Vol. 2, Issue 2 February 2020 KEEPING YOU UP-TO-DATE MONTHLY WITH THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN SHELBY COUNTY, TN i LoveShe l byCoun ty . c om LETTER FROM THE EDITOR By Yvonne D. Nelson, Ph.D., CNC Everyday is BLACK HISTORY Day at NEWSCENE, where NEWS is SEEN; however, this month we made a special effort to focus in on seasoned individuals ages 70 and above who have made a significant impact in racerelations right here in Memphis, Tennessee. We invite you to sit back, relax, and read about some of these individuals and encourage you to reach out and help someone if you can. NEWSCENE is always looking for new content and we hope you will consider sharing your stories with us soon. Please remember to follow us and to subscribe online at iLoveShelbyCounty.com. For those of you who prefer hard copies, thanks for your subscriptions. Subscribe to our printed editions online for $84/year, $42/bi-annually, or purchase a single copy for the low cost of $7/month. You can call us at 901-300-0390, subscribe and/or pay online, or make your check made payable to DI’MANS, Inc. We are always looking forward to getting your emails at NEWSCENEShelbyCo@gmail.com. We can also be contacted by mail at DI’MANS, Inc. dba NEWSCENE, I Love Shelby County.com, P.O. Box 9146, Memphis, TN 38190-0146. HAPPY ‘BLACK FACTS’ IS EVERY DAY MONTH! Thank you, ABOUT THIS NEWSCENE ‘BLACK FACTS’ EDITION... By Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson As the story goes and through the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, black people in America were subjected to unfair practices in every aspect of their lives. Although there were those who challenged this fact, most were too afraid to say or do anything about it and many who tried to change things were unsuccessful in their attempts to so. Because we are a determined people, many Black leaders became household names around the country. While we certainly do salute these individuals for their sacrifices, we also want and need to pay tribute to the less-known names, many of who were responsible for making significant changes in race relations right here in Memphis, TN. Since I myself was not born and raised in Memphis (even though my grandparents, mother, and three uncles were Memphians in the 40s before deciding to migrate to Milwaukee where I was born), I have relied on relationships I have formed since arriving in Memphis 30+ years ago; friends, including Mr. Andrew Withers, son of photographer Ernest C. Withers (someone I fondly called ‘Dad’), and a few others including Orange Mound historian, Ms. Mary Elizabeth Mitchell, to gather information on who to interview. My interviewing criteria was simple. I only wanted people who I could interview today. They would need to be at least three score and 10 years (70) old and I would need for them to provide me with photographs of them from their past. I would also require to only speak to individuals who could recount their past (as accurately as possible). Here is my disclaimer. Should anything you read in this publication waiver from your personal memory, so be it. Unless I personally have made a mistake in quoting an interviewee (which the interviewee him or herself had the opportunity to correct and obviously did not), no corrections will be forthcoming. NEWSCENE tries to be as accurate as possible in recounting days gone by, but we are only human and humans do make mistakes. We hope you will enjoy this and every NEWSCENE edition we publish and we pray you will support our efforts to keep print media alive. ®

Ford Nelson Story By Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson As part of the 2020 NEWSCENE Relevant Facts about Blacks in Memphis, we interviewed Mr. Alfordson Nelson, one of, if not the longest serving employee of WDIA, a radio station that went on the air June 7, 1947, according to several online sources. Alfordson “Ford” Nelson was born June 25, 1925. Raised in the northern section of Memphis, Ford fondly remembered bits and pieces of growing up in the Klondike Neighborhood. “I can remember attending the Klondike School for Kindergarten,” said Nelson, 94 who remembers living at 927 Alaska Street when it was the first street concrete was laid on in the area. “It was a very popular area around Christmas time and at other times when we kids would get on our skates and attract people from all the other streets in the community. We would skate down the concreted street and ride our bicycles on it. We had some good times.” In those days, parents were said to take to naming their children for famous people. Alfordson was named after the famous Ford Motor Company. He had a brother named Thomas Edison Nelson and another brother, who is still living, was named Lindbergh Nelson. When asked, he could not explain who sisters Portia and Josie were named after, but mentioned that Josie played the piano as the children walked from class to class at Manassas High School and later taught music and became a musician at the historic St. John Baptist Church now located on Vance Street. “I was baptized at Friendship Baptist Church and also attended Grant Elementary School,” said Nelson who said the church was still located in North Memphis, but had moved to a new location. “I was a Boy Scout as a kid and I remember joining a quartet at church.” His deep baritone voice, as he recounted, would have the superintendent laughing from the boom, boom sounds of him singing as he alternated from tenor to bass and back again. When asked if his low-pitched voice was something he was born with, Nelson responded, “I guess so. I’m very modest about that you know!” Nelson, who stated he lived in constant fear of his teachers because of corporal punishment, graduated from Manassas High School in the early 40s. 2

“I can remember our Principal at Manassas was Mr. Hayes and the Assistant Principal was named Teague,” said Nelson. “Things PHOTOS By Tony Wright were just so different in those days. Wherever we went we would walk because it was not as much danger out in the community. You could go out at night – all the way from Klondike where I lived to the theatre on Chelsea near Hollywood in North Memphis. Yes, we could hear dogs barking, but no one would bother us.” After graduation, the teenaged Nelson picked up work as a laborer, manually unloading clothes for a dress shop. He was drafted into WWII in the 40s, but never served overseas. “As a loose figure, I would have to say I served about 20-something months,” said Nelson as he struggled to remember days gone by. “What happened was when they were examining us, I passed the examination, but when they drafted us to send us overseas, they discovered that I had flat feet! I was still in the Army, but I never did serve overseas. I believe I did my basic training at Camp (Fort) Lee in Virginia.” Sometime after returning to Memphis, Nelson began playing the piano for B.B. King. King was already on the radio and the powers to be were watching Nelson although he did not know it at the time. “They (WDIA owners Bert Ferguson and John Pepper) asked me to do my own show,” said Nelson who played the piano for 15 minutes and encouraged all his listening audience to purchase Folders Mountain Grown Coffee, a leader in the coffee field still today. “My first sponsor was Folders Mountain Grown Coffee. They had a prepared script for me. The line I made famous was ‘Mountain Grown Folders Coffee, Mountain Grown!’ I started playing gospel music after that and one thing led to another. That’s when we all figured out that I was a little more comfortable doing gospel. My first show was called, ‘Let’s Have Some Fun!’” Nelson would emcee and co-emcee programs at Mason and Clayborn Temple in downtown Memphis. He remembered being a significant part of performances held at the old Ellis Auditorium, a 10,000-seat multipurpose arena that put Memphis on the map in the mid-20s, that used to sit in downtown Memphis on the corner of Poplar and Front Streets. Active from the 20s through the late 50’s, the Memphis Red Sox Negro League Baseball team who played at Martin Stadium was another location that hosted many events Nelson played a significant role in. Groups came from all over the county to attend these events,” said Nelson. “A.C. (Andrew Charles) “Moohah” Williams, the first 3


black employee and announcer at WDIA, had a group of rotating teenage singers he called the Teen Town Singers. I can’t remember all of their names, but there was Robert “Honey Boy” Thomas; Markhum ‘Mark’ L. Stansbury Sr. who is still working for WDIA; Dorothy Herenton, the sister of former Memphis Mayor, Dr. W. W. Herenton; Rufus and his daughter, Carla Thomas; Isaac Hayes, and so many more. WDIA became known as the Goodwill Station because we raised money to help needy families through charity shows like the Goodwill and Starlight charity fundraisers. These were well-organized events. Some featured a skit and entertainers like the Soul Stirrers, Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland and the Staple Singers. I would be remiss not to mention Nat D. Williams who was a school teacher at Booker T. Washington High School at the time. He also taught at LeMoyne College and would leave class to come to the radio station to perform his show.” As Nelson continued to reminisce, he spoke of Temple Time, meeting and interviewing Sam Cooke, and using an old-fashioned microphone to broadcast from the radio station. “My personality was just more suitable for gospel,” said Nelson whose favorite line has him now introducing himself as Alfordson Nelson, BC – Before Computers. “I loved working on Sunday’s, but sometimes I just couldn’t get that computer to act right. Bobbie O’Jay and his wife would drive all the way down to the station to help me out of my fix, but I just couldn’t grasp that new technology. When corporate took over, the whole atmosphere changed. Even my working hours were cut back.” Nelson retired on October 26, 2014, after giving WDIA 64 years of his life. He gave the Folders Coffee Company quite a bit of his life too. You would think that Nelson would be living a painless retirement at 94 years of age, but truth be told, he’s barely making ends meet on a meager monthly social security check for income. “WDIA gave me a nice retirement party,” said Nelson who still lives in his original home in Walker Homes and walked away with somewhere between two and three thousand dollars after the retirement party was over. “I was about 88-years old when I retired and the only time I dreaded going to work was when it was due to inclement weather. I spent most of my life at WDIA and I don’t regret a minute of it. I’ve interviewed a lot of people, but I’ve never been interviewed myself. I’m pretending like I’m not enjoying this, but I really am . Having been in radio all these years, my ego is really going up!” At the height of his career, back on April 22, 1953, Mr. Alfordson Nelson purchased lot number 0258 in the J.E. Walker Homes subdivision in Memphis, TN, for $7,900.00. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today’s prices in 2020 are 966.28% higher than average prices since 1950. In other words, $7,900.00 in 1950 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $84,236.29 in 2020, a difference of $76,336.29 over 70 years. If Nelson’s home is assessed at $6,525.00 today, where is the $69,811.29 dollar difference? I thought and was always total that property is supposed to appreciate, not depreciate. “Walker Homes had not been annexed to the city when I moved out here,” stated Nelson on January 4, 2020. “You would get the street car as far as you could, then you’d have to get a taxi. It was kind of muddy and sandy back in those days.” Some sources of grant and loan funding for home repairs for low– and very-low income elderly, disabled, and special needs Tennesseans are available through the (1) Tennessee Housing Trust Fund (2) Weatherization Assistance Program & Shelby County Community Services Agency, 901.222.4315, 3772 S. Hickory Ridge Mall, Ste. 516; (3) the HOME Program - Application period runs through March 8, 2020. Visit “How to Apply for a HOME Grant at https://thda.org/business-partners/home; and the (4) Emergency Repair Program (ERP). Visit https://thda.org/homeowners/erp for more information and program qualifications, visit the Tennessee Housing Development Agency online at https://thda.org/ or by phone at 615.815.2200 for general program information. COPYRIGHTS Kevin Fleming, CEO/Publisher/Editor; editor@theurbanbuzz.com, (323) 788-1231 http://theurbanbuzz.com/?p=8598 Devin Steel, iHeartRadio Regional Program Manager; 1070 WDIA, mywdia.iheart.com, (901) 259-1300 https://mywdia.iheart.com/featured/bev-johnson/content/2018-06-26-happy-birthday-to-wdias-legendary-bro-ford-nelson/ Larry Coyne/The Commercial Appeal files; Mid-South Memories: Dec 31; 25 years ago: 1991 https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/local/mid-south-memories/2016/12/30/mid-south-memories-dec-31/95865340/ 5

Mary Elizabeth Mitchell (Top from left, center, and right) Ma r y E l i z abe t h Mi t che l l throughout the years. (Below left) Paying tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King by attending his funeral services in At l an t a , GA, in 1968, were (bottom left from left) Mary E. Mitchell, Bobbie E. Hughes Sanders, Andrew Young (seated in car), Jean Scott, and Mary Wilkes (not pictured, Odessa Marie Jones Smith). The group traveled to Atlanta with the legendary Memphis Mobilizers. Pictured in 1962 at the Flamingo are (bottom from right) Rose Keel, Mary E. Mitchell, and Juanita Tate. 6

Story By Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson Mary Elizabeth Mitchell grew up in a caring and loving environment in the quaint community of Orange Mound, a mostly black subdivision of Memphis, TN established towards the end of the 19th Century. Surrounded by her paternal grandparents, aunts, and uncles, Mitchell was never without the nurturing that can and will make or break a child. “I had a great time growing up,” said Mitchell, 83, who was born August 25, 1936, the first born to the union of Dora Foster Jones and Willie Duckett Young ‘DY’ Jones who married December 25, 1926 and lived on Marechaneil Street. “My paternal grandmother was just good. We just loved each other. We just respected each other. It was like a magical life that I lived.” Mitchell’s neighborhood bonds included relatives, friends. and many people whose descendants still reside in the Orange Mound area. “All of these were my houses,” said Mitchell referring to her home and those of her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other generational Orange Mound family’s life hers. “Jacqueline Randolph, a member of New Era Baptist Church, has been in the same house for over 100 years. Frank Hurt has lived on Baltimore for the past 107 years and so has the Stevenson House on short Hamilton which was purchased by John Chandler.” As she reminisced of days gone by, Mitchell talked about how magical life was growing up in Orange Mound. “The adults were good to us,” said Mitchell. The kids didn’t always get along, but we never got bricks or guns or anything like that. The older children had to take us to the park and watch us to make sure we were safe.” During those years, Melrose was a 1st through 12th grade school. Mitchell remembers her aunt, who she fondly called a surrogate mother of hers, taking her and Stump Daddy George Brown, who became a really good golfer, to Melrose to enroll them in the first grade. “After we got registered my auntie took us to Crawford’s Sundry,” said Mitchell explaining that the building was the site of the Photo credit: Jamie Griffin/Whitehaven Branch Library first post office in a black community in Memphis, is still standing on Carnes Avenue and still owned by the same family to this day. “We got a wire tablet and pencil.” After graduating from Melrose, Mitchell needed a job, but she had no desire to perform domestic work. Her home room and home economics teacher, Ms. Fraser, knew she didn’t want to cook or sew because Mitchell had told her that her grandmother had already taught her those skills. Fraser told Mitchell that she could be her assistant and help her with her grades. Fraser lived in North Memphis and made a trip to Orange Mound to speak to Mitchell’s father and auntie since her grandmother had died by that time. Fraser knew a white family that had a store and Mitchell would be a good person to employ there. “Well, they didn’t hire me in their store, but they did hire me in their house,” said Mitchell. “I could walk to work, but I chose to and went to nursing school right after that.” Another neighbor, Ms. Purnell then approached Mitchell about a different job. “She said Mary Elizabeth, what do you know about sizing hats?” said Mitchell. “I didn’t know anything about sizing hats, but Ms. Purnell worked at this cleaners – Evergreen Cleaners, it’s still there – and she told me that she knew I could learn it. They need somebody to size hats. See, people in the neighborhood would take you to a job, that’s why I love this place! She took me down there and I learned how to size hats. Then I took the test and made a score that allowed me to enroll in nursing school to be a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). “Clara Goodall’s aunt Mattie knew we were in school and needed money. Ms. Mattie was in charge of the nursery at Bellevue Baptist, the church we know as Mississippi Boulevard today. You didn’t have to have an application. All we had to do, if Ms. Mattie Sanders said that Mary Elizabeth worked, that’s how we got our jobs. After the service was over, I had never seen a church that big with auditorium seats, we would have to go and lift every seat so the grown women could come with those big dust mops and clean up under. We told Aunt Mattie that we wanted her to tell the people that we wanted them to leave a nickel on the arm of every seat because they know they’re supposed to tip. It didn’t work, but they had big kitchens with lots of food in them and Ms. Mattie would just get all of us that food for our families. They may not have known it, but Bellevue Baptist church fed the hood. They fed some babies in Orange Mound!” Mitchell got married in 1962, but it didn’t work out. “Even at 83, I’m not the marrying kind!” she exclaimed. By this time, the Universal Life Insurance Company had opened. Mitchell took and passed the test and was hired as the first African American keypunch operator for the Tennessee Department of Safety in Nashville, TN. She grew tired of Nashville and wanted 7

to come back to Memphis so she eventually transferred her employment to the Psychiatric Hospital that used to sit at the intersection of Poplar and Dunlap. “I was the only black in the whole department in Nashville, but most of the people there treated me real nice,” said Mitchell who had problems after relocating back to Memphis. “I handled my problems in Memphis by exercising my rights.” Still wanting to be in a medical field, Mitchell jumped at the chance in 1965 when the Memphis Vocational School opened up classes for operating room technicians to African Americans. “I took the test for that and found out I had passed it,” said Mitchell who then found out the organization had given her score to another person with her same name. “She had already been in class for a couple of months when I called to see why I hadn’t heard from them. So I asked them what they were going to do about this error and they told me a medical records class was coming up soon and that my scores were high enough for it. I accepted the offer since that would be the first time ever Memphis had a medical records class for African Americans.” As Mitchell neared graduation from the medical records class she and other students pending graduation began to receive the medical industry’s professional magazine. “Meharry Medical College, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Nashville, TN, had an ad for a medical records assistant. Since I had graduated, I applied but went to St. Louis with my sister who was in Memphis with her ex-Mother-in-Law visiting. At the time I did not have a job and I needed one. After arriving in St. Louis, I applied for, was offered, and accepted the medical records position at the Missouri Pacific Railroad Hospital. I was the first African American to be hired in the position.” About a 3 week to a month later, Mitchell got a call saying someone from Meharry Medical College had phoned. At the time she had two options – listen to a suitor who wasn’t really suitable for her single lifestyle or staying at the Missouri Pacific Railroad Hospital and taking a position as a Medical Records Consultant. “Meharry is a prestigious school,” said Mitchell who returned to Nashville and accepted the opening as the assistant to Monica Wilkins, a decendent and niece of the NAACP-related Wilkins. “When she left for a job in Nebraska, I became the Director of Medical Records at Meharry Medical College where I stayed until I wanted to come back home again and applied at St. Jude.” Mitchell was hired at St. Jude, received promotions and was elevated to the position of Assistant, but St. Jude refused to promote her to the position of Medical Director. “St. Jude did not want me, a black woman, to be the Director,” said Mitchell. “Laura Kettering, a white woman was the Medical Director at the World Health Organization (WHO) told the powers to be at St. Jude that if they did not promote me to the position of Medical Director, she would take the issue up with the WHO so they complied.” Mitchell, being the type of person she is, made friends with everyone from the janitors to the maids and the professionals – white and the few blacks there were at the time – at St. Jude. In due time it became obvious to Mitchell that there was something wrong with the structure of the organization. “We were professionals in the sense of not being in housekeeping,” said Mitchell speaking of herself and her newly made friends in non-exempt employee status. “Just a few of us could eat in the big fancy dining room. The housekeepers, you know, they told me that they couldn’t eat where we ‘high-class negroes ate when I asked why I never saw them in the big, fancy dining room. So they told me they ate behind the cafeteria and I joined them one day. It was hot and the only air was coming from fans blowing hot air around.” Another management-level employee, Ms. Tier who was over the dietary department, saw Mitchell dining with her staff one day and inquired as to why she was eating there. “I would be in department head meetings with her,” said Mitchell. “I told her that I was having lunch with my friends and then I told them that they didn’t have to eat behind the cafeteria any longer reminding them that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed.” Mitchell encouraged those who were not afraid of themselves and their rights to eat with her in the big fancy dining room, but said that really upset some of the St. Jude management level employees and the company didn’t waste much time getting her fired. “Of course they restructured the department to make it seem legal,” said Mitchell who ended up with a subordinate whose real job was to watch her coming and goings. “The next thing I knew I was being told that my children were calling me too much at work.” Mitchell wrote a letter to the Civil Rights Division in Atlanta, GA involved and they forced St. Jude to return Mitchell to full employment status. 8

Ms. (Reed) Echols, Mary Elizabeth Mitchell (with star at feet) and the Brownie Scout Troop of 1945-1946© “It was in 1968 and I had comp time and wanted to take off to go to Atlanta to pay my final respects to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Mitchell. “I was told that I could not take off, but I took off anyway and went to the funeral in Atlanta with some of my friends. I told them that they give Italians Columbus Day off and they let the Jews off for Yom Kippur. Why couldn’t I be off for King’s funeral? King is our King I told them. I’m going to Atlanta and I’ll deal with it when I get back.” That was pretty much the end of Mitchell’s journey at and with St. Jude Children’s Hospital, but before she left, and she certainly knew her days were limited, she wanted to make sure she was replaced by another African American woman. She worked closed with a former medical records classmate, Ann and the two of them drafted a job description that only Ann could fill. “I could feel it in the air,” said Mitchell. “I told Ann that I wanted to help her to get the job so we wrote the job description up to match qualifications that only she had. They would frequently come to me saying doctor so-in-so’s wife used to work in radiology in Florida asking me didn’t I think she was qualified for my position. Oh no, I would tell them. Medical Records is a specialized field and the only person she would hire would have to be one that met her requirements. After all she told them, 60% of a hospital’s accreditation, at that time, was dependent on their ability to successfully keep accurate medical records and the remaining 40% was split between nursing and dietary. She then referred them to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (currently Healthcare Organizations) rulings of the time.” Mitchell was happy to report that her friend remained in that position. Mitchell eventualy left St. Jude and took a position at the former Collins Chapel Hospital. “Besides Mitchell says, “If I hadn’t done it the way I did it my grandmother would have come back and slapped me!” All pictures in this store are courtesy of Mary Elizabeth Mitchell’s personal files. 9

Pleas Jones Story by Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson Pleas Jones was about 8 or 9 years old when he was first introduced to the game of golf around 1949. “Back in ’49 one of my neighbors mentioned the city was going to build a golf course at Douglass Park in north Memphis,” said Jones. “They came out with bulldozers one day and began cutting down trees and leveling the land. I had no idea what golf was at the time. I had never heard of it, but a group of black golfers had gotten together and went to work to get an 18-hole golf course built.” In those days, black golfers didn’t have an 18-hole course to play at and they were not welcomed at the 18-hole courses, like Audubon, designed for whites. “I learned a lot about the game of golf from Dollar Sanders,” said Jones who was real observant of the game. “I devoted a lot of time learning the game. I had a good start and it helped by working on as a caddy. Way back in the 50’s, my friends and I would slip out at night to play at Douglass. There were two holes that ran right down the side of Ash Street. The holes were lit by street lights. One light was right in front of our house and the other, the one we would hit at, was right there where Douglass Elementary School was at the corner of Amett and Ash streets. There were many occasions when we would get chased off by the police.” Jones said he got to be so good at the game that when he would hit the ball he knew the direction it would travel in when it left his club. “I knew which direction to go looking for my ball in,” said Jones. “By the time I would walk down there I would see it. I could identify and see it from the street light. We did that for quite a while.” Jones said the reason why he fell in love with the game of golf had a direct relationship to black golfers of the day like Dollar Sanders, Rob and Dick Wright and others who would come to the course to practice and play. “They were hitting and we were tagging the balls,” said Jones referring to picking up golf balls. “There I was enjoying myself chasing those balls and when we would get through they paid us! That is what fascinated me. I would have chased those balls for free. Can you imagine, between 1949 and 1951, chasing golf balls and putting them in a bag and getting 50 cents for doing it? That was a pretty good little piece of change in those days.” Jones was fascinated as he watched Sanders play golf. “I had never seen anybody hit a ball that far,” said Jones. “To see a ball travel up to 250 yards. The only thing I had seen at that time was baseball.” The Douglass 9-hole golf course opened around 1951 and a need for caddies to carry the players golf bags developed quickly. “I didn’t know the players, but I remember when the course opened in 1951,” said Jones. “I was about 8 or 9 years old. Back then they didn’t have golf carts, not even pull carts. We had to tote those bags and that’s how I got into it. I was good early and I played the game for the love of the game.” During those years, clubs were grouped by location and Memphis was part of the Central States Golf Clubs. “You could only play in the tournament if you were a member of a member club,” said Jones. “One year at our meeting it was decided to hold the tournament in Memphis. It had been to other cities, but it had never been held in Memphis because the black golfers did not have an 18-hole golf course. When it was voted to hold the tournament in Memphis, a group of the more prominent and well-known blacks petitioned the powers to be and got permission to hold the event at segregated Audubon Park Golf Course. They loaned us the course, but didn’t want to keep doing that, so it was kind of easy to talk the city into building an 18-hole course for blacks even though it was our dollars that funded Audubon. We were discriminated against in a lot of other things, but we know better 10

(Above) Pleas Jones had a hard time when he was convinced by Dr. I.A. Watson Jr., DDS to sign up for the National Publix golf tournament, but he won the City Publix on numerous occasions. Here Jones (left) is pictured with the small trophy he kept and the larger trophy that remained with him for one year until he passed it on to that year’s winner. Considering all the first place trophies won by Jones, why is it that The Commercial Appeal always manages to pull up pictures of his second place efforts he wonders? All pictures in this store are courtesy of Pleas Jones’s personal files. now. Back then we didn’t realize that we had the right to these things and we were therefore denied a lot of rights we should have had being tax-paying citizens. We were just ignorant to the fact.” The June 2019 edition of NEWSCENE featured a full-length story regarding the T.O. Fuller State Park which was the first state park opened for African Americans east of the Mississippi River. According to the park’s website T.O. Fuller State Park opened in 1938 as the Shelby County Negro State Park, the name was changed to T.O. Fuller State Park in 1942 in honor of Dr. Thomas Oscar Fuller, another one of those prominent persons mentioned throughout this story. Fuller was an educator, pastor, politician, civic leader, and author who spent his life empowering and educating African Americans. He served as principal of the Howe Institute, a precursor to LeMoyne-Owen College for 27 years. “I never knew for years, even though I knew the golf course was named T.O. Fuller, that Fuller was a black man,” said Jones who was a member of the Sam Quarles Golf Club during those years. “Early on I was going with Dollar Sanders because I was caddying for him. I got into the club when I was real young because I was good enough to play in tournaments. That’s when I began to play golf. We traveled to Kansas City and St. Louis, MO; Nashville, Des Moines, IA, and other places. We were the junior flight golfers. The first time I went to St. Louis to play, there were two other juniors from Memphis playing. We would always get there in time to play a practice round. The first time I saw the golf course I shot an even par. Of course it was kind of a practice round, but we finished 1, 2, and 3, in first, second, and third place.” Jones continued to perfect his game throughout the years and the next decade brought a new set of rules to the deep south. Continued on Page 20 11

(Top left) Douglass community golfers Odessa Dickens Hayes of the Hayes-Nickleberry Golf Classic and Pleas Jones. (Top right) Golfer, mentor, and trainer Dollar Sanders (left) and former trainee, then semi-pro golfer Pleas Jones. (Bottom left) African American golfers Pleas Jones, (from left), Mason West, and Walter Anderson at a Sickle Cell Golf Tournament. (Bottom right) Pleas Jones is pictured golfing in 1975. (Page 13, Top left) Pleas Jones with one of the larger Publix trophies before he returned it to the organization. (Page 13, Center) Friends and golfers Robert Elliott (deceased) of Humboldt, TN and Pleas Jones. (Page 13, right) Some of the many trophies won by semi-pro golfer, Pleas Jones, prior to him giving most of his trophies away. 12

“As soon as they declared segregation was unconstitutional, I went into restaurants I couldn’t afford to go in just for the hell of it and I started playing at segregated golf courses and country clubs,” said Jones who said he defied a lot of things. “I didn’t show or really have any fear or intimidation. I just acted like I belonged there, but there were times when that expression ‘you know your place’ would come out. Back in the day some things just didn’t happen. I will never forget another neighbor who was in the Air Force. I had just bought my first car and I took a friend girl with me to take my neighbor over to his base in Blytheville, AR. Coming back we want to get something to eat. We got inside this little cafe and saw nothing but white folks wearing straw hats and overalls. They all began looking at us strangely, but I took pride in doing that kind of thing. They couldn’t refuse us service, but thinking back now I can’t help but to wonder if they spit in our food or something. They were looking so hard at us. That was when I learned not to show fear or intimidation. The same thing happened to me at a restaurant that, up until recently, sat at the corner of Summer and Holmes. They were looking at me so hard that I felt like a signified monkey. I just recited in my head: I’m raggedy, but I’m round here; I wasn’t invited, but I’m down here. Now you let some SOB try to put me out!” “Me and Wade Scott went out to Audubon after they declared segregation unconstitutional. By this time, they had developed pull carts. You had to pay to play, so we went inside to pay for the course and the cart. It was something like sixty-five cents which included fifteen cents for the pull cart. I had put my golf bag on the outside where the pull carts were lined up and I was pulling the pull cart towards my golf bag when this white guy appeared. We were kind of zig-zagging to avoid running into one another and he kicked the cart out of my hand. I let it go, but Scott said if that SOB would have knocked that cart out of my hand… I stopped him in the middle of his statement and said, ‘We just getting out here and all they need is for us to raise some hell and give them a reason to say that’s why we don’t need them niggers out here.’ As I thought back I knew that I was used to doing things that I had to swallow and recalled being on the bus when we used to ride the bus to Easyway downtown to go shopping. On this particular day the bus was practically empty when this young white boy boarded. He got on the bus and came all the way near the back of the bus to sit down when all those empty seats were up front. In those days, blacks couldn’t sit in front of a white person on the bus. If you got on that bus and there were whites all the way to the back, you had to go behind them to sit or stand up and they would purposely go it from time-to-time.” “My momma and daddy had explained to me these are things you can’t do and you don’t think about doing them. People would tell you about things so you wouldn’t make no mistakes. That’s just the way I felt. I wasn’t looking for no trouble and I wasn’t going to try to make no trouble. Somebody has got to do it. They talk about fear and I can understand that, but I wasn’t intimidated back in the day. I long ago decided that I wouldn’t join a county club. They seem to be designed to kind of make you feel uppity. I don’t feel inferior to nobody and I don’t feel superior to nobody either. I don’t care how much money you got or what position you hold. I’m not going to allow you to put me down or make me feel less than. I had that mindset and I’ve carried it with me. I laugh about it now, but it would be hell to pay if some white person tried to treat me bad today.” 13

Velma Lois Jones Story by Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson Velma Lois Jones, MBA grew up in north Memphis. “I was born at 1339 Austin,” said Jones who began school at the age of 5-years old. “You were supposed to start school when you were six, but I had a cousin who was married to the first grade teacher at Hyde Park Elementary School.” Jones transferred to Manassas, a 1st – 12th grade and the only school on the north side of Memphis for blacks. After graduating from Manassas, she attended LeMoyne College. When Jones began looking for a job after graduating from LeMoyne, she noticed that almost all of her classmates were already working. “When I left LeMoyne and got my Masters’ degree, I really wanted it in English and Math, but Tennessee State did not offer the degree that I wanted. At that time the state paid for you to pay for you to go outside of the state. That’s how I got to Columbia, the state paid for me to go. I had never been to New York so I said this is my chance!” Jones spent three summer intersessions at Columbia and graduated with a Masters’ degree in Education a year early and then return to Memphis. While attending Columbia University, she lived with a former classmate’s sister rather than on campus which she said was quite an advantage. “My momma told me when I got out of college she was through and that I was going to have to take care of myself,” said Jones whose mother told her she was going to have to get a job. “I was told that I better major in Elementary Education because they weren’t hiring many blacks in the upper grades and certainly not as administrators. At that time, it is sad to say, but in order to get a job in the Shelby County Schools system, you had to know somebody or know a prominent white person which is how I got my job.” Jones was told that she could probably go to Mississippi to get a job or work as a substitute teacher in Memphis. “I went home crying and told my mother what I had been told,” said Jones. “My mother called Mr. Herbert Humphrey and told him what the lady had said to me. The rest is history.” Jones’ mother worked for the Humphrey’s family who owned Humko, a local oil company. Working for Humko allowed her mother to be considered as knowing a prominent white person. Her mother called Humphrey on that Friday evening and on Sunday morning Mr. Ernest Ball, Superintendent of Memphis City Schools called me Sunday morning. “Mr. Ball told me that I was to report to Mr. Bland at Hyde Park School on Monday morning and that he would assign me to my job,” said Jones. “That system still works that way, but it may not be as bad today. It ain’t what you know, it’s who you know.” Jones began to describe the challenges for ambitious blacks majoring in education during those days. “You had black men principals in predominantly black areas, but there were no women principals,” said Jones. “We always had a spokesperson for the blacks during segregation. Blair Hunt was the spokesman. Anything you wanted to get to the white folks, you would take to him. Hunt and Sigma Gamma Rho Harry Mae Simon of the Smokey City community were two people who had made it through some of the red tape. “All of the women principals during that time and there were only four or five couldn’t get to be junior high principals because they were women,” said Jones who indicated Elementary School Principal ship was the highest women could go in administration during that period. “I really only worked at one school but the school split and became two schools.” Jones is referring to the fact that Hyde Park Jr. High became Cypress Jr. High. “I started out in the second grade and stayed there for 10-12 years,” said Jones speaking of her work at Hyde Park Elementary School. “Then the school split and I became a teacher at Cypress Jr. High School. I was in the classroom for a total of 43 years, but I was out of the classroom for seven years.” Jones served one year as President of the Memphis Education Association (MEA) and six years as President of the Tennessee Education Association (TEA). As such, she was the longest severing of any TEA president and two years at the regional West TN EA. “I was the Vice President of the TEA,” said Jones. “The President, who had won her second term in office, died the day before she was supposed to begin her second term. So I served her term out and then served my first term and got reelected for my second term. That’s how I was the longest serving of any TEA president.” PHOTO By Yvonne D. Nelson 14

Jones was also the longest serving National President of the LeMoyne-Owen College. “I had forgotten that,” said Jones. “I became the President because she died in office as the President of the LeMoyne Alumni Association and I served there the longest term – about eight years or something. That’s when some man told me that I could never be the Vice President up under him because if I did, they would probably die! It’s been a good life.” with Sen. Al Gore & Coretta Scott King 15

NEWSCENE ENTREPRENEURSHOP CORNER. . . (From left) Tabitha “Tudy” Jones (left standing) shares tips on how to lose weight through Keto dieting at a Keto Food Tasting event she held on January 4th. Pictured are Keto gumbo (top center) and Keto waffles and chicken (top right). Event attendees discovered Keto is more than just salad, cheese and meat. (Bottom right) Keto giblet gravy, Keto collard greens, Keto dressing, and Keto smoked turkey. Pictures By Tonya Love and Story By Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson Research has revealed that many epilepsy patients can find relief in the form of heightened, and in some cases, full control of B. their seizures by switching to a ketogenic diet. Developed in the 20s by Dr. Hugh Conklin, the diet began to be relied on less frequently as more effective medications to control seizures were developed. The ketogenic diet is not only useful for people with a variety of neurological disorders. The high-fat diet provides just the right amount of protein to sustain a normal person's body maintenance and growth and has very low amounts of carbohydrates. On January 4, 2020, Tabitha "Tudy" Jones hosted a Keto Food Tasting event for a group of friends and relatives. The event, featuring samples of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert entrees, was designed to show non-Keto participants that Keto is more than just salad, cheese, and meat. "The Keto way of life is restricted from some high carb food items, but Keto food can still be enjoyable," said Jones. "Keto is not only an accelerated weight loss program. It can also benefit those with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a number of other ailments. Although it is not a cure for all it is a step in the right direction." Some people liken the Keto diet to the Atkins diet plan which is a low-carbohydrate diet usually recommended for weight loss. Proponents of both plans claim that as long as you avoid eating foods high in carbohydrates, like sugar, soda, pastries, and white bread, you can still lose weight eating as much protein and fat as you want. "The sample products were prepared with a bit of soul to include chicken and Keto waffles, collard greens, Keto cornbread, smoked turkey, Keto dressing, spinach and cream cheese pork loin, and a few additional dishes," said Jones. "We use good fats like olive oil, real butter, cheese, eggs, and avocados. It is my mission to help people maintain their good health or to help them to journey to their particular destination in life." To learn more about the Keto diet through Jones, you can enroll in her "Keto Meal Pre-2-Week" trial program featuring five (5) meals each week for $130 bi-weekly. At the end of your trial period, you are responsible for deciding whether or not you want to continue. Those who chose to continue can do so at the regular bi-weekly rate of $150 for the five (5) meals. "This program requires time and commitment to be successful, but what else do you have to lose except weight?" said Jones. "We hope you’re ready... Happy Ketoing!" For more information, call or text (901) 634-7865. 16

3 Who was Augusta Savage? C. 4 1892-1962 Story and Pictures By Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson The Joe Orgill Family Fund for Exhibitions will present “Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman” at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens, 4339 Park Avenue, Memphis, TN 38117, through March 22, 2020. Savage was a black woman artist and sculptor who confronted issues specific to race, gender, and exclusion. Dr. Earnestine Jenkins, Professor of Art History at the University of Memphis Department of Art, presented a documentary and discussion on Savage from 2 to 3 pm on Sunday, January 26th. Jenkins posits, “Savage’s focus on the representation of Blacks and African American culture expanded creative possibilities for the segregated art world.” A brief discussion ensued after the lecture. Double click this LINK to hear part of the introduction and the entire onehour lecture. Malik ‘My King Jesus’ Johnson, Timon ‘Godz Warriah’ Clark, Terry ‘Troop Music’ Kilapatrick, and James Todd delivering the gospel to prisons. D. Click me! 17

Story By Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson Most everyone knows that Memphis is the city where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King took his last breath. Although NEWSCENE attempted to interview one of the last people at Dr. King’s side before his death, Jerry D. Williams, we are sad to report that his accounting of what happened the day Dr. King was assassinated will not be featured in this publication. Dr. Coby Vernon Smith was born July 17, 1946. A graduate of Manassas High School, Smith and another black youth integrated the all-white Presbyterian Southwestern (currently known as Rhodes) College in the mid-60s. “When we were accepted at Southwestern they needed Dr. Lorenzo Childress Jr. as a football player, I was just on the team,” said Smith, 73. I was only planning on being there for a year because I had received a principle appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis for 1965 and was not interested in staying at Southwestern. Times were turbulent for blacks during this, the civil rights movement, and Dr. Smith just wasn’t having it. He was an organizer of a chapter of the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC) and the Black Organizing Project (BOP) in Memphis and had been an active participant in the Memphis NAACP Chapter. At Southwestern, Smith joined an activist group called the Southern Student Organizing Committee, but was never really accepted as being equal. He would eventually disconnect from all of these organizations. In 1967, Smith and Charles Laverne “Cab” Cabbage co-founded the Invaders. “I feared the Memphis Police Department,” said Dr. Smith who was under constant surveillance by black FBI Photo Credit: Tyrone P. Easley informants including the famous photographer Ernest C. Withers and black members of the Memphis Police Department. “I have copies of original FBI files which reveal that I was being watched. On March 23, 1967, Mr. Withers advised the FBI that I had just returned to Memphis from New Orleans and that he was planning to ‘run into’ me or to ‘find some logical pretext’ to connect with me to learn of my future plans. He was not the only informant that the police and the FBI had watching me.” The FBI document went on to say Withers wrote that he would cover any demonstrations Smith participated in “under the pretext of being a Negro newsman and will take appropriate identification photographs of all possible participants and furnish same to this Bureau.” “I’ve been blessed to find out who many of their (FBI) informants were,” said Dr. Smith. “They had my neighbor down the street who was a lieutenant at the police department. They had a number of people. The former police director Walter Winfrey and Cliff Dates were two of them. Cliff will tell you his part. We grew up together – at least until 1960. That’s when he went to Douglass High School and I went to Manassas, but we are friends. We remained friends. Some of these people feel like once the white anoint them as informants that they are obligated to remain loyal to the FBI and to the police department.” As Dr. Smith is talking, he is interrupted as the phone rings. “They have it bugged and everything,” he said. “They want me to know that they know that I have company. You thought you were paranoid at times. It would be like everybody’s after you.” Smith did not always know that he was being watched, but his strategy once he discovered what was happening probably shocked quite a few agents and policemen. None of my activities were illegal, so my life was an open book. Photo Credit: Tyrone P. Easley 18 Continued on Page 22

Dr. Coby Vernon Smith (Above left) A 27 year-old Coby Vernon Smith is pictured at the Memphis Botanic Garden; (Above right) Dr. Coby V. Smith water skiing at McKellar Lake - Riverside Park in 1967; (Below) Dr. Coby V. Smith in Hempstead, NY in 1969. 19

(Top left) Dr. Coby V. Smith (center) Joyce Walker Bolton (left) and Grace Bell Cox at Smith’s home during Christmas in 1975. (Top right) Dr. Coby V. Smith at Audubon Park in 1970; (Below) Dr. Coby V. Smith at home in Memphis with friend Grace Bell Cox in 1975. 20

(Top left) Dr. Coby V. Smith (left) converses with the person he calls his role model, civil rights movement socialist organizer Stokely ‘Kwane Ture’ Carmichael. The two were having a meeting at the former Martin Luther King Cultural Arts Center on Lauderdale in Memphis, TN. (Top right) Dwight Smith (left), nephew of Dr. Coby V. Smith (right) take a picture with “Dr. J,” the famous Julius Winfield Erving, during a trip he made to Memphis at the height of his basketball career in 1974; (Below) Mrs. Mamie Till Mobley, mother of Emmitt Till (center at podium) at an event held in her honor in the Little Theater at LeMoyne Owen College. 21

“I was so naï ve,” said Dr. Smith speaking of a neighbor east of him, Herman Seaborn, the son of a church member and close friend turned out to be a FBI informant also. “I thought he was cheating on his wife so I went down the street to his apartment to save his marriage. I went in and saw more electronic equipment than I’d ever seen before. Herman had been taking pictures of me and so was a neighbor at the other end of my street. I recognized what the equipment was and told him, ‘look man, if they got you trying to follow me, it’s going to be hard even with two of you doing still watches on me. All I’ve got to do is sneak out the back, jump the fence, and go down the path, but look-a-here. I’m willing to cooperate with you to the point that if you give me a ride to where I’m going, I will let you know when I got to be there. So that worked out pretty good for us both!” Being watched by FBI informants and City of Memphis policemen began to just be a way of life for Dr. Smith. “If you are going to be a policeman, let’s recognized what your job is,” said Dr. Smith. “You are a member of an occupying army in our community. You are not there for our (the people’s) protection. You are there to protect them (the white’s) and their property from us. Ernest (Withers) was one of the first black policemen. He started out as a photographer covering murders and violent scenes. He was a police photographer and then he went to the academy and became a regular officer. “We had a conversation down at the studio when it was on Trigg and Mississippi. The Police Community Relations building was put there to spy on the Invaders. Another Manassas graduate, Ed Reddit was the guy in charge of the Police Community Relations operation. Ed was younger and had graduated from Lane College. He was college educated. None of the other black policemen had that much education, they were just some guys the white folks could trust and some guys who could fight – well, some of them couldn’t fight but they were dirty enough to be there to tell the white folks who to fight. Ed was the policeman that was generally assigned to accompany Dr. King when he was in town, but they removed him from the detail the day Dr. King was assassinated. In fact, Ed’s wife died that same day. Continued on Page 25 22

(Top left) Rev. James White (deceased), former pastor of St. Jude Missionary Baptist Church on Trigg Ave. in Memphis, TN, married Dr. Coby V. Smith and Constance Hunt Smith on December 30, 1989. Also pictured (far left) is Smith’s eldest brother, Emmett Eugene Smith Jr. (deceased). (Above) Dr. Coby V. Smith and his mother, Mrs. Lula Smith (deceased), at a banquet held at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. (Below, from left) Dr. Coby V. Smith entertained Dale and Johnnie Cochran at the grand opening of the Cochran Law Firm on the Main Street Mall in 2001. All pictures in this store are courtesy of Dr. Coby Vernon Smith’s personal files. 23


(Top left) Dr. Dr. Coby V. Smith was one of more than 850,000 men who attended the Million Man March in October 1995 in support of Louis Farrakhan. (Middle left) Organized by Minister Louis Farrakhan one of the largest gatherings of its kind, the Million Man March, took place on October 16, 1995. (Bottom left) Statistics show an estimated 850,000 African American men from across the United States together at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to promote unity and family values during the Million Man March held October 16, 1995. (Right) Dr. Coby V. Smith, and former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm at the former Evergreen Presbyterian Church. “The bullet wasn’t fired from inside that bathroom. He couldn’t have been leaning off the tub through that little spot in the window and made that shot. That shot came from behind the bushes at the firehouse. They cut the bushes down the next day and this is where (Rev. James) Orange, some Southern Leadership Christian Conference organizers, or somebody saw a puff of smoke come from. The guy (in the picture) who was pointing to where they say or want us to believe the shot came from was an undercover guy who had worked for the CIA and the Memphis Police Department. “Katie Sexton was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital after she collapsed while leading a picket. She is the other name that people seem to want to forget. The city named the community center in Klondike after her. Katie, Cornelia Crenshaw, and Alma Morris were the ladies who created the community support for the sanitation workers. Katie told her people not to take her in that hospital. She told then if you take me in there, I’ll never come out alive—and she didn’t. They killed her and Dr.. William Pepper, Esq., author of “The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.” thought that if they’d kill her, they’d kill Martin too. That he was suffocated by the lead physician over there, the head medical officer, but there was a negro in the room who was assigned to watch King’s body the whole time. “My daddy used to say ‘ you can’t make sugar out of shit,” said Dr. Smith. “So what we have is people basing their discoveries about how to receive power on their commitment to do dirt for white folks. How you come out of that, I don’t understand. Every day I listen to guys who changed their story about what they did. Every time I hear some of my movement brothers, I hear more of me. Every time I hear Suhkara, I hear what I did. He accused me of taking credit for what he did in Arkansas. He was in jail at the time of King’s assassination. That doesn’t discount the fact that once he saw the light and received the charge in his soul and the brother has been effective. Dr. Smith has received numerous achievements and awards including being honored as a Distinguished Alumni Award given by the Black Student Association of Rhodes College and the Memphis District Prince Hall Masons Black History Program Honoree both in 2018, and receiving The Memphis Heritage Trailblazer Award in recognition of advancing civil and human rights and carrying the torch to uphold African American history and culture from the City of Memphis and the W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Artivist Lifetime Achievement Award both in 2016. He has been quoted in several books including The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. by Dr. William F. Pepper, Esq. (former Attorney for the King Family); Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power and the Meredith March Against Fear by Aram Goudsouzian; and A Spy in Canaan: How the FBI used a famous photographer (Ernest C. Withers) to infiltrate the civil rights movement by Perrusquia and Going Down Jericho Road by Michael Honey. 25

CHURCH SPOTL IGHT GREATER NEW SHILOH MBC (Top at Pulpit) Greater New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Franklin Collins and Lady Christy Collins. (Standing from left) members Anniece Greer, Norma Nelson, Alberta Echoles, Rosie Brown, Mary Devould, Mae F. Martin, Leola Merritt, Nora Patterson, Shirley Williams (rear), Mary Mitchell Harris, Hazel Devould, Mary Snow, Mona Jones, and Shirley Cole. Front (seated) Bessie Clark. It is recorded in the books that in the year of our Lord 1888, a group of concerned Christians organized the New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church on Willow Road in southeast Shelby County, Tennessee. During the turbulent civil rights era of the 60s, the church was rebuilt and renamed Greater New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church (GNSMBC), the name it is known by today. In its’ 132 years of existence, Greater New Shiloh MBC has been led by 20 men of the cloth, including master delegator and pastor, Franklin (Christy) Collins, who provides guidance to the GNSMBC flock today. Pastor Collins succeeded Rev. Dr. Fred C. Lofton (1928-2017), taking over the GNSMBC pulpit in 20??. Dr. Lofton, a Morehouse D. College graduate, was well known locally and nationally. He was Pastor Emeritus of Metropolitan Baptist Church (19722001) in South Memphis. Dr. Lofton came out of retirement at the request of a friend to lead the GNSMBC flock in 2007. He was installed as the senior pastor the following year. Dr. Lofton, who spent nearly half of his life in the ministry, died at the age of 89 in 2017. Among his many accomplishments were being an author, spiritual scholar, and President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention. 26

Dr. Ida Payne Lofton, wife of GNSMBC’s former shepherd Dr. Fred C. Lofton, still attends GNSMBC although she visits Metropolitan, her home church, from time-to-time. “One of our biggest contributions to the GNSMBC ministry was a program we refer to as the Greater New Shiloh Achievement Academy,” said Payne Lofton. “I was involved with some various ministries like tutorial ministry – we provided tutorial assistance to students in the community and at the church who needed assistance with educational things. We had a program and we met every Saturday for about four hours. I set the goals for the academy and we helped a lot of children. Some of them were having problems with tests they had to pass at the end of the year. A lot of them were successful and were able to get their high school diploma.” GNSMBC sits in the heart of the Orange Mound community. Another way it gives back to those in the community is through a program called the Viree’s Vision Food Ministry. “This is an outreach program and I was one of the Pastor Franklin Collins taught the Word from Luke 5:1-5 during morning worship service at Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, 835 Maywood Street, on Sunday, January 26, 2020. persons who helped with the implementation and creation of this ministry,” said Payne Lofton speaking of the ministry that took the church members out into the community to feed the homeless. “It was one of my Sunday School students who came to me because he was so concerned about people he saw on the corner. He came to me and he asked what could we as a church do? It was not enough to say they could come to our church or go to a soup kitchen because Viree was aware that these people did not have transportation in many instances. He wanted a ministry where we would take our ministry to the streets around the city. We started off with sandwiches and brown bag lunches and we gradually increased it to hot meals. We frequently go to Morris Park near the missions on Poplar Avenue.” Payne Lofton was one of several GNSMBC members who helped turn 2018 White Station High School graduate and author Viree Potter’s vision into a reality. “We started this ministry when Viree was about nine years old,” said Payne Lofton. “Now he’s a sophomore in college at Bethel University in Jackson, TN. We still go and perform street ministry and people still come to the church 27

and when Viree comes home he still continues ministering in and with the food ministry.” Thanks to Orange Mound Historian Ms. Mary E. Mitchell, GNSMBC member Norma Nelson was instrumental in bringing NEWSCENE to Greater New Shiloh for our February Black Facts edition. Before we go any further with our story about GNS members, please allow us to pay tribute to those currently on the Greater New Shiloh sick list. Mary Branch, Beulah Cole, Emma Craig, Magnolia son… may our prayers and blessings bring warm thoughts of wellness from all of us to all of you as we send these sentiments of cheerfulness into your world to help you to feel better today and every day. Norma Nelson, wife of the late Samuel H. Nelson, has been a member of GNSMBC since 1961. The church was called Shiloh Baptist Church when she arrived at it. It was rebuilt and renamed New Shiloh, and later became Greater New Shiloh as it is known today. The mother of three sons and caregiver of 10 children, is a graduate of the Superintendent Clinic of the National Baptist Congress and currently serves as the General Superintendent of Sunday School. She has been a member of the GNS choir since age 11 and served as one of the choir directors. Cunningham, Dorothy Foreman, Loistene Malone, Mary-Ann Cloud McKinney, Ida White, Beatrice Wil“One of my most heartwarming memories is how the deacons would arrive at New Shiloh in the winter hours early to heat up the pot belly stove located in the center of the center of the old shot-gun house-church to warm up the church for service. Another was being baptized, along with children from other churches in the community, at the old Orange Mound swimming pool.” Norma’s sister Anniece Green, a 58-year GNS member, is the General Secretary of Sunday School, in the Matron Ministry, and the Sanctuary Choir. She leads the Sunday School Praise Dancers team and works on the church Decorating Committee. The Central High School and Kansas Vo-Tech Childhood Education graduate has one son and four grandchildren. “I was blessed to retire only having worked at Christian-based schools,” said Green. “I sought them out to work at.” Shirley Williams’ family relocated from Binghampton to Orange Mound when she was in the 8th grade. Williams father purchased a home and grew up on Spottswood. She attended Messick, a first through 12th grade county school at the time. After graduating from Messick High School, Williams attended the former Memphis State and Shelby State Community Colleges. She took classes in therapeutic recreation from Memphis State and graduated with a Physical Therapist Assistant degree from Shelby State College. She has been a member of GNSMBC for approximately 24 years where her husband, Charles Williams, is also a member, currently lives in the Fox Meadows subdivision, has two sons, and works at St. Francis Hospital on Park Avenue in East Memphis. 28

Greater New Shiloh has been the church home of Rosie Brown since the 1980s when she was invited by her relatives who were already attending church there. “I was baptized at GNS,” said Brown who has lived in walking distance from the church for the past 2-3 years. “I love attending GNS and I love the people who attend there.” Mary Elizabeth Mitchell Harris has been a member of Greater New Shiloh all her life. She remembers being baptized around the age of 12 by Rev. G. T. Thomas. Harris grew up on Fizer near Getwell. Her father, former GNS Deacon Joseph Mitchell Sr. and another man hauled the lumber used to construct the old church to its current location using a horse and wagon. “My father drew a picture of what the church looked like before it was rebuilt in 1921-1922” said Harris. “I know they brought the lumber up and they had to make a church out of it. I remember it being small, it wasn’t a big church and they had a heater in there.” gospel chorus at GNS. She recited the Accompanied by her niece, her sister daughter Mona Brooks Jones, the two gone by. “I’ve been at GNS all my life,” said GNS. My mother was the oldest the church was moved. My members. My grandmother was on the Mitchell was a deacon. You had no Harris was a member of the Gospel Chorus and the Golden Girls singing group that consisted several of the older ladies from the story of her family and GNS. Melissa Mitchell Brooks Brown’s shared their memories from days Brown. “All of the children belonged to daughter. She was born in 1921 when grandparents were active church motherboard and my granddad, Pa choice, you went to church. We all went to church. ” “I remember one time I asked to go to the movies because the little girls my age were going to the movies,” said Harris. “Momma said, ’Young lady, if you don’t go to church, you aren’t going nowhere!” Other than adding a new wing, a few other things have changed over the years at GNS. “I get tickled now because they have Thanksgiving and Christmas services at 10 o’clock,” said Jones. “When we were growing up it was always at 6 am. You didn’t look at your toys or nothing else because you had to get ready to go to church and we walked.” According to Jones, it wasn’t a long walk. The family, at that time, lived near the intersection of Park Avenue and Laurel Street. “We had to walk up Park and make that left on Maywood,” said Jones. “Rain, snow, sleet, or shine,” added Harris “and most of the time, it was snow!” Jones added, “It would be dark, sometimes pitch black dark, but the beautiful snow brightened things up so you could see the way to the church! Alberta Echols has been a member of GNS for the past 40+ years. She remembers church leaders Pastor Joe ‘Gospel Joe’ Williams (1960-1996), Pastor Rev. Arthur Snow (1996-2007), Rev. Dr. Fred C. Lofton (2007-2017), and the current Shepherd, Pastor Franklin Collins. “I live just a couple of streets down from the church now,” said Echols who served in the gospel chorus and choir and has resided in the Orange Mound community for about the same length of time she’s been a faithful member of GNS. “We had a club called the Rose of Sharon which was a food ministry of sorts where I worked in the kitchen under Bro. Willie James McNeil. I made breakfast foods like Jack Mackerel and homemade biscuits. He was such a beautiful person who contributed so much to the church.” 29

Ms. Bessie Clark has been a member of GNS for the past 47 years. She has participated in the Missionary Society, the Sunday morning and Wednesday noon Bible Study (BTU) classes. A graduate of Hernando Central High School, Ms. Clark migrated from Olive Branch to North Memphis around 1962-63. The mother of two sons, one of whom, Navy Veteran Lavern Stewart, who attends GNS. Her son Bernard lives in Jackson, TN. “I was raised in church all my life,” said Clark. “I love GNS, it’s just lovely to me.” Melrose High School and Memphis State graduate Ora Lee Marble (not pictured) has been a member of GNS for 60+ years. She received her Masters degree from the University of Tennessee in Memphis as a participant of the last class in Social Work. Marble, who held numerous positons within the church, retired and then went to work for the Smart and Secure Initiative. “Growing up in Orange Mound we were surrounded by people who cared,” said Marble who has seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. “These people, especially my grandfather, took care of us. We knew if we got that look from somebody, it meant sit down and be quiet. As I grew, I promoted education and especially starting with my own four daughters. My prayer was that the Lord let me stay here long enough for them to graduate college. He did that and more!” Carver High School (1981) and (1988) University of Memphis Education graduate and Shelby County Schools teacher Donna Walker, grew up in South Memphis and Orange Mound,. Walker joined GNS in the 90s. Walker received a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix in 2006. The wife and mother of two is the youngest mother on the Deaconess Board and Directress of Christian Education. She is the proud recipient of two Lifetime Wellness Teacher of the Year awardee (2016-17 & 2019-20) for Shelby County Schools for high school teachers. Both mother and daughter are Eastern Stars. The family of Mary Devould became members of GNS around 1966. Mary’s daughter Hazel Devould was the only one of Mary’s six daughters to graduate from Melrose High School because Memphis schools began busing students from their local schools to schools in other areas in the 70’s. “Hazel was the only one who graduated from Melrose,” said Mary’s daughter Shirley Cole. “The rest of us were bused to Wooddale High School and that’s where we graduated from. “My mom was determined to get us all in church when we moved to Memphis,” said Hazel. “We didn’t have a family car so mother would get a cab and other times we walked. She made sure we got involved in Sunday School and the choirs and the usher boards in order to keep us interested and busy growing up in GNS and that was the greatest blessing for all of us that has lasted into our adulthood growing up in that church being mentored and taught in that church.” 30

DID YOU KNOW? There are several moneyless ways you can support nonprofits like DI’MANS, Inc. dba NEWSCENE and the McCorkle Road Neighborhood Development Association, Inc. of Memphis (serving all of ZIP Code 38116). When you shop at Kroger you can, AT NO COST TO YOU, support DI’MANS, Inc. by enrolling in the Community Rewards Program and earning rewards for DI’MANS every time you shop! Visit Kroger.com/ communityrewards and support Organization #DN098. Smile.Amazon.com is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, again, AT NO COST TO YOU, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to DI’MANS Inc., the charitable organization of choice. Email us at NEWSCENESHELBYCO@gmail.com for details today! Questionable things in Memphis?!! VIEW FROM RIVERSIDE DRIVE... 31

CFC #46643 AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. Location: Memphis, TN | Year Founded: 2009 DI’MANS, Inc. (Click here) to shop at SMILE.AMAZON.COM Mission: DI'MANS, Inc. was formed to establish a positive, proactive force in the fight against juvenile crime and juvenile delinquency. The goal of DI'MANS, Inc. is to bring adults dedicated to positively shaping future generations together to assist disadvantaged youth in becoming productive citizens as adults. Help Support Causes in Your Community! (Click here to sign up) Did you know you can support nonprofit organizations in your community just by shopping at Kroger? It's easy when you enroll in Kroger Community Rewards®! To get started, sign up with your Plus Card below, and select a local organization you wish to support. Once you're enrolled, you'll earn rewards for your chosen organization every time you shop and use your Plus Card! Enroll now for the Kroger Community Rewards Program. And remember….all participants must re-enroll each year to continue earning rewards for their chosen organization. DIRECTIONS: 1) Go to Kroger.com; 2) Create an account or sign in; 3) Drop down the arrow at your name 4) Select “My Account” 5) Click on Community Rewards on the left side of the screen) Make a One-Time donation to DI’MANS, Inc. 32 Make a Recurring Donation (Click here)

Alternative & Holistic Health Services ORDER HERE (901) 789-4844 Congratulations! Continued Success, Wishing You Well! 33 CLICK HERE TO VISIT US ONLINE



SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSCENE, the NEW SCENE where NEWS is SCENE, for $42.00 bi-annually or just $7 per Month! Single and multiple copies are also available for purchase. Thank you for subscribing to NEWSCENE, our online newsmagazine publication. We are the NEW SCENE where NEWS is SEEN! We hope you enjoyed the stories about and the pictures taken at events we visited last month. We are looking forward to sharing more pictures and stories with you next month about the many events taking place this month. As you know, we can’t be at more than one event at a time, but we are here to assist you to get your events online, in our calendar, and in print. Don’t forget you can click on the links that are included to visit websites, blogs, Facebook pages and more! We want to be the first place you look to learn about the things happening in your community, but we won’t know about what’s happening unless you tell us. Write to us at NewsceneShelbyCo@gmail.com or call (901) 300-0390 to leave us a message. We promise to return your call in a timely fashion. Visit us online today and everyday @ iLoveShelbyCounty.com NEWSCENE . . . ...is currently seeking ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS and passionate and outgoing volunteer photojournalists who can write stories and take pictures at local events. Interested persons should phone (901) 300-0250 for details. 36

1 Publizr


  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24
  25. 25
  26. 26
  27. 27
  28. 28
  29. 29
  30. 30
  31. 31
  32. 32
  33. 33
  34. 34
  35. 35
  36. 36

You need flash player to view this online publication