MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Lucille Catron said she’s a guardian of the past, especially the last 40 years of Beale Street.
“These men accumulated, solicited and received a grand total of $23 million. 23! These were African American men,” she said of the people who redeveloped Beale in the 1970s.
The director of the Beale Street Development Corporation has also sparred with city officials over control over the tourist attraction, including threatening to sue Memphis with her late husband Randle.
She lamented recent changes.
“With what’s going on on Beale, there's no African American inclusion,” she said.
Since 2014, the Downtown Memphis Commission has been the interim manager of Beale.
President and CEO Terence Patterson acknowledged his group needed to work with the community more, but still pushed for the Commission to become the permanent manager.
“A lot of that criticism and feedback was important. It’s important we understand the heritage and where Beale Street was and also mindful about the relevance of Beale Street in the future," he said. "It is a prized asset and crown jewel of this community. We want to make sure we're doing everything we can to be good stewards of that work."
He said they wanted to focus on a plan to improve Beale Street.
The plan would focus on three things: pedestrian experience, the future of the street and reinvesting proceeds into improvement of the street.
"We want to invest $200,000 to think about new market approach and have a capital improvement plan," Patterson said.
But council hasn’t made a decision.
Catron hoped she could push members to vote against the Downtown Memphis Commission.
“We want to hire someone we feel like can move Beale forward. Not just for a few people but for all people on Beale,” she said.