Why closing the racial divide is crucial for Memphis’ success

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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.


  • Jack Shepherd

    Clarance Saunders started Piggly Wiggly not Clarance Thomas. He was a Supreme Court Justice. Your history knowledge clouds the entire program.

  • melanie

    It’s the media that fans the flames of racism. Stop what you do for ratings and maybe things will work out.

  • James Earl

    Yes the media is to blame for all the years of injustice against the white man in this community since the 60’s after MLK was merked. Why is it the blacks try to take over every city the adulterer MLK visited to start all harmony we have had since his departure.

  • Patrick Boram

    It will never happen. People like James Earl and there are Black people just like James Earl that won’t let it happen. I am born and raise in South Memphis, an African American. I did not know how racist I was until I moved to Denver. It took a fifteen year stay in Denver and come back to Memphis to show me that I am past Memphis and its horrible racial element from Whites and Blacks. I love my hometown, but what it has become is silly. We are all people first, race should not be a factor. The only color that should matter is Green.

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