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Greater Metro

Memphis Gun Down initiative aims to curb violence

Gun Down-1-600With each passing day, the local news features story after story about gun crimes in our city. Memphis Mayor, A.C. Wharton Jr. and his latest initiative, Memphis Gun Down are saying, "Enough is Enough!"

The Memphis Gun Down program is a five pronged approach to fight gun violence and make the streets of Memphis safer for all citizens. Suppression, community mobilization, youth opportunities, intervention, and organizational change and development are the steps this plan is taking to curb Memphis violence. The ultimate goal of Memphis Gun Down is to decrease gun violence by 10% city-wide and by 20% in South Memphis and Frayser.

Juneteenth Jazz & JAZZ-A-F!RE celebrate

jazz-450Jazz & Memphis' legacy of world-renowned African-American jazz artists will be celebrated Friday, June 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm at the Historic Daisy Theater on Beale Street. The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) founder, Dr. Ronald Myers, will join local Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Festival founder and NJOF board member, Glynn Johns Reed, in collaborating with the Memphis Black Arts Alliance's Jazz-A-F!RE to debut a new Memphis tradition. This event will honor the African-American jazz legacy of internationally acclaimed Memphis musicians saxophonists Charles Lloyd, George Coleman & Frank Strozier, pianists Phineas Newborn & Harold Mabern and the legendary Jimmie Lunceford & His Orchestra.

Following the Lunceford tradition of professional musician-educators, teachers at MBAA's FireHouse Community Arts Academy and friends have formed the Jazz-AF!RE Ensemble. This ensemble which began performing monthly at the FireHouse in 2009, will headline the evening's entertainment. Performers include: Naomi Moody on vocals; Nokie Taylor, trumpet; Kent Suggs, bass; Stephen Lee, keyboard; James Sexton, percussion; and, Lance Thompson, vocals/guitar. FireHouse Jazz-A-F!RE BYOI (Bring Your Own Instrument) favorites, singers and musicians will also perform. Dr. Myers, a physician and an acclaimed musician (piano and trumpet), is the national Juneteenth Jazz artist and will be featured.

New leaders for NAACP youth

naacp-600The Memphis NAACP Youth Council has welcomed in new leadership for the coming year.

Officers and committee chairs were installed at the recent meeting of the Youth Council in their traditional candlelight ceremony. Madeleine Taylor, executive director of the Memphis Branch NAACP, conducted the installation service, which was followed by an address on leadership by D. John Jackson, vice president Global Customer Services/Customer Identity at FedEx.

Malone says she’s in and that Luttrell should be out

DeidreMalone-200Going on now for more than a decade, County Commissioner Sidney Chism's annual political picnic is where the local Democratic Party's big players announce their big news, try to solidify connections and do the sideline pushing to forward agendas.

This year's event was held this past Sunday (June 9) at his urban mini ranch in Whitehaven and it did not disappoint.

At the top of the list was the announcement by former county commissioner Deidre Malone that she will be filing to run for Shelby County Mayor in the Democratic Party primary scheduled for May 6th, 2014.

  • Written by Tony Jones
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Can the Shelby County Democratic Party come off the ropes?

Sidney-Chism-200Longtime Democratic Party power Sidney Chism says he will be leaving public office and front line politics when his term as a county commissioner is completed in 2014.

Now 73 and looking forward to enjoying time at home with his wife and grandchildren, Chism laments that, "Our younger people have lost interest in politics. The fight is not there as it should be because us older guys did not provide an avenue for them to become involved."

In short, Chism said he and his generational peers dropped the ball by not making sure that every segment of the community was fairly included to advance its needs and dreams.

  • Written by Tony Jones
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37 Pre-K classrooms reopened for 2013-14; space still limited

ShelbyCountySchools-250Thirty-seven prekindergarten (Pre-K) classrooms have been reinstated for the 2013-14 school year to boost the number of 4 year olds the unified district can accommodate this fall.

The district reopened 12 classrooms at school sites and 25 at community partner centers, allowing it to now serve a capacity of 3380 Pre-K children.

Since space is limited and the timeframe to enroll is brief, parents across Memphis and Shelby County are strongly urged to apply now during Phase II of the enrollment process, June 11 – 27.

Healthy Church Challenge winners reach the ‘Summit’

Obesity-Summit-1-600Tears welled up in Tonya Thomas' eyes at The Obesity Summit after an official at BlueCross® BlueShield® of Tennessee announced that she'd won first place in the individual category for the most weight lost – 42.6 pounds – during the Healthy Church Challenge 100-day weight loss competition.

Thomas began her weight loss journey in January, when she tipped the scale at 274 lbs. On Feb. 2, she signed up for the Challenge and weighed in at 233.6 lbs., having already lost 40.4 lbs. in one month. She lost an additional 42.6 lbs. during the Challenge for a total weight loss of 83 lbs.

BlueCross® BlueShield® of Tennessee presented the Healthy Church Challenge and The Obesity Summit to educate participants and encourage them to eat a well-balanced diet, exercise and live a healthy lifestyle, both spiritually and physically.

  • Written by Wiley Henry
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Juneteenth festival rolling along 20 years later

Juneteenth-600Anchored in historic Douglass Park in North Memphis, the Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Festival will mark its 20th anniversary June 14-16.

The three-day festival – always jam-packed with activities for the entire family – will be preceded on June 13 by the Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Gala at First Baptist Church-Broad Event Center, 2835 Broad Ave.

Former Mayor and City Schools Supt. Dr. Willie W. Herenton – now a major player in the charter school movement – will keynote the gala, which will honor several Memphians for their contribution and commitment to the African-American community. The gala is set for 7 p.m.