Differences Aside, New ‘Men’s Forum’ Ready To Tackle Solutions
By Tri-State Defender Newsroom | Published 12/30/2009
A diverse group of African-American men are collaborating to create and execute a plan of grass roots solutions to socio-economic challenges facing many in the Memphis and Greater Mid-South communities.
On Saturday, Jan. 9 from 2 - 4 p.m., the Mid-South Men’s Forum will be held at the Benjamin Hooks Job Corp Center located at 1555 McAllister Drive off of (south) Millbranch in the Whitehaven area.
Following several small group sessions to establish an initial plan of action, the Forum is being held to engage men throughout the Greater Memphis area. Organizers say the initial responses have them anticipating the participation of men from varied backgrounds and experiences.
At this initial Forum, the goal is to establish or enhance existing “sensible and effective” short and longterm solutions to challenges ranging from economic disparity, educational deficiencies, crime and safe communities.
“It is our intention to bring together men that are sincere about improving their communities, not to rehash the problems, but to focus on solutions and plans that allow us to rebuild and improve the communities in which we live,” said Anthony Muhammad of the United School of Survival.
The group hosting the event include Van Turner, chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party, Bernal E Smith II, president of the Greater Memphis Chapter of the 100 Black Men of America, Veniras Scott, president of Mid-South Interfaith, Drumma Boy, CEO of Drum Squad Productions and national recording artist, Reginald French, former City of Memphis executive and Democratic nominee for Shelby County Sheriff, and Muhammad, Grand Master of the United School of Survival.
Bernal Smith II, president of the 100 Black Men of Memphis, Inc, said, “We have put aside differences in ideologies and approaches in order to focus on the common interests we share of improving the quality of life in our communities.”
“We are optimistic that we can engage a larger group of men (at the Forum) with that same common focus to plan and execute strategies that bolster existing efforts while supporting the work of government in educating (youth), policing (crime reduction), and stimulating economic growth in the community,” he said.
The initial plan includes three primary aspects at this point. The first is the creation of a Loan Pool/Angel Investment Fund for minority business owners through the establishment of a cooperative savings club. The plan also calls for community canvassing and an increased presence of well-intentioned African-American men in the most challenged neighborhoods. The plan calls for the adoption of one or two of the most severely challenged and under performing schools in the Memphis City School system to provide mentoring, support and presence.
“We want to focus on those things that are tangible, measurable and immediately addressable without a lot of ‘red tape,” said Turner.