Legends & Leaders: From the Publisher and CEO

Connecting legends and leaders with purpose and intention.

Bernal E. Smith, II | 3/23/2017, 1:41 p.m.
Connecting legends and leaders with purpose and intention.
TSD Publisher & CEO Bernal E. Smith II along with the cover page of the first issue of The Tri-State Defender.

The New Tri-State Defender continues to grow and evolve as a multi-media business that is on a mission to inform, inspire and elevate the community.

As we move forward serving Greater Memphis via our weekly printed newspaper, we now are reaching global audiences through multiple digital platforms. That growth and expansion is complemented by the addition of events that allow us to extend our brand and our mission into the community in effectively penetrating ways.

It is with great purpose and intention that we conduct and support the various events in which we endeavor. Certainly that is the case with our 65th Anniversary Legends and Leaders Gala.

Growth requires that we take time to reflect on and understand the journey, the steps that have brought us to this point. If we are to have more abundant life today, we must study those that struggled, triumphed, toiled and sacrificed so that we could obtain the lessons expressed in their words and actions. Truly it is those lessons that lead to our greatest tomorrows.

Yet and still, we must not miss the history that is evolving before us each day. It is imperative that we appreciate those that are contributing, building, fighting and striving today for better tomorrows.

Tasked with chronicling the past 65 years of history, change and struggle, The New Tri-State Defender (TSD) – at this seminal point in its evolution – pauses this week with dual focus: to acknowledge and reflect on our great contributors and newsmakers of the past; and to shine our spotlight on a new generation of leaders making things happen today.

Ever mindful of our historic commitment to give voice to the community, we chose to use the platform of our 65th Anniversary to recognize and acknowledge legends and leaders and to ensure connectivity and purpose between them.

That is what this celebration is about: the continuum of leadership, the connectivity of generations of leaders within the Greater Memphis community for the sake of greater purpose and outcomes going forward.

Too many times, the things that separate us – race, class, culture and/or generational gaps – take precedence and strand us on the road to our greatest potential. My vision and hope is that this “Legends and Leaders” gala and celebration connects people of influence in a more meaningful way while also opening a path to the many opportunities to work collectively across seasons of purpose to improve our great city.

As a life-long Memphian, I have long observed the disconnect between generations of leaders, particularly in the African-American community. There has been an absence of intentionality towards sharing, nurturing, grooming and passing the torch. In some instances, a tug of war ensued. At other times, the dropped torch had to be picked up from the ground and re-lit.

In both instances, progress was stalled or halted, injuries occurred and the flame flickered out. Rather than leveraging the progress from the previous runners, we found ourselves starting anew. We cannot afford to continue down the path of self-inflicted wounds and setbacks.