C3 summit yields land bank plans, more

Tony Jones, Special to The New Tri-State Defender | 8/10/2017, 11:32 a.m.
Coalition of Concerned Citizens (C3) member Lorrie Pafford Garcia capped off a dual event for the group on Saturday (August ...
Dr. Clifford Black (standing) and Al Lewis generated numerous questions and feedback during their interactive symposium on Race and its Role in Shaping Media Coverage and Public Perception. (Photo by Aisha Raison)

Coalition of Concerned Citizens (C3) member Lorrie Pafford Garcia capped off a dual event for the group on Saturday (August 5 ) by announcing that a study is underway to create a land bank aimed at giving more people an equity stake in their neighborhoods.

Social Justice Media Summit Awards

Outlets:

Radio – WLOK

Print – The New Tri State Defender

Digital Media – MLK50: Justice Through Journalism

Television – Fox 13

Personalities:

Radio – Cleveland Bradford, WLOK

Print – Bill Dries, Memphis Daily News

Digital – Wendi Thomas, MLK50

Emerging Personality: Aisha Raison

Television – Greg Coy, Fox 13

Photography – Andrea Morales

Several dozen attendees at the coalition’s inaugural Social Justice Media Summit held at First Congregational Church, where the group is headquartered, received the news warmly. The afternoon summit followed the coalition’s first Books and Breakfast event, which Garcia helped organized, at the Westwood Community Center.

The Summit featured an interactive symposium – presented by Dr. Clifford Black and C3 member Al Lewis – on Race and its Role in Shaping Media Coverage and Public Perception. A Media Awards Ceremony that followed recognized media outlets and personalities that C3 concluded had provided “outstanding, exemplary coverage of contemporary social justice movements in Memphis and the Mid-South.”

The presentation by Black and Lewis generated an overwhelming response, which kept C3 media contact George Boyington busy maintaining the flow.

Black teaches etymology, the study of the meaning of words, as a teaching tool. Knowing word history “frees the individual to step outside roles defined by society,” said Lewis, sharing what he called the epiphany of meeting Dr. Black.

“I don’t have to accept anyone else’s concept or contextual concept of what I am,” Lewis said. “You’re free to choose what you want to be. You’re not black, you’re not Indian, you’re not what anyone else thinks you have to be.

“It’s like the concept of race. You had no concept of it until someone told you about it and you accepted it as your reality. So the question becomes, why are you perpetrating a myth that doesn’t serve you in the first place? Because every time you invoke it you are re-enforcing your own inferiority?”

He introduced his son, Aaron Lewis III, as an example of how Black’s method of “deconstructing” language can open a student’s mind to new levels of learning.

“Imagine what we felt like when the school system told us he was un-teachable,” Lewis said. “After working with Black, he’s earned two degrees from Christian Brothers (University).”

Propelled by questions, Lewis and Black delved into many topics, including how word usage creates stereotypes. “Black on black crime” was a prime example.

“It’s nonsense, and especially to a people who are trying to fight out of an oppressive condition,” Black said. “It was first used as a term by newspaper columnist Carl Rowan and Joe Black, who was vice president of Greyhound (Bus Lines) at the time.

“At the time we had James Brown, Abby Lincoln and many others talking about black power, black pride. And it’s done, in my opinion, as a counter to those type of messages. Once you put something into someone’s brain, it becomes a reality.”