Why closing the racial divide is crucial for Memphis’ success

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis is a city on a mission for greatness.

It’s a city on the edge, a city divided. But it’s ours, and this is our chance for a better tomorrow.

It’s time to heal old wounds, and create new stories of success, by educating our children and by making sure there are enough jobs and everyone feels safe in their own home.

In this chapter of Memphis: On a Mission, WREG’s Markova Reed reports on an important issue facing our city, one which nobody ever really wants to talk about.

The history of race relations in Memphis, like in many Southern cities, is complicated. Blacks and whites have long struggled to share power in the Bluff City, and find common ground on what is progress.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, soul music and the civil rights movement set the tone in the city. The sanitation worker’s strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., changed Memphis forever.

The past haunts Memphis in many ways. Where there is reluctance to talk black and white, some say green is a major issue. Minorities argue poverty, lack of job opportunities and educational disparity are as bad as ever.

Take the Whitehaven and Oakhaven communities that surround the airport and Fedex. Both are predominately black, and have high rates of poverty and unemployment.

Meanwhile, local NAACP president Pastor Keith Norman says the older generations use race in politics to hold on to power.

“Race can cloud the water, and people in Memphis over the years have learned how to use race effectively,” he said.

The notion politics and power are central to the racial divide is easy to understand, but what if resolving the issues was as simple as people being compassionate? Not seeing skin color, but seeing people? That’s something each of us must decide for ourselves.

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