiosyncrasies that at first enchanted us and took our breath away become commonplace, and we forget how special they are. These can range from very simple habits to character traits that we find indispensable. When we find ourselves looking at the person weâ€™re with and feeling
no sense of excitement about the privilege of being with them, we should remind ourselves of these unique traits. Grow with your partner and not away from them. People change, thatâ€™s just part of life, and we should make a concerted effort to grow with our partners during changes. This will help you both understand some of the inner conflicts you may be dealing with. Empathy goes a lot farther than sympathy, and often passion dwindles as a result of one partner feeling alienated from the other. Make sure to do the small things. Do you remember how excited you were when you first met your partner? Can you recall the small things you did for them to show your appreciation? If you want to keep the passion in your relationship well-kindled, you should continue to focus on these small things. All of the little things add up to meaning a lot. Those simple expressions of love and
appreciation demonstrate to your partner that you still care about them, and each endearment goes a long way towards supporting the emotional bonds that passion rely upon. Pay attention to what your partner likes and dislikes. Conflict in relationships can lead to a decrease in passion, and much conflict is the result of simply overlooking those things that your partner cares about. One part of being supportive is showing interest in these things and being willing to put in some work to nurture them. As an example, if your partner likes to go for nightly walks around the neighborhood, make an effort to ensure that the two of you have time to take these walks. Be willing to try new things. This can be both inside the bedroom and outside of it. Many people are turned-off when their significant other is too uptight to try new experiences. This could be anything from a new position in the bedroom Southern Soul l September 2014 | 19
Your partner will likely be able to sense that you are pulling away from them emotionally, and the passion they feel in the security of your relationship will dwindle. Take the time to plan regular special outings with your partner. It may seem simple, but spending time during planned excursions that go outside of your normal activities will help to strengthen the bonds that you’ve already built. This can be something as simple as planning to try a new restaurant every Friday night or can be something as complex as going skydiving together. Sharing these experiences will help the two of you grow closer and build a store of shared memories.
to signing up for ballroom dancing. If you want to keep the passion going, you should be willing to occasionally step outside of your comfort zone to make your significant other happy. Who knows? You may even wind up really liking what they suggest. Beware of your own wandering eye. Stepping outside the relationship is rampant in today’s society and is one of the leading reasons why passion between two people dies. Sometimes the grass can seem greener on the other side; and a person other than your partner can seem like they’re just too great to pass on, but most of the time you’re only aware of a limited amount of information regarding this other person. Once you get to know them better, you’ll likely realize that not only are they not as great as the person who you’re already with, but they actually pale in comparison to them.
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Don’t spend too much time together. It’s important to have your own hobbies or activities that allow you to develop yourself as an individual. The old saying is that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and this is true to a certain extent. We all spend time away from our partners at work, but having a few things that we
Relationships dabble in as a separate individual store. Beautiful people parade also helps to keep that special themselves across our flat screens, person interesting. and being critical of your partner makes them feel inadequate. Don’t Avoid arguing and saying hurtful compare them to others or ask things. Passion is an extension of them why they can’t look more the security and love you feel in like someone else. This will hurt relationships, and insulting your their self-esteem and will destroy partner during a heated argument any desire they have to be intimate does damage to the security that with you. they feel in your relationship. Make-up sex is overrated, and Keeping passion alive in the arguments that are required relationships is difficult, but it is also in order to have make-up sex do very important. Try these tips and significant damage to the psyche of your love life will stay on track and your partner. your passion will flame higher.
“Try these tips and your love life will stay on track and your passion will flame higher.”
Don’t be critical. We live in an age where beautiful people are plastered on the cover of magazines that adorn the checkout lines of every grocery
Southern Soul l September 2014 | 21
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Meet Myron We know love, sex & friendship and, well, just about any relationship in our life can be complicated. Thatâ€™s why weâ€™ve rounded up some of the best relationship advice and tips we could find to help you out. Myron Mays . . .
has dispensed his wit, shared his humor, exuded his love of life, and given passionate pearls of wisdom since 2008 as the host of The Mryon Mays Radio Show. Now Myron delivers sassy advice to help you build and keep loving relationships that are healthy, happy, and satisfying. Look for the Hey Myron column each month!
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Is it ever “OK” to look through your mate’s phone? Even though you’d never admit it, most of you have all been tempted, at some point, to pick up your mate’s phone and scroll through their text messages. Even when they walk away from the computer and you notice that they forgot to log out of Facebook, curiosity has tempted you at least once to take a quick stroll through their inbox to see what they’ve been up to. Don’t be ashamed…you are most certainly not alone. The answer to the question is “Yes.” However, here are 3 reasons. 1. If they give you permission to. 2. If there is something in particular you are looking for. 3. If you are looking for trouble. But take a moment to think about it. The mere fact that you feel like you need to look through your mate’s phone is a signal that there is trouble in the relationship. Ask yourself these questions. Why is there a trust issue? Why haven’t we talked about these issues previously? Communication is key in every relationship! Right? However, there’s a lot to consider in a situation like this. For instance, what do you do when you just so happen to stumble upon what you were looking for? What do you do when you get that confirmation of what your gut has been telling you all along? Are you ready to deal with the information you’re looking for? Are you even willing to accept it if you find that there’s nothing incriminating? Will you trust them all over again? . . . Or, will you be looking again hoping to get lucky at some point? Lastly, you must ask yourself when the mistrust ends. So before you look, be sure you have the 3 reasons.
LETTER TO MYRON Hey Myron, I have been with my boyfriend for about 3 years now. He is a wonderful guy. I recently ran into an old friend and started to keep in touch with him. We ended up going out for lunch one day to catch up on old times. Things sort of led to other things and I ended up at his house a couple of days later. He started to kiss on me and I could not help myself, I kissed him back and although we came very close to having sex, we only kissed and fondled. I feel so guilty. Although we did not actually have sex, I feel like I have cheated on my boyfriend. I cannot even look him in the eye anymore. I can’t help but to feel like he can see right through me. Should I come clean and tell him or should I break ties with my old friend and try to get past it? (Worried) Dear Worried,
I hate to tell you bad news, but yes you cheated. And if your boyfriend was in the same situation, he would be cheating as well. If you love your boyfriend, I would suggest you break ties with your old friend. He is trouble. I think if the two of you spend more time together, you WILL end up having sex with him. Plus, in your heart you probably knew it wasn’t a very good idea to reconnect with this guy anyway. Also, I can’t tell you if you should come clean or
not. That would be up to you. You know what kind of person he is and how he would take it. I wouldn’t want to read about you. You always have to remember -- would you want your mate to do the same thing to you? Would you want him to keep secrets from you? However, if you are comfortable with it and do not want to tell him, I say keep it to yourself and try to make a better decision in the future.
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Melrose’s Quiet Storm By: Annie Reed Photography: Darius B Williams
Soft spoken, intense, and commanding; a rare combination, but one that can be found in Melrose High School’s new principal, Mark Neal. A native of Tipton County and graduate of UT Martin, Mr. Neal began his professional career in August of 2000 at Millington Central High School spending eight years as a teacher, three years as the assistant principal, and the last three years as principal. Shelby County
catapulted into the 2013 school year with political maneuvering; merging; demerging; and restructuring. As a result, several placement opportunities became available across the school system including Melrose’s principal position. Melrose High is an urban school with a strong cultural environment and community involvement. Mr. Neal, wanting to get back to his true calling of working in
an urban environment with urban students, particularly young black males, jumped at the opportunity to become the new leader at Melrose. After completing a lengthy 4-step application process; undergoing several interviews with the Shelby County’s Superintendent; Tennessee’s Regional Superintendent; i-Zone committee; and, Melrose alumni, Mr. Neal was selected as Melrose’s new principal. Southern Soul l September 2014 | 27
Prior to Mr. Neal’s acceptance, Melrose was added to the i-Zone school list. I-Zone schools are schools that are in the lowest-performing 5% of schools in Tennessee, in terms of academic achievement. I-Zone schools must, within five years, meet turnaround requirements of improving student achievement and reaching the state schools 25% performance level. I-Zone schools give greater attention to remedies that will increase academic performance through various improvement models. We caught up with Principal Neal at the end of this school year’s second week and asked to get his impression on Melrose’s future. Consistent with his optimism, Neal responded, “It has been a very positive two weeks; very rewarding and refreshing. The students have been fabulous and there has been minimal to no pushback. I expect great things from our students.” Melrose is a school steeped in traditions. Mr. Neal fully embraces those traditions and wants to celebrate and encourage continuing each while, at the same time, standing firm to his core mission that Melrose needs a turnaround and must raise its academic bar while diligently assuring that all aspects of Melrose holds the students accountable and has all students improving academically. Principal Neal arrived at Melrose armed with his track record as principal at Millington Central 28 | Southern Soul l September 2014
High School where he garnered a level-5 school title, which is the highest academic growth performance level. With him, Neal brought what he identifies as his greatest resource – eleven teachers, several administrators, and two counsellors from Millington. He points out that he knew he must begin with quality instructors to spark the growth and turnaround Melrose needs. Retaining quality instructors previously at Melrose; bringing the best of the best from Millington; and, hiring other key instructors, Neal transformed eighty percent of Melrose’s staff. Mr. Neal is proud of his accomplishments at Millington Central High School. But, he is just as proud of his new home and is totally committed to Melrose and the Orange Mound Community. Neal and his staff are determined for Melrose to excel and keep in alignment with Superintendent Hopson’s 80/90/100 plan. Neal adds, “We are really pushing students to post-secondary opportunities and with programs like TN Promise and tnAchieves; every student can leave high school and move forward to a two year institution for free. We are committed to providing information and opportunities to ensure our students receive quality education and prepare them to score college benchmarks on the ACT. We are not going to offer a program that doesn’t directly correlate into a career path. It’s pointless to offer something that’s not going to become a career, a job, or, a track to a university.
Soul Stirrer Mr. Neal believes the biggest hurdle ahead for Melrose is to make significant gains in English Language Arts, which equates to basic literacy. At the end of last school year, Melrose had very low academic scores with English as the lowest area. Meeting this challenge headon, Neal has implemented a strategic three-week cyclical matrix of testing; assessments; past test data comparatives; data desegregation; needs planning; plan implementation; and, retesting. At the end of each three-week period, his staff conducts a small common assessment to gauge what the students have mastered as well as what they have not mastered. What was not mastered, he and the staff return to the strategic matrix and determine how to redeliver the lesson, not just do it again, but deliver the lesson in a different manner. Thus, there is a constant three-week cycle of teaching, assessing, re-teaching and re-assessing. His goal with this turnaround approach is to spark growth and make
significant gains in the end of the year test scores. Under Principal Neal’s initial strategic plan, many of the honors and AP courses were eliminated. The second phase will incrementally increase the numbers of honors and AP courses to challenge Melrose’s high performing students and push them to college readiness. Another element of Neal’s strategic plan is the implementation of intervention programs to assist the students with the lowest academic scores or who may be off grade-level and give them hope or a shot at catching up. The i-Zone program requires an extended hour school day. Neal uses the additional hour to give teachers adequate time to deliver the new rigor. Class periods are now sixty minutes in length versus forty-seven minutes. The additional minutes allow teachers to teach with more depth. Another method Neal employs with the additional time is to schedule students into a study
hall where teachers can perform pull-out interventions. Pull-out interventions allow the lower performing students additional time to work on areas needing attention and offer incentives to higher performing students to be utilized as student monitors or class leaders. For example, a student could be placed in study hall to gain a double dose of mathematics or English Language Arts to help promote his/her growth. Aware of the five-year turnaround mandate, Mr. Neal acknowledges the focus and weight of the turnaround falls to the 9th and 10th graders as well as the next year’s incoming class (8th graders). He is very optimistic about the incoming classes because he believes one of the greatest assets for upcoming years is Melrose’s feeder school, Sherwood Middle, which is also an i-Zone school. Neal explained that Sherwood’s principal, Corey Kelly, is doing wonderful things and Sherwood has made significant growth
“Another element of Neal’s strategic plan is the implementation of intervention programs to assist the students with the lowest academic scores or who may be off grade-level and give them hope or a shot at catching up.”
Southern Soul l September 2014 | 29
“Principal Neal has set a plan in motion to promote Melrose.”
and gains in the years under Mr. Kelly’s leadership. Neal believes this year’s Melrose 9th grade class will surpass the i-Zone criteria primarily because the students arriving from Sherwood bring with them an improved skill-set; familiarity with the extended school hours; and, are accustomed to the increased rigor that i-Zone teachers deliver. Some staff members have already identified the Sherwood students as some of the best and brightest 9th graders. Although the 12th graders are the out-going students and will not have full benefit from Neal’s strategic improvement plan, Neal is focused on strengthening their academics and has asked the students to: buy-in to the change; seize the new expectations; embrace the new rigor and structure; and, know that although they are on their way out, they are the class that ignited the growth. During the summer, Neal was able to spend four days in Nashville on college tour with some of Melrose’s top, rising seniors. Speaking of the trip, Neal said, “The opportunity to spend quality time with eight seniors, who are also leaders in the school, allowed me to develop rapport with them and implant messages that they could carry back and spread throughout the school. They really are my ambassadors, who are able to say ‘You know guys, let’s buy-in to what Mr. Neal is doing; grow with the new staff, and meet the expectations he has set forth.’” When asked about developing students’ character for life outside of school walls, Neal shares, “I love history and my favorite area in history has always been the civil rights era. Memphis is deeply rooted in civil rights and Jim Crow. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my heroes. The whole push for equality and the push for empowerment with young black men is something I feel I’m called to do. It’s my purpose here on earth; to help educate young men so they can avoid incarceration or premature deaths or anything negative that statistically we tend to lead toward. There is a long-standing female group here, the Charmettes, led by faculty and alumni members. They are invested in helping provide more than just academic discussion with our female students, but character development as well. I’m looking to implement a similar program, Young Men of Success, for Melrose’s young men which will provide the young men with role models and community leaders that can help them handle some of the peer pressure 30 | Southern Soul l September 2014
and challenges they face daily. I want our students to understand that a few years of sacrifice, struggle, and perseverance here in high school can open up doors for the rest of their life!” Principal Neal has set a plan in motion to promote Melrose. He wants the community to know that Melrose now has a vibrant curriculum so that the best and brightest from Sherwood, Airways, STEAM Academy and others know they can come to Melrose, over some of the other options and still get a quality education. Melrose has the tradition of longstanding principals and Neal will surely join this tradition. Neal says the footprint he wants to leave is to be “the principal that took Melrose from the bottom 5% in the state to the top 25% in the state. That’s our goal and that’s my job!” ...There is no doubt this unsung hero will do just that -- and more.
Help your Child Understand Personal Finance By: Annie Reed
Once your child reaches an age where they want to make their own purchase decisions, you need to start thinking about how to handle allowance. Some parents are concerned that “free money” might spoil their children. However, when used correctly, an allowance can be a great learning tool to help your child become a financially responsible adult. Teaching your child personal finance is a wise investment in your child’s future. Here are three tips for using your child’s allowance as a tool to learn personal finance and decision making.
1) Allowance is earned, not given. Whether you plan to give your child five dollars a month or fifty, freely giving cash can easily teach the wrong lessons of money. Obviously, your child is dependent on you for their basic needs, but you want them to be able to stand on their own financial feet upon reaching adulthood. Instead of giving money unconditionally, have them earn it by doing household chores. This is a great idea for two reasons. First, your child will learn some basic household management skills, 32 | Southern Soul l September 2014
such as vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, laundry, or even cooking. Many young adults arrive to college not knowing how to do any of these things. Save yourself some time while allowing your child to develop skills they will need as an adult. The second reason allowance should be based on chores is because it helps build a strong work ethic. As an adult, your child will need to earn their own money to pay for things they need and want. By building the connection between work and money early, your child will learn a better work ethic and be better prepared to enter the workforce. They will also value their money more because they had to work for it. Chances are, they will think twice about buying a toy they don’t need. This reinforces sensible financial habits that remains with your child into adulthood.
2) Use allowance to teach your child about debt. Debt might seem like too much of an adult issue to put on a child, but your youngster can really benefit by learning about debt when young. Most people rack up most of their debt in their early twenties.
Finances If your child has a head start in understanding debt, they may avoid reckless credit spending.
can save your child from taking on and handle money at a young age become more successful and unnecessary debt as an adult. financial prudent as adults. The 3) Teach your child power of these mistakes will stick For example, your child really about banking. with them as adults when the wants an expensive toy and doesn’t stakes are higher. If your child has saved his/her have enough money to purchase dollars prudently, consider helping the toy, so they ask you to buy them open a bank account. Once the toy. Rather than say no, agree your child has enough cash saved, to purchase it for them, on one open a joint checking account. condition: They pay back every cent of the purchase. This “debt” Once you help your child open a can be paid off by doing their bank account, he/she will learn chores, but they will receive no important skills such as writing more cash until the debt is paid off. checks, checking their balance Fifty dollars isn’t a lot of debt, but it’s enough to make your child understand the burden of debt. They may even question their decision to buy the toy in the first place. In either case, they will understand debt and have a better sense of whether to take a loan or not. Small financial mistakes made under the watchful eye of a parent
online, and managing their money as numbers on a screen instead of cold, hard cash. You can help them open a savings account or a CD to teach them how saving and investing can improve their finances later in life.
“Some parents are concerned that “free money” might spoil their children.”
There’s no reason allowance has to spoil your child. In fact, many children who learn how to earn
Southern Soul l September 2014 | 33
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Fred Jones Welcomes
25 Classic Years By: Toni Harvey
On a warm day with misting rainfall, Fred Jones’ vision was about to take flight. For a brief moment, he thought, the light rain may dampen the day and clip his vision’s wings. He thought, “If they do come and the rain doesn’t stop, the people will scamper for cover or leave.” Then, despite the rain, people started arriving, never stopped walking toward the gate, they never turned back…and, twenty-five years later, they are still coming. The Southern Heritage Classic, founded by Fred Jones, hosts the annual football game between historically
black universities Tennessee State and Jackson State. The Classic has grown from an ordinary college football game to a Mid-South institution and cultural event celebrating the colleges, families, friends and the community. With FedEx as the presenting sponsor, the Southern Heritage Classic is forging ahead at 25 years of age. Despite, his busy schedule, Mr. Jones took time to share his vision, from inception to today.
Mr. Jones Photographs: Darius B Williams
Southern Soul l September 2014 | 35
Southern Soul: Twentyfive years ago, did you envision the Classic would be as monumental an event as it is today? Jones: I’m asked that all the time. People are amazed at the fact that this event has captured people’s imaginations. That people put the Classic on their annual schedule and live for this event each year. If I said I was not surprised, I wouldn’t be telling the truth. If I said this is what I thought it could be, I’d be closer. Twenty-five years ago, I had a vision, but we were mostly just trying to survive. When we got started, we didn’t have the resources that are available now. Now, I have the technology; the internet; social media –it’s just a different world. Coming from a music entertainment background, I had been involved in musical and other entertainment
36 | Southern Soul l September 2014
events all over the place. I had a background full of working with major events; major events that happened in other cities and I hoped that I would be able to capture some of that same magic and do the same thing in Memphis. So, that was always the idea – to try to create something that (1) would sustain; and (2) something that people would embrace. The latter is always a tough one – we go from year to year trying to get that done. During the initial planning, I didn’t really know it would be great, but while it was happening, that first year, I knew it would be great. I tell this story all the time – during the first year – the day after the game, this lady walked up behind me, called my attention, and with tears in her eyes, she said, “You made me feel so good on Saturday.” I think that people knew it was great. But, because of the times, they also knew that there had been many,
many challenges. I believe that is why she had tears in her eyes. I thanked her and told her maybe we would do it next year -- not knowing that next year was going to be a struggle too and at that time we had only gotten through struggle number one. I think people were hoping we would be able to keep it together. Today, that still remains a challenge. Every year, you have to continue to prove yourself -- so whether you are in year 1 or year 25, you still have to prove that [the Classic’s] all that. Today, I have a lot of help and that makes it a little bit easier. We have the corporate community; the media; the community; and people like yourselves that think the Classic is all that. But, it’s still a struggle every year and you realize that you will never get to a point where, even after 25 years, where you feel comfortable enough to say that you have made it. You just have to keep
“If you pull this off, you will have the number one event in this town.” going - you have to stay hungry and you have to do it every year -- because every year there is always something different. In the first year, we had many struggles. In 1990, Memphis had strong racial differences. It was a different era and I think the Classic was able to break some of the racial barriers. We have always worked well with everyone. From the beginning, there were white people that believed in me, trusted that I could do what I said I was going to do, and were willing to step up for me. At the outset, I knew if my idea was going anywhere, I needed two entities – Federal Express and The Commercial Appeal. One of the most important supporters was the Commercial Appeal. The first year, they did a number of stories about the Classic and my vision. They had a whole team of people writing stories about us. We weren’t even the Classic, we hadn’t come up with a name, hadn’t had the game, but they were writing about us.
Southern Soul: How did you persuade the Commercial Appeal to buy-in to your vision?
Jones: At the time I started sharing my vision,
Dave Swearingen was the marketing director at the Commercial Appeal and I knew he was the person I needed to understand my vision. Back then, the Commercial Appeal had a checkered history as far as the black community was concerned; but, the sales department had always supported me whenever I ran an ad for any shows or events I was producing. So I went to the sales department to see a lady named Fay Ables who was the department secretary. I told her I had this idea and needed to meet with Dave. She gave me the typical administrator answer; “I don’t have any influence around here, but I’ll see what I can do.” The next day, she called and said I had an appointment to see Dave that day. When I met Dave, I shared my idea about hosting a football game as an event. He handed me a sheet of paper off his desk and said write down what you want to do. I scribbled down some thoughts. He read it and said “If you pull this off, you will have the number one event in this town. I will get you a meeting with Lionel Linder (the Commercial Appeal Editor), but you will have to make your own presentation.” Then,
he gave me advice that I carry and practice today. “Do your research and be prepared.” The next day, I met with Mr. Linder. I presented my vision to him and gave him the statistics I researched supporting it as a successful idea. When I concluded, Mr. Linder looked at me and said “You know; if this is going to work, we have got to help. We have got to work with you.” The rest is history. The Commercial Appeal stepped up. He had people assigned to create stories on this event – we didn’t even have a name yet. Later, we named it the Southern Heritage Classic and it is 25 years later. I’ve had a lot of people step up and volunteer, like our announcer, Tom Prestigiacomo, a radio personality for FM100.
Southern Soul l September 2014 | 37
He called and said “I heard that you are talking about doing a game at the stadium. I do the voice at the stadium. Do you need an announcer?” He has been with us since.
Southern Soul: How were you able to
overcome the racial tensions or racial bias that presented itself during your initial planning and throughout the years?
Jones: Sometimes we let ourselves get wrapped up in race issues, but I have been able to stay out of the fray. I am not naive that it exists, but the Classic is above the fray. When you step into the circle called Southern Heritage Classic, you leave political leaning or racial leaning -- I don’t allow it to rise. We are going to give everyone respect; do your thing as long as it is done within the confines of respect and consideration. We invite everyone. This year, we have the Governor, a Republican, as our speaker. Everyone is welcome – we want you to come in, enjoy yourself and become a part of what we have become and what we have to offer. Southern Soul: I read the latest University
of Memphis’ Market Assessment of the Classic and it states the Classic is directly “responsible for infusing $6.3 million direct economic benefit into the local economy . . . and the total economic benefit of $21 million.” How do you react to the fact that the event you envisioned and maintained delivers a $21 million impact on a major city, your home town?
Jones: Well, it is twofold: one is the fact that I am a native Memphian. I grew up in the 50s and 60s and saw how things were. We lived the pictures you now see –pictures of the zoo where we [Blacks] 38 | Southern Soul l September 2014
could only go to the zoo one day a week; when you could only go to the Malco Theater off the side street and you could only go upstairs because we weren’t allowed downstairs -- you know -- it makes you feel really good knowing that you were able to accomplish an event of this magnitude especially in Memphis. We have accomplished a monumental task. We met the challenge of drawing 70,000 people to attend a Historically Black College football game and its satellite events when those football games aren’t in vogue anymore and when some people view tailgating as people out getting drunk. We have turned a football game into a cultural event
“The $21 million is great ---but the thing for me is that we give the people the opportunity to have a good time.”
Soul Talks with a golf tournament, a fashion show and the largest parade in Memphis and it’s a parade in Orange Mound, not downtown. The $21 million is great ---but the thing for me is that we give the people the opportunity to have a good time; you see all of these people and they are smiling --- and they are smiling because of the Southern Heritage Classic. That just puts a whole different spin on the whole event --- and knowing that you have taken care of business to get those smiles. From the beginning, we approached this as a business and everyone associated with the Classic approaches it as a business; so when the authorities talk about the $21 million, it says we took care of business.
Southern Soul: Not
only has the Classic made a huge economic impact in the Memphis community, it has done so with the two schools, Jackson State University and Tennessee State University. I read you said that one of the greatest thrills was handing the check to the schools. Tell us about that.
Jones: This year, we will have topped $10 million disbursed to the schools. I am proud we have been able to make the monies available and, even more so, that we have been able to do so for the past 24 years. There has not been one year that we
weren’t able to hand a check to the schools. We take pride in that. We are excited that we have an agreement to continue through 2019. So they feel good about what we are doing for the schools.
Southern Soul: The Classic has also become one of the largest cultural celebrations in the Mid-South. The estimations are that 30,000 people tailgate each year. How did that begin?
Jones: People have started to
realize the impact that tailgating has. It is a phenomenon that is happening throughout the sports world from professional sports to toddlers’ soccer games. I don’t remember when we did our first year – it just started and gets stronger each year. I remember some people’s attitude in the beginning was that it’s too hot; I don’t want to be bothered; just didn’t want to do it --- now they wouldn’t think about not doing it. The Kroc Center and Tiger Lane have impacted the tailgating positively. The Tiger Lane foot print can
accommodate the space and needs of our tailgaters. When you come to our tailgate, you’re going to see people everywhere - like a carnival. Each year it grows, they bring more stuff and wider displays. It is a remarkable part of the Classic. We now have crew dedicated solely to tailgating because it demands that kind of attention.
Southern Soul: What
aspect of the Classic are you most proud?
Jones: That’s a tough one. I think I am most proud that the Classic has stature. We have taken two historical black colleges and we have positioned them at the highest levels of a sports event. No one can use the phrase chopped liver when referring to the Classic, because we are filet mignon. We may not be as big as others, but we can hold our own. We have maintained a superb stature for this city, for the schools; for the people in this community and other communities; and for our fans. The Classic performs at the highest level. We present ourselves with class and have been able to do so at the highest level. We treat every year like it is the first year. We never get to where we can say -- I don’t have to do that -- I don’t have to do this because we have arrived. We are celebrating our 25th anniversary and it is going be the best of all. We got all kinds of things going on; the football game, the
Southern Soul l September 2014 | 39
“The response was overwhelmingly ‘Fred, we are with you.’” shows, tailgating, the parade, the Coalition of 100 Black Women Fashion Show. Each one of those events has gotten bigger and, more important, in their own right. Here you are starting a magazine and you chose us for your inaugural cover --- that’s saying something. But as soon as it’s over -- we start getting ready for next year.
Southern Soul: People
don’t usually discuss hardships that led to success, but hardships always occur. I know that the 2001 9/11 tragedy presented a hardship. What was its impact?
Jones: Well, it was devastating. There were lot of contributing factors -- that weekend, the NFL decided to not play any games; the SEC made the decision to not play; the SWAC conference, which Jackson State belonged, made the decision their teams could not play, but the Ohio Valley Conference, which Tennessee State belonged, made the decision that their teams could play. It was all up in the air. I would have cried but I had too much work to do. We couldn’t have the game. We couldn’t have the shows because the celebrities couldn’t get flights. We had to undo everything that we had done – everything. We did have the golf tournament and I think they had the fashion show. People still tailgated. I had so much to do to just get through the moment. Once the school presidents decided they were not going
to play, they called to tell me, and then one of the presidents immediately told the press “We aren’t going to Memphis.” The telephones just blew up! It was on the radio and all over the TV. I didn’t have the time to prepare my response. We did a news conference here in this office at 9 pm that night. I had to talk to the sponsors. They were okay with the cancellation; they were busy dealing with their own 9/11 related issues. The response was overwhelmingly “Fred, we are with you.” Later, the schools advised that they still wanted to play the game. The only date available to reschedule was Thanksgiving Day. So, we rescheduled and moved forward. The sponsors were there and people hung in there with me. But despite the support, financially, it was a total disaster. It really hit me on game day. I had to go pick up something downtown and when I drove back to the stadium, I was able to drive all the way up to the front door of the stadium. Shocking! Normally, on Classic day, you can’t even think about driving to the door; the traffic makes it virtually impossible. But, I drove to the door. It was eerie, so abnormal for us. I think we had 17-18 thousand in attendance. But, the fact that you could drive all the way to the front door with no problem, nobody stopping you; it was heart breaking. I can’t put it in words. It was just devastating, not only for
me, but for other people also. All involved didn’t know what was going to happen. You can’t prepare for something like this. You don’t have the budget to do the Classic twice in one year. But, people rallied around me. They knew I was a survivor. They had grown up with Fred Jones Entertainment producing shows and that I was a part of the fabric of Mid-South’s entertainment. And, here we are, our 25th year, a survivor of 9/11.
Southern Soul: Who are
you preparing to step up in your shoes so you can take a rest?
Jones: My son, Nathaniel Jones. He knows what he’s doing and I am confident in his ability. The toughest part of this business is handling the many personalities one has to deal with and learning the various nuances each personality brings. The nuts and bolts of the Classic are pretty easy, but keeping the relationships is the hardest part. You have to be able to work well with all types of relationships, the entertainers; the political world; the corporate world; sports world; the colleges, community; and the fans. I am comfortable with his talents and personality that he can handle it. At this level when you got everybody watching you, you have the country’s attention, it gets to be intense. FedEx is our presenting sponsor and their headquarters are right here. So, whatever we do, whatever we say, it gets a lot of scrutiny in that you got to be able to conduct yourself pretty straight and narrow in terms of your business, how you present and what you say. That’s the part that gets to be tough. I have a lot of years under my belt, lots Southern Soul l September 2014 | 41
of lessons from watching other people, and at times I have had to shout at myself and I know Nathaniel has watched me and can maintain the standards and stature we have achieved.
Southern Soul: Is there one highlight that stands out above all others?
Jones: That’s a hard question. Well, I think the one above all is -this is really personal. One of those years when we were struggling to keep everything afloat, I remember stopping by to see my mother. She was getting old and had health issues. Her vision had deteriorated and when she read, she had to hold the paper very, very close to her eyes (like this) [motioning with a newspaper towards his face]. When I arrived, she was reading the newspaper in the kitchen and
42 | Southern Soul l September 2014
she was just so, so very happy. She had just read that we had gotten another deal with FedEx and she was simply exuding pride. She was so happy that a company like FedEx would place trust in and was supporting her son. She was so happy! Sometimes, people don’t get the magnitude of what we have accomplished, don’t understand the hurdles we have straddled or the struggles we have conquered; they just don’t understand everything about “it,” but she did. Yes, she did. Before I left that day, she said “Tell Fred Smith that I’m pleased that he is supporting my son.” To know that my mother got “it” and that I had made her proud. That is the highlight for me.
Southern Soul: What
message would you like to give our youth?
Jones: My message is that there
are really no excuses. There is no excuse for you to “not” know anything in this universe. Today, youth can discover anything with a click of a mouse. So, there is no excuse. I tell them the demand that’s going to be on them to get a job or the demand they must meet to get into college, they must be prepared. I think they have almost disenfranchised themselves. They are not voting, not participating, they are not part of life, so, if they want to be a part of it, they must prepare, they must be competitive. They have no excuses. When companies and organizations are evaluating whether or not they are going to let you get through the door, you must be ready, prepared and competitive. You may get to sit at the table, it may be at the corner
of the table -- but at least you have a seat. If you are not able to put yourself at the table, there’s no chance for you and the opportunities will pass you by. I tell them to get determination and drive. When I was a kid, we had neighborhoods. There were neighborhoods that had businesses on every corner, but today, the only thing you see are sidewalks that go to “nowhere” because there is nothing there. But, when I was a kid, I worked at a neighborhood grocery store. I hustled taking people’s groceries home. I threw the newspaper in the neighborhood. Neighborhood opportunities aren’t available now, so, if you aren’t prepared to go where the opportunities are, you don’t have a chance. There are no excuses. The other lesson I try to leave with our youth is the
importance of their personal presentation. I tell all the kids the story about the time I was invited to a company to speak and during the session, I learned the
“My message is that there are really no excuses” one thing that this organization held as priority was time management. You hear people say “Why are they tripping? I ain’t but 10 minutes late?” And the people in the room would say, you are absolutely right but here people get written up more for being late than any other infraction. I tell the kids to think about it -- you could have an advantage almost out the box just by being on time. Your superiors may know you need improvement, but they will also think about the fact that you come in, look presentable, are on time; and are here to learn. I lived in Cleaborn Homes and attended Porter Jr. High and they started an honor society. I had been selected to be inducted into the honor society but you had to have black shoes for the ceremony. Everybody had to wear black shoes. Well, I didn’t have black shoes. Back then, we didn’t get but one pair of shoes a year. I had some brown and black bucks and I couldn’t wear
them to the ceremony. So, the day before the induction, I waited for my daddy to get off and we rushed down to Freeman’s Shoe Store and when we got there, it was closed. The next morning on the way to school, I told one of the guys that I was supposed to be inducted in the honor society this morning but I didn’t have any black shoes. He said “You can wear mine.” So, I ran back home, changed clothes and rushed back to him and his black shoes. However, there was a problem, I wore a 9.5 and his shoes were a 9. But, I wore them anyway. So, I tell the kids to find a way to move forward, they have no excuses. There are so many stories where people have helped me -- that is why giving back is not an issue for me. I don’t know any other way because people have given to me -- they gave me all that they could give me. On that day, it was a pair of shoes. It was a gift for me to go shine, and be spotlighted -- and I don’t think that I could be any other way because of what people in this community have done for me over many, many years.
Southern Soul: What do you want your legacy to be?
Jones: You know when you
get to my age, you do start thinking about this, but I haven’t given it much thought. I guess I want it to be that I tried and I did it the right way. I’ve had more failures than I have had successes, but I just keep at it. I’ve strived to do it the right way because I think it’s important
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for me that I represented my two heroes (my mother and father) well. Even though both are not with me today, but it is important to do it the right way for them and my family. Sometimes in business (and in life), you have to do some edgy things to get to where you want to go but I have always tried to do it the right way. People often ask me how I missed the drugs, the alcohol mainly the drugs because being in the entertainment business and being around all that stuff, it was just a turn off for me. But, I don’t smoke. I don’t drink and I never did drugs. I was always guided by the fact that I wanted to do it the right way and the way that would make my parents happy. So, that’s it. I kept trying. I keep trying and I did it the right way. In closing, the Classic is a pleasant experience. We want people to leave with the pleasant part. The Classic is built on pride --- you know we are proud. When you see all of us together, we have volunteers who have been with us for 25 years. We come together, we work, and when we are successful, it’s because we have all played a part in making the Classic successful. We all know how tough it is. We know how some years it just a total grind from start to finish. But at the end of the day, it’s all about pride. We take pride in putting this together for the people of this community and other communities because there are people that come from
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across the nation. The Classic means a lot to them so therefore we have to take pride in that. We could get hung up on the accolades or on the pats on the back. Everybody loves that, but at the end of the day, we take pride in how we have been able to execute and how people feel when it’s over – and they are still smiling.
“There are so many stories where people have helped me -- that is why giving back is not an issue for me.”
Over 425 Art Vendors 3 Stages of Music & 17 Bands Large interactive play Children’s Area New “Teenage Fun” Zone Headliner - Cory Branan
Join us at the corner of Cooper Street and Young Avenue for the annual Evolve Bank & Trust Cooper Young Festival on Saturday, September 13 from 9 am to 7 pm. The Cooper Young Festival is a free, family-friendly, music, arts and crafts street festival which draws over 125,000 people to the historic Cooper Young District for a day of music, art, shopping, people watching and dining. The Festival, in its 27rd year, is the largest, single day event held annually in a celebration of life, music, arts and history. It’s the biggest party of the summer – you don’t want to miss!
Easy Tailgating By: Annie Reed
Americans love cars, football games, and outdoor cookouts. And there is only one place you can find it all … tailgating. Not invited to one? With these easy tips, you can do it yourself. Tailgate parties don’t have to be overly complicated affairs. Keep it simple and make it fun. Being prepared is the most important part.
No tailgate party is complete without a grill. A portable grill is the way to go. These days, tailgaters can find portable grills in either gas-powered or charcoal burners and they come in different shapes, sizes, and even colors too. The best part -getting one doesn’t have to break the bank as prices start from $30.
A tailgate party isn’t a party unless you’ve got beer, and plenty of it, so remember to bring the cooler and don’t forget the ice. Large, sturdy chest coolers can do double duty as seats but if you’ve got limited space in the car, consider getting a soft cooler bag instead. Alternatively, waterproof, insulated canvas tubs like Igloo’s Party Tubs are collapsible and can hold up to 54 cans of beer. As far as beverages, have alcoholic and nonalcoholic choices available. To go all out, prepare jello shots in your 46 | Southern Soul l September 2014
team colors. But don’t forget many of your fellow tailgaters will have to drive home. And some may bring their children, so plan accordingly and drink responsibly.
Food is easy—anything that can and will be grilled is a given. Hot dogs, brats, burgers, chicken wings even pizza are great ideas. You can prep the food the night before with seasonings, and bring it in a cooler to cook at the site, along with condiments. Side dishes such
as chips and dip are also tasty supplements to any meal. Desserts are good too, like doughnuts, cakes, or pies. It’s easiest if everyone contributes a dish or two, but make sure you coordinate it with your friends so you don’t end up with doubles of everything.
Paper plates are essential for any good tailgate party. Get some plastic utensils while you’re at it, and remember the napkins. Bring plastic cups too.
You’ve got to have somewhere to put all the food, so tables are a must. Lightweight, foldable tables are easily, and quite cheaply available, with prices starting as low as $20. When in doubt, go for the larger table, as extra space is always best.
Nothing gets a party going like music, so make sure you’ve got a collection of your favorite songs ready to go on your iPod, laptop, tablet, or car stereo. If you don’t think your car’s speakers are up to the challenge, turn up the beat with some portable speakers.
Whether it’s boiling hot, freezing cold, or raining, you’ll want to have some sort of protective cover. Nobody likes a rained-out party so consider getting a canopy, tent or even a large beach umbrella. On sunny days, it’ll stop you from burning, and on rainy days, at least the food won’t get wet and the grill won’t be soggy.
You never know what could go wrong, especially if you’ve got a hot grill going, so make sure you bring the first aid kit. Bring jumper cables too, just in case your battery goes flat after blaring music all day long.
Cleaning up isn’t the most popular part of a tailgate party, but it has to be done. Make sure you’ve brought extra large, heavy-duty trash bags. If you’ve got a plastic stool, turn it upside down, fold the edges of the bag over the legs, and you’ve got a handy makeshift trashcan.
Dress should be in layers, since weather can change. Remember, you’ll be outside for a few hours at the minimum.
Arrive four to five hours before the game to avoid traffic and the other tailgaters that will be there. Plan to eat one to two hours before the game, so you’ll have time to clean up and find your seat in the stadium. There’s nothing wrong with breaking up the party, either— tailgate before the game and celebrate the win (they ARE going to win, right?) after it’s over. This will also help you avoid the traffic as patrons are leaving the area.
“Food is easy— anything that can and will be grilled is a given.”
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Dark & Stormy Martini Ingredients: 1 1/2 oz. Goslingâ€™s Rum 2 oz. of Ginger Beer Instructions: Mix Rum and Ginger Beer over ice & stir. Serve in Martini glass garnish with cherry.
Beer Punch Ingredients: 1 liter Vodka 3 (12 oz.) cans of Beer 2 (6 oz.) containers of frozen limeade, thawed 3 limes, sliced into wedges Instructions: Add vodka, beer, limeade to a large serving container and mix well. Add lime wedges and pour into tall tumblers filled with ice. Garnish glass with lime wedge and cherry and serve.
Recipes by Mixologist Niki Fields; Cocktail Cuties
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FILL-A-B AG E VENT
$20 PER BAG All you can fit in the bag
October 4, 2014
7:30AM - 12:30PM 2730 COLONY PARK DR. MEMPHIS, TN 38118 Information: 901.363.3100
ARE YOU A RECORDING ARTIST, RECORD PRODUCER, OR SONGWRITER? Would you like to take your skills to the next level? If so, visit theconsortiummmt.org and apply for our mentorship program. President and Founder, David Porter, invites you to submit your application, online, for consideration into the next mentorship cycle! If you are serious about honing your craft, donâ€™t delay! Visit www.theconsortiummmt.org. For more information, call us at 901.543.3559.
AN ENDURING JEWEL, WENDY MOTEN Daughter of a preacher man... born and raised in Memphis, Wendy Moten began her career in the choir of her father’s church and rose to the pinnacle of the music industry -- singing or arranging music with some of the greatest. Her modest start in church was quickly jumpstarted in a Memphis studio, Cotton Row Studios, where she recorded her 1992 chart topping single Come in Out of the Rain and she hasn’t stopped rolling since. A self-described chameleon, Ms. Moten has an everlasting voice and is an enduring jewel of Memphis. In Memphis to launch her latest album, Timeless – Wendy Moten Sings Richard Whiting, Southern Soul was able to catch up with her where it all jumped off -- Cotton Row Studios.
By: Pepper Lewis Photography: Darius B Williams On Location: Cotton Row Studios
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teammates who were studying and you know you and music were one? prepared. That really helped me in my career. Moten: I didn’t actually know music was for me. It was somewhat There once was a theme park here forced on me as a child. By forced, in Memphis, Libertyland, and it was a great venue for teenagers I mean – I was forced to sing at church when I was very little. I was to learn how to perform. We performed on weekends and would shy and didn’t really like to sing. My father was a minister. So, all of do 3 shows a day. It was great practice ground and I got to bring the kids in my family had to sing home a check. I was like “Wow in church. We went to church 4 this is awesome! I’m getting paid days a week -- it was mandatory. I sang a lot and by age 6 and 7, I was to sing. Really??” That’s how it all started . . . at Overton High School leading songs. Because I was shy and everyone was looking at me, I and then working the summers at thought it was the worst thing ever. Libertyland. And the opportunities But everyone kept looking and kept just kept coming. saying “Yeah, that’s really good, Southern Soul: So music has baby.” So I kept on singing. been your life since you were six? I attended Overton High School, a Moten: Yes. After Libertyland, competitive performing arts school more opportunities kept presenting here in Memphis. You had to keep themselves. Sometimes, it was your academics up at the same theatre, sometimes it was a band time you were competing with needing backup. At that time, there
Southern Soul: When did
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was a band in Memphis called MVP and it was the most sought after band in Memphis. We had a house gig and everyone wanted to be in that band because of the professionalism and because of the musicianship. They stayed current all the time and the experience was just a great practice ground. I was with that band for at least 3 years. I also sang at Captain Bilbo’s for maybe two years. Then I went out on the road for a little bit. I sang backup in clubs four years before I got signed; two years in Memphis and two years on the road. I didn’t realize I loved music and that I was meant to be a professional musician. It was not until I got my record deal in 1993 that I realized -- “Hey, my music is not a fluke. This is really happening.”
Southern Soul: How did you get your first record deal?
“Learning the music business was a challenge. Once you are in it, you find out that it’s a lot of politics.”
Moten: It happened in this very studio. I was out there [pointing to a studio] singing a jingle. I wasn’t performing with a band at the time. There was a gentleman here named Dick Williams meeting with Niko Lyras, who owns studio. Dick Williams had come to Memphis to look at a band that he was about to sign to a major label. So he was in town to listen to the band and while he was here with Niko, he just happened to hear me sing the jingle. He asked Niko, “Who’s that girl? She sounds good. What does she sound like with a band?” And Niko was like “Well, I don’t really know. She just sings jingles for me.” Mariah Carey and EMI had me! It started happening really fast then. At that time, Whitney Houston’s Saving All My Love for You was out. I knew that song and I knew Aretha Learning the music business was a challenge. Once Franklin songs. Niko called me in and introduced me you are in it, you find out that it’s a lot of politics. It’s to Dick, who said “I’m only in town for a few days, a mix of many things; your competitors are trying to would you mind sitting in with Niko’s band?” The next make sure you don’t get on the radio, gigs aren’t always day, I sang Saving All My Love For You, My Greatest what you think – but, all in all, it is still a great ride. I Love of All, and, Aretha’s Freeway of Love for Dick and met a lot of great people. Niko. Dick looked at Niko and me and said “I can get you a record deal.” I thought “WHATEVER!” He said After the release of Come In Out of the Rain, people started to come after me. David Foster [who produced “No, I really can!” Whitney’s I’ll Always Love You] found me. He told me So several months later he brought a songwriter from he heard my song on the radio and he came after me. Detroit here for me to sing three songs. One was my This was major! David Foster is a big player and had single, Come In Out of the Rain. We cut the three produced so many great acts and he wanted to work songs right here at Cotton Row. That was the end of with me. It happened – just like that. He had a lot to 1992. By early 1993, Dick Williams had entered a do with my second release that was on EMI. bidding war between EMI Records, Warner Brothers, I was really amazed that this thing [my music] really and Elektra. Dick chose EMI. It was a major record started to snowball. But because I was raised here in company! Arista had Whitney Houston, Sony had
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Entertainment Memphis and I was fortunate enough to have good parents, I believed. I knew to just take it day by day because in the music business, it can be really tough, but overall, it’s been really great. It’s been a great ride!
Southern Soul: What’s the best part of the ride? Moten: I’ve had an incredible life in music. I’ve had incredible experiences. I released three albums on EMI. I did a number of movie soundtracks, one with Macaulay Culkin that was nominated for a Grammy. I became duet queen in the late 90s with Michael McDonald and Julio Iglesias. When Julio [Iglesias] found me, he changed my life -- and I stayed with him for 15 years singing duet. Southern Soul: How did Julio change your life? Moten: It was amazing because -- here’s this living legend who is teaching me without thinking he is teaching me – teaching me how to perform and how to connect with the audience, which is the most important thing. He said to me “Connecting with the audience is what you have to do. That’s how you get people to come back to the same concert year after year because you make that connection.” Connecting with the audience is one of the most important things for him which I finally understood and figured out how to do. The most amazing part of the touring was getting to see the world. I love history so I was able to see a lot of history. I saw a lot of places in the bible. I was actually able to go there. I can say, while I travelled, “Oh that’s where Mary was born in Turkey. Awesome.” I got to meet dictators, country presidents, and prime ministers. I was able to witness a lot of change. I don’t speak foreign languages but I did learn a lot and got a lot of exposure. I’m a part of a very small percentage that has seen the world. I’ve been to places few have seen.
Southern Soul: It seems your experience with Julio was your career highlight. Was it? Moten: Yes, it was because there were so many incredible moments. I mean he shared his life with me. He respected me as a musician and he shared his family with me. I would go and stay at their homes, eat great dinners, drink nice wines and have wonderful conversations. He was always teaching me and I appreciate that because he’s a busy guy and he, as most successful people, chooses who to give his time to and who to share his life with and the fact that he did that for me for so many years meant a lot because 56 | Southern Soul l September 2014
Wendy with her first Album he trusted me and he wanted to expose me to things that I may not have been exposed to otherwise. It was very special. I don’t take it for granted at all.
Southern Soul: Your latest CD features songs by Richard Whiting. What made you decide on Whiting? Moten: Well the idea is
Paul Brown’s, who produced the project. He’s the jazz guru, a contemporary producer with multiple Grammys. He’s produced just about everyone in jazz. He programmed All I Do which was a Kirk Whalum cover that I did. Paul is out of LA and I was there hanging out with he and his wife one evening. We were having dinner and at
“I’ve had an incredible life in music. I’ve had incredible experiences.”
some point I told them I really love Doris Day and Julie London and he responded “No honey, you’re an R&B singer. Don’t worry about jazz. People are trying to sound like you.” Later, he was commissioned to do this project by the Richard Whiting Foundation. Since I had planted the seed, he thought of me. At first, he just wanted me to do one song and then he decided to make it our project. So we just went in and in two days cut ten songs. I really enjoyed doing Whiting. He was a great writer, a contemporary of the 20th century. I made a connection with him because just like my song Coming Out of the Rain, people knew the song but they didn’t know who sang it or they thought it was Whitney or it was just a misconnect. The same thing goes for Richard Whiting. Even though he had many hits, people didn’t know his name. I could connect and relate to it and I loved the music.
Southern Soul: So, what’s next for you?
Moten: I have this vision that
I want to do. I want to go all the way. I want to take people all the way back into the 1950’s. I want to look it, sound like it, and when you come, it’s as if we’re back in time where everyone was glamourous and everything was amazing and with the quality. The quality is what I’m seeking and the class; class for everyday people. Not just rich people or wealthy people. Everyone had class back then, so why not? Anyway, I want to have a Linda Ronstadt type of career, she sings everyday music and has crossed all genres. She has done R&B, country, blues, pop, and rock. I sing
all those styles and I would like to incorporate shows that embrace all music.
Southern Soul: Now you didn’t mention Gospel, which I think is your roots. Moten: Well, Gospel is my roots. I feel there needs to be a call in your life to sing Gospel. I take it seriously and I think if you are a minister, you should really strive to do that and live it so that when you’re talking to people, they take you seriously and you’re credible. And in Gospel I just don’t feel I’m all there. I love it and I have a relationship with it, but I feel I should be called to do it, you know. I feel I can touch so many people in so many different ways and that is my road to take. Lots of people have told me I need to sing Gospel; I don’t feel I was called to do that. I want to be transparent and honest about my music. Southern Soul: If you had to pick one genre, sound, or person right now to emulate, what or who? Moten: I’m on this kick right now where I would have to say early Ella Fitzgerald because I realized to get to Ella after 1950 would take a lifetime so I’m not trying to do that but early Ella is more my speed. I’m a melody person. I don’t scat but I love her song, her phrasing; I try to emulate and embrace the early Ella. Right now, I’m starting to do my research to decide where I want to land. I know the rock and roll world and I know the country world. Southern Soul: How do you know the country world?
Moten: Because I live in Nashville and have been there for 18 years. Being there has been amazing. The word got out that I was there and all of a sudden, I was getting calls for sessions and records. I started getting these big tours. From 2005 until this year I was able to tour with Faith Hill. The dates just worked out really well. I just finished doing the Southern Soul l September 2014 | 57
“You can be what you want. You can fly. You can go to the top. Just do it baby.” Vegas dates for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw act. I’ve done rock stuff with Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, Eric Clapton. I’ve just have a reputation of being a chameleon. Currently I am touring with Martina McBride. I just sang backup on her latest record, Everlasting, and her tour just went number one. It’s been great because I’m watching her create her Elvis moment and creating a legacy and I’m happy to be a part of her growth. This record we just made has some classic soul. It has Aretha, Otis Redding and she added some classic rock. I’m just thrilled to watch her take this leap. And to watch her take this leap helps me because you know usually with artists I don’t usually share my past life. I separate me as an artist as the background singer or the person in the studio singing backgrounds because it keeps it less complicated but she told me the other day “I know who you are and I’m so honored to have you with me. You are amazing.” And I thanked her for that and I told her I was there for her but I’m also working on my own thing and she embraces it. But you know I’ve had a good ride that has just crossed all boundaries.
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Southern Soul: Any regrets? Moten: None. You know it has a
lot to do with my parents because I’m sure I was the love child because I was born November 22, 1964. Kennedy was assassinated November 22, 1963 so I was a love child. I know it, I believe it. So by the time I was born there was so much change going on and with that change they kept filling me up with “you can be what you want. You can fly. You can go to the top. Just do it baby.” They gave that to all my siblings and they encouraged us every step of the way. So, you can’t fall because they were there to pick us up and they were there at everything we did and instilled in us to have compassion, work hard, defend yourself, but just live your life with your eyes open which causes less room for regret. So I believe that and I’m a total realist and I just listen to that inner voice. I say what I need to say and do what I need to do and leap!
Southern Soul: In closing,
what would you say is your best music moment?
Moten: In October, 2010, I was performing with Julio in front of the Pyramids in Egypt with the stars shining bright and people were all dressed up and I thought This is the most incredible thing. I thought how many people are going to have this opportunity with the Pyramids and Sphinx right here? And singing a duet with Julio Iglesias . . . and for whatever reason as I was walking back to my mic, and he asked “Darling are you happy?” And I was like “Yes!” And he asked why and all I could do was just turn around and people just started to clap. You couldn’t even articulate it. Those kinds of experiences - One of a lifetime!
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Christopher e e G e Be
Stylists: Jenil Rae Askew & Demetrius Blayde Makup: Dominique Chaney On-Location: Tiger Lane
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Nestled beneath the shadow of FedEx Forum, you will find LUNCHBOX eats and its owner, Chef Brewer. Chef Brewer is famous for her full catering service, Pepper & Salt Catering where she offers an extensive full catering menu serving functions from 50-500 guests. This month, LUNCHBOX eats celebrates its fourth anniversary. Chef Brewer, a former TSU Tiger, whips up creative, mouth-watering masterpieces. Chef Brewerâ€™s favorite menu item is the Class Turkey Valedictorian.
A Turkey Burger, tunneled with Boursin Cheese, crowned with Fresh Baby Spinach and her own house sauce, layered between two pieces of buttery cornbread toast.
LUNCHBOX eats 288 S. 4th Street Memphis, TN 38126 901.526.0820
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uMatter! Each month we visit with a local school and asks students questions. This month we talked to Melrose High School and we asked:
What are you looking forward to (or dreading) this school year? How will you decide where to apply to college?
Melrose High School
There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.
— Jiddu Krishnamurti
Dellarontay Readus 12th Grade
My career aspiration is to be an Entrepreneur for a Software Company. I’m looking forward to becoming valedictorian and dreading having to leave Melrose. I will apply to each and every college that I can afford and consider going to the college that has the best program for majoring in computer science, while still enabling me to graduate college out of debt. 72 | Southern Soul l September 2014
Taylor Briggs 12th Grade
My career aspiration is to become a Radiologist. I’m looking forward to earning college credits this year. I’ll decide by selecting from colleges that have the best programs and offer me the most money in scholarships.
Tanoka Adams 10th Grade
My career aspiration is to become an Engineer. I’m looking forward to participating in school activities and passing to the 11th grade. I will decide to apply for college by applying to schools that interest me and offer engineering programs. Southern Soul l September 2014 | 73
Taleigha Edwards 12th Grade
My career aspirations are to be a Nurse Practitioner/Surgeon. I am looking forward to prom, Senior Class Day, and Graduation. I will decide on which college to choose based on the medical programs offered and the reputation of the science department.
Mia Price 11th Grade
My career aspiration is to be a Teacher. I am looking forward to building relationships with the great new teachers and the great new leader of our school, Mr. Neal. I will decide where to apply to college by discussing with my parents, researching, and selecting the best program and option for me based on my career aspiration.
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Mailik Boyd 12th Grade
My career aspirations are to become an Accountant/ Entrepreneur. I am looking forward to having a great educational school year and graduating at the top of my class. I will decide where to apply to college by discussing with my parents, researching, and selecting the best program and option for me based on my career aspiration.
Kinnyatta Morris 12th Grade
My career aspirations are to become a Nurse Practitioner/ Fashion Designer/Singer. Iâ€™m looking forward to achieving my goals and graduating. I will research and determine what colleges I want to attend and apply to those. #donâ€™tjustsayitdoit
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Tiara Clayborn 12th Grade
My career aspiration is to be an Attorney. I am looking forward to having a great senior year. I will decide by talking with college students, taking college tours, and choosing the school I want to attend.
Derrick Gillespie, Jr. 12th Grade
My career aspirations are to become a NFL Player/ Entrepreneur. I am looking forward to graduating and finishing at the top of my class along with winning the football state championship. I will decide where to apply by researching different colleges and determining which colleges fits me. 76 | Southern Soul l September 2014
My career aspirations are to be a Mentor/Professional Hair Stylist. I am looking forward to a marvelous, outstanding and a phenomenal school year. Also, looking forward to Melrose High becoming the best overall and getting back on top while exceeding all school standards. I will decide which college to apply to by having one-onone conversations with my counselor to determine what environment is best suited for me and the major I choose.
Derrion Lytle 9th Grade
My career aspiration is to be a NBA Player. I am looking forward to passing the 9th grade and continuing to excel in school. I will learn more about the schools and choose which is best for me in order to decide which college to attend.
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Sudden Need By: Gwen Blount
Unidentified boy at “Rally For Ferguson” August 18, 2014, Memphis, TN.
Photograph By: Brandon O. Tolson
On a recent, mid-summer afternoon, I watched my 9-year-old son, Charles, swing carelessly on a hammock on Martha’s Vineyard. We were in a friend’s backyard in the town of Oak Bluffs, the special piece of an idyllic island which has been inhabited and loved by
home policy was “No Shoes or Bad News Allowed.”
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generations of African-Americans. My husband, son, and I had recently escaped “every day” life in a suburb of New York. We came to Martha’s Vineyard in search of great weather and two weeks of splendor. We were so serious about our escapism mission; our rental
As our flight to Massachusetts lifted off the ground, we left behind a world of worries. This included news coverage of Ebola patients landing in Atlanta and the aftermath of the police chokehold
“Another young, African-American man-child was senselessly killed in cold blood by the hands of those who were supposed to ‘Protect and Serve’ us.” homicide of an African-American named Eric Gardner. We fastened our seatbelts and pledged to “turn off and tune out” anything that wasn’t blissful. The morning news didn’t make the cut. Broadway show tunes and Motown “Oldies” did. They were the perfect background music for hammock swinging. That August afternoon, as the voice of a young Michael Jackson sang “Stop, the love you save may be your own…” over the portable speakers, I couldn’t help but create my own mental mash-up with “Summertime...and the livin’ is easy.” Life is good. A few hours later, we returned to our picturesque rental. This time and place were the reward for countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears – both ours and the generations of hard-working, high-achieving African-Americans who came before us. We eased into evening and wrapped ourselves in the rapture of how far we, individually and as a people, had come. In fact, we were sharing the same rarified air with President Barack Obama and his family, who were also on island. It couldn’t get much better than this.
“MOMMY! MOMMY! DID YOU HEAR???” Charles burst into the bathroom, out of breath from running up the stairs. “Hear what?” I asked, “And stop screaming!” “The police shot an unarmed African-American boy!!! He was just defending himself! Mommy, they killed him! They had cursed at him! They told him to get off the BLEEPING road! They said the F-Word, Mommy! The F-Word! Can you believe it?”
In the distance, I could hear my husband switching to another news outlet. I was able to piece together the tragic event from the day It also couldn’t get much worse. before. On Saturday, August As we changed for dinner, the safe music of 9th, around 12 p.m. CDT, Motown had been replaced by the urgent voices of a black 18-year-old named the television news. Charles had gone rogue and Michael Brown was shot by turned on Cartoon Network. My husband changed a yet-to-be-named white the channel, somehow thinking CNN would be an police officer in the small upgrade. “The unarmed teenager was shot several town of Ferguson, Missouri. times by Ferguson, Missouri police officers.” Someone Eyewitness accounts said turned up the volume and increasingly horrific details Michael Brown was walking floated through the house. in the middle of a street with a friend when he was I continued my trivial grooming, but listened attentively approached by a police car. hoping to hear some explanation that would help it Words were exchanged and all make sense. Who was I kidding? There was none. witnesses say Brown put up Another young, African-American man-child was his arms in surrender. While senselessly killed in cold blood by the hands of those the facts were still being who were supposed to “Protect and Serve” us. “Oh God!” I shouted to the bathroom walls. “Not again!” I thought as I smeared on moisturizer. “His poor mother,” I whispered as I reapplied my lip gloss. Southern Soul l September 2014 | 79
“I cried for what had happened and what was happening. I cried for the mothers of Michael Brown, Eric Gardner, and countless others who lost their sons to police brutality.” investigated and spun, one thing was indisputable. Michael Brown was unarmed when he was shot multiple times and killed. As I listened to the story, I grabbed and hugged my son tightly. His little brown chest both heaved for air and filled with indignation. Never mind that the facts were in dispute. In his head, the police shot a black child who was simply defending himself…or standing his ground. In the mind of my child, Michael Brown did what you were supposed to do when cursed at by the police…and they shot him! In the blink of an eye, the policemen who had always been good in Charles’ eyes, were not. In my son’s 9-year-old mind, he was supposed to verbally defend himself when someone disrespected him. After all, isn’t that what we had taught him as soon as he was able to comprehend? Hadn’t we spent the majority of his 3rd grade year teaching him to “advocate for himself ” – as his school directed? Didn’t we pump him with confidence and positive self-esteem from the moment he took a gulp of oxygen? Use your words – not your hands -- to defend yourself.
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I held my son and then called for my husband. I knew this day was coming, I just didn’t expect it so soon. I wasn’t ready to lose my little boy to young manhood. Not now. Not in this place. Not at the beginning of my self-proclaimed “trouble-free” vacation. His father came, took him out of my arms, and in a measured voice, started The Talk. His voice was filled with love, sorrow, and experience.
As Charles listened, I began to cry. I cried for what had happened and what was happening. I cried for the In that instant, I knew it was time mothers of Michael Brown, Eric for “The Talk.” It’s the talk every parent of a black son has sooner or Gardner, and countless others who later, warning them how to behave lost their sons to police brutality. when stopped by police officers. It’s I cried for all the mothers who would never hold their sons again. the talk that can be as life-saving I cried because I knew that deep as CPR. It’s the talk we pray will down inside, no matter how much save our son from being arrested my husband and I counseled and at best, killed at the worst. It’s the sheltered our son, nothing but the talk that applies in the polished suburbs of New York and the dusty grace of God would truly protect him from a quick-triggered, illsuburbs of St. Louis. It’s The Talk that doesn’t begin with “If you are trained or just plain racist cop. I cried because at 9 years of age, my stopped,“ but rather “When you son was listening to his father give are stopped...” The Talk. In this discussion, we are supposed That night in bed, I had my own to counsel our sons on how not talk with God. I prayed for the be “menacing.” How to reach for their license or registration in slow, family of Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson, Missouri. I deliberate, announced motions. prayed for my son and all of our How to avoid “threatening” sons. I prayed that one day, The behavior. We have to tell them Talk would be unnecessary. I to take abuse without fighting prayed that my son would continue back. We must tell them to become subservient, contradicting to like and respect police officers. Most of all, I prayed that police everything we say about being a officers would respect my son. confident black man. We must teach them how to walk through I turned over, closed my eyes, life being a perpetual suspect. and cued up Sam Cooke singing We must teach them the perils of in my mind, “A Change is Gonna being a African-American man Come….” After all... It is summer. in America, whether you’re on The living is supposed to be easy. Martha’s Vineyard or in Ferguson, Missouri. In short, we have to tell them to put their hands up and to tuck their pride and dignity in.
Thank You for your support! I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR EXERCISING YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE IN THE AUGUST GENERAL ELECTION. To those that voted for me and contributed to the campaign, I would like to say a special thank you for having faith in my vision for Shelby County. Although we were not successful, I believe we sent a strong message to our county leaders about the needs of our community. We cannot continue to be status quo when we have the highest poverty rate in this country and one of the highest unemployment rates in the state of Tennessee. I believe we have an obligation to ourselves, families and other citizens moving forward to be the change we want to see in our communities. We have to hold those that we elect accountable. I know I will. I ask that you join me. Again thank you and may God continue to Bless You.
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Published on Sep 1, 2014
Southern Soul Magazine is dedicated to showcasing lifestyles of Mid-South Families of Color by providing insightful and quality coverage. So...