New Path for Memphis

On Saturday the 12th, New Path in partnership with the Memphis Urban League held a standing room only forum on race relations in Memphis. The diverse audience of over 150 packed into the National Civil Rights Museum’s Main Gallery to hear and express views on how Memphis can move beyond race.

The panelists included Shelby County Commissioner Sidney Chism who has been known to speak from the heart. His passionate plea for Memphians to see beyond “the color of one’s skin” was felt by all. Desi Franklin, First Vice Chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party did not bite her tongue as she discussed the many myths held by both Blacks and Whites and how these were keeping our City divided. Mr. Marcus Pohlmann a professor at Rhodes College and Attorney David Cocke both shared statistical evidence to the financial and physical impact the racial-divide is having on our City. Moving from the Civil War to the Election of Mayor Herenton, Mr. Pohlmann gave an interesting historical framework to how the culture of Memphis was formed. He discussed the impact of the Freedman’s Bureau, the Yellow Fever Epidemic and Jim Crow. The final panelist, Dr. Randolph Meade Walker received several rounds of applause as he presented examples of how Boss Crump’s legacy still exists today in the Memphis’ political structure. Mr. Walker spoke of how political ballots were being used to manipulate the voters. A point I have made several times in earlier posts.

The panelists were mostly unanimous on the issues of consolidation; most feeling that the only way Memphis and Shelby County could move forward was for a complete merging of services.

The array of questions that came from the audience showed that there are many citizens in this City who want to move pass the issue of race. New Path and the Memphis Urban League should be praised for putting on this forum. It was enlightening, thought provoking, and very relevant.

New Path’s staff member Tarrin McGhee stated that this was the first of many forums that her agency plans to hold. If they are half as engaging as this one was I am truly looking forward to attending each of them.

If you would like more information on these agencies you may visit their websites at: New Path at and Memphis Urban League at