MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It seems everyone in the Mid-South is talking about race after the recent dispute between Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks and a motorist over a parking space at Methodist Hospital, where Brooks works.
While racial tensions exist in most cities, Memphis seems to stand out raising questions about who’s leading the way to do something about it. WREG found out what some people are doing to get past skin color.
“The fact that the witnesses said she got out and the first thing she said went to race, ‘you think you’re white so you can get the spot,’ that’s a mentality in this community that has been exacerbated and it’s a shameful thing because this community is so racially diverse,” said WREG commentator Otis Sanford.
Memphis is a city of many races and cultures, but lately with Commissioner Henri Brooks its come down to race. What happened in cellphone video shot by witnesses has landed her an assault charge in this dispute over a parking space.
Getting beyond the differences that divide us is part of what the Memphis Urban League Young Professionals is doing. They’re about developing a professional and social network with all races..they say that’s the future.
“I’ve been gone for like 12 years. I don’t know the old saying. I know what’s new and what’s going on right now,” said T.J. Jefferson.
When it comes to Brooks what’s going on right now are two recent incidents involving race. One was when she told a Latino man who was before the County Commission they didn’t have it as tough as African Americans. That same day, Brooks also told a fellow white commissioner he had a white sheet. He took that to mean she was associating him with the KKK.
WREG talked to voters who supported Brooks before. Some of them say her recent actions won’t vote let them vote for her again in the juvenile court clerks race in August.
“I allow anybody a second chance but they keep on slipping up. I don’t support them,’ said Willie Chambers, a former Brooks’ supporter.
Some say Brooks’ way of handling situations is harmful and doesn’t speak well for our political leaders.
“I think the young professionals we have an openness to diversity. That’s what we see,” said Jefferson.
The public will see if it costs Brooks in August’s election.
Voter Austin Davidson said, “Maybe its true, maybe it’s not but over these last few weeks it’s one thing after another. Something is coming out and it’s like you have your own agenda and it makes it hard for the public to support that.”
Brooks’ attorney, Andre Wharton, said he’d like people to look at this case as an isolated situation and says the video the witness shot on her cell phone doesn’t tell the complete story of what happened. He says the judge will hear that.
Brooks is back in court July 29th.