Memphis – MLK50
The Truth Booth has arrived at Memphis, Tennessee on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death, part of the MLK50 events.
We installed in front of what used to be the Jefferson Davis monument. It is important to note that in December 2017 the Jefferson Davis monument was removed, Davis was president of the Confederate States and a strong supporter of slavery. Elsewhere in Memphis the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest was also removed. For that to happen the removal process took time due to the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2016, in which public statues were not to be removed. The solution was for the City Council to sell Memphis Park and the Health Sciences Park, where each of the monuments were located, to a nonprofit organization. It’s a big step for the city of Memphis, demonstrating its continued commitment to protecting civil rights today, something which the monuments clearly did not stand for.
After that stop, the Truth Booth was set five miles from downtown Memphis, in the community of Orange Mound, which was the largest black community more than twenty years ago in the United States. The community originated in the late 19th century with the purchase of land by a white man named Elzey E. Meacham, who made developments for African Americans. The area is known for having a sense of community, but also for its successes in sports. Religion has had an important role in social movements within and outside the community due to the strong presence of the churches, and recently in political movements. No wonder why it is important for pastors to be part of the MLK50 events, as Martin Luther King was himself a pastor.
Obtaining the truth from Memphis’ citizens it is an interesting experience after the monuments removal, and generally about the civil rights movement and equality. It should be noted that, and worth highlighting, despite the efforts of the civil rights movement in the 50’s and 60’s, poverty – especially in the Black community – is on the rise. 44% of children in Memphis are currently below the poverty line for example.
A huge thanks goes out to the Downtown Memphis Commission and the Urban Arts Commission for the hospitality and for making this chapter of the Truth happen for MLK50.