|U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton lll|
Friday, October 31, 2014
FedEx attorney Edward L. Stanton III has to pinch himself sometimes to make sure that his nomination by President Barack Obama on April 14, 2010, to be the next chief federal law enforcement officer for West Tennessee’s 22 counties is still real and not a dream.
“It was an unbelievable honor. It’s something I will always cherish and try to uphold…and I will honor this appointment in the appropriate way,” said Stanton, who was confirmed by unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate on Aug. 5 of that year as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.
Tennessee’s 9th District Congressman Steve Cohen and 8th District Congressman John Tanner, two senior members of the U.S. House of Representatives from the President’s party, recommended Stanton for the position.
Memphis attorney Veronica Coleman-Davis was the last Democratic nominee and the first African-American to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. She received the nod from President Bill Clinton.
Sworn into office on Aug. 16, Stanton is one of three U.S. Attorneys in Tennessee and 93 across the country. Atty. Gen. Eric L. Holder Jr. was in attendance for Stanton’s ceremonial investiture later on in December.
Stanton oversees a staff of nearly 100 people working out of two offices. The main office is located on the 8th floor of the Clifford Davis-Odell Horton Federal Building in Memphis and the Jackson Branch Office is in Jackson, Tenn.
The staff includes 40 prosecutors, legal assistances, paralegals, support staff, and an administrative division that deals with everything from H.R. to budget, IT to investigations, and contracting. Over the past year, more than 20 million dollars in restitution, fines, and fees in civil and criminal matters were collected.
U.S. Attorneys are responsible for the following: 1) the prosecution of criminal cases brought by the Federal Government; 2) the prosecution and defense of civil cases in which the United States is a party; and 3) the collection of debts owed to the Federal Government, which are administratively uncollectible.
The Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office handled nearly 400 matters over the past year, including indictments and information filed; and the Civil Division handled over 3,500 cases over the same period. He established a Civil Rights Unit in 2011.
“What makes the news all the time are high criminal profile cases,” said Stanton, 42.
Three well-known cases come to mind prior to Stanton’s administration – Tennessee Waltz, which led to the arrest of seven Tennessee lawmakers and two others in 2005; Tarnished Blue, the roundup of “corrupted” Memphis police officers over a number of years; and Main Street Sweeper, where three high-profile Memphians were nabbed in 2007.
The aforementioned sting operations are indicative of the type of criminal cases that land squarely on the U.S. Attorney’s desk, and the type of cases where taskforces of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are deployed.
Indictments and arrests are often reported in the media, such as drug distribution conspiracies, sex trafficking, money laundering conspiracies, illegal prescription drug distribution rings, mail fraud, child pornography, and other crimes.
The apprehension and sentencing of Craig Petties and his drug trafficking organization for packaging and distributing cocaine in Mexico, Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and elsewhere, is perhaps Stanton’s crowning achievement to date as a U.S. Attorney.
He said the wife of Mickey Wright Sr., who worked for the Shelby County Office of Construction Code Enforcement before he disappeared in 2001, sent him a card thanking his office for securing a life-sentence without parole in 2011 for Dale V. Mardis, who admitted killing Wright and dismembering and burning his remains in Mississippi.
“I told her that justice delayed is not justice denied,” said Stanton, a driven crime fighter focusing on ensuring the safety of the district’s 1.5 million citizens. “I give it 110 percent. The staff steps in and gives the same.”
‘We’re very vigilant…’
There is an uptick in criminal activity in the district, notably prescription drug abuse, which often leads to heroin use and trafficking, Stanton said. “Quite frankly, we’ve seen a record number of heroin overdoses here, particularly of young teenagers and young adults.”
Another area is sex trafficking, he pointed out.
Crime reduction initiatives have been relatively successful in Shelby County primarily due to taskforces like Project Safe Neighborhoods, Project Safe Childhood and Safe Streets Task Force, Stanton said. Partners include local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
The Multiagency Gang Unit is another taskforce being deployed. Its mission is to eradicate gang activity, Stanton said. It is comprised of the Memphis Police Department, the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the FBI.
“Our goal is to dismantle gang organizations, beginning at the top. We’re very vigilant,” the U.S. Attorney said matter-of-factly.
While fighting crime is Stanton’s No. 1 goal, “what is equally important is to get out into the schools, neighborhood and communities,” he said. “There’s not a call that doesn’t get returned. There’s not a request that doesn’t get answered for someone to come out. The children need to see that.”
Stanton is a role model trying to steer youth in a positive direction. Supporters like his guidance counselor in school helped to nurture his aspirations – just like he’s trying to do for students at the schools he visits.
“I thought I wanted to be a pilot. That kind of went to the wayside,” said Stanton, whose foray into public service began in 5th grade when he ran for student council president at Idlewild Elementary. “That was my first loss. I thought I was going to make a difference for the 5th graders.”
He’s made a difference since graduating from Central High School, the University of Memphis in 1994, and U of M’s Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in 1997. He began his legal career at the law offices of Charles Carpenter. From there, he went to the assistant city attorney’s office, the law firm Armstrong Allen, and finally to the legal department of FedEx before his appointment as U.S. Attorney.
Setting an example…
Stanton comes from a family of public servants. His father, Edward L. Stanton Jr., is the current General Sessions Court Clerk; and his mother, Ruth Johnson Stanton, is retired from Memphis City Schools.
He grew up with two sisters in Whitehaven. Arnetta Stanton Macklin is vice president of seniors at MIFA and Tameaka Stanton-Riley, his younger sister, is the administrative director for the Shelby County Property Assessor.
“It’s a part of my DNA,” said Stanton, also noting that his maternal grandfather, a trailblazer in his own right, was one of the first African-American letter carriers in the North Memphis area. The examples set by the Stanton men, he added, helped to solidify his role as a husband and father.
“I didn’t have to look anywhere else,” said Stanton, who is married to Mae Smith Stanton and has two children, a seven-year-old and a 10-year old. “I saw the example of being a father, husband, a provider. I saw men who stood up on principle as opposed to what was popular…and really instilling into me what character is, integrity, and how important your name is.”
Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he said, “‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others.’ That drive’s me. Not how much money you’ve made, how many people know your name, how many titles you have, but what are you doing for others.”
Clara Currin and Janelle Williams are among the 2.8 million-plus breast cancer survivors that the American Cancer Society (ACS) counts in the United States. Locally, they are two living testaments to the effectiveness of CATS (Community Action Team of Shelby County), an outreach program of the ACS.
“We’re trying to reduce the mortality rate of breast and cervical cancer. It’s (CATS) making a difference in our community,” said Dorothy Hall, a retired nurse from U.T. Bowld Hospital and a community health advisor (CHA).
CATS is a coalition of community organizations and individuals trying to eliminate the high incidence and deaths of African-American women in Shelby County due to breast and cervical cancer. That mission is tasked to CHAs – lay volunteers trained to educate women on breast and cervical cancer awareness and access to screening, treatment and care. They advise, advocate, mentor, assist and refer women to appropriate resources.
“We’re trying to save women by encouraging them to get mammograms earlier,” said Currin, a CHA who shared her story and pitched preventive care to nearly 200 women attending Golden Gate Cathedral’s Annual Breast Cancer Survivor Brunch on Oct. 18th. Sixty-four of the women are cancer survivors.
The church’s health ministry launched the brunch six years ago in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The purpose: to pay homage to women struggling with the disease. “We wanted to give back to the community and do something for the survivors in church,” said Anita Holloway, the health ministry coordinator.
The brunch has become an educational tool to equip cancer survivors, and those currently receiving treatment, with the necessary resources that would help them survive the oft-times deadly disease, Holloway added.
Of the 232, 670 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 62,570 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer, about 40,000 women will die. This year’s estimate for new breast cancer cases in Tennessee is 4,840; and 910 will die.
The statistics are alarming and symptomatic of the serious threat to women, particularly African-American women, who are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, but more likely to die from it. In fact, about 1 in 8 (12 percent) women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime.
Surviving breast cancer has been a struggle for Currin and Williams. However, they’re not easily deterred by the dismal statistics. Why? “God is good!” Williams declared.
Clara Currin: ‘You don’t want to stay in bed and give up’
“It’s been a journey, but God has been so good,” said Clara Currin, recalling the exact date of her breast cancer diagnosis – June 10, 2005. It was the same day her mother, who died from uterine cancer, celebrated her birthday.
Describing her experience as an arduous journey, Currin, a former college athlete, is determined to stay alive, even after the cancer metastasized to other parts of her body. Since her initial diagnosis, she has battled bone marrow cancer, cancer of the ovaries, and now cancer of the chest wall and liver.
|Clara Currin encourages women at Golden Gate Cathedral's|
Annual Breast Cancer Survivor Brunch on Oct. 18th to get their
mammogram and Pap smear screenings done. (Photos: Wiley Henry
“I’m a four-time cancer survivor,” said Currin, whose latest cancer diagnosis came in July after returning from a trip to Hawaii. “That’s when I found out the cancer had moved to my chest wall and liver.”
Currin is undergoing chemotherapy once again – eight treatments so far. “I have 60 percent reduction of cancer cells in my chest wall and 25 percent reduction of cancer cells in my liver,” she said. “That’s how you know chemo is working.”
Having run track at U.T. Knoxville following her graduation from Booker T. Washington in 1969, Currin said the doctors explained that her survival is a result of how well she’s taken care of her body. “As a former athlete, I try to eat right and exercise.”
Hair loss and the emotional challenges that come after a cancer diagnosis often exacerbate the problem. “The wigs are the least of my problems,” she said. “(But) the side-effects of chemo and medicines is worst than cancer sometimes.”
Currin is being treated at The West Clinic and has to have an injection every 28 days to keep her bones strong. The cost: $5,000 an injection. “Once before I was getting two shots a month for $11,000,” she said.
Currin taught English for 30-plus years – 12 at Frayser High School; 23 at Northside High School. She coached girls track at both schools and also worked with student athletes during the summer months at the Shelby Metro Sports and Awareness Basketball Clinic.
“You don’t want to stay in bed and give up,” said Currin, a divorcee who has a son and 6-year-old granddaughter.
“I hope her generation will be free of cancer,” she said.
Janelle Williams: ‘A lot of people don’t make it’
The mass in Janelle Williams’ breast was enough to send her into an emotional tailspin, but then it ratcheted from fear to anger to depression after the mass was diagnosed as malignant.
“I was mad at first with my doctors, because they told me it was a cyst and that I didn’t have anything to worry about,” she said.
|Janelle Williams was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2010.|
Williams was diagnosed October 2010 and left the doctors’ office with the realization that the mass had to be removed. That same year she’d contemplated having a reduction mammoplasty (breast reduction surgery). “So I decided to have the reduction and mass removed at the same time,” she said.
That year in December, right before Christmas, Williams began treatment at The West Clinic. “What a Christmas present,” she said.
The treatment plan included eight rounds of chemotherapy, a mastectomy, 33 rounds of radiation, and then six more rounds of chemotherapy. She has been cancer-free for nearly four years now and doesn’t have to see a doctor, she said, until May 2015.
“A lot of people don’t make it,” said Williams, who thought at the outset of her diagnosis that she wouldn’t be alive to see her nephews and nieces grow up. “I thought I would be missing out on family and holidays. That’s what came to my mind.”
Williams is fortunate to be able to pay the hospital bill with her personal insurance, which a number of African-American women haven’t been able to afford according to CATS, which intercedes on their behalf.
Following her treatment in 2012, Williams opted to retire from the Internal Revenue Service after 36 years.
“I didn’t want to work all the way until God calls me home,” she said.
Michelle R. Shelton: Her ‘CATS’ story
The pastor at Golden Gate Cathedral, Bishop Edward Stephens Jr., had sermonized on occasion about the woman in the Bible who suffered 12 years with the issue of blood before Jesus Christ healed her.
Michelle R. Shelton also had an issue of blood – before the doctors healed her.
“I had been having bad cycles, fibroid tumors, for about seven years. Nobody knew I was hurting. I was losing a lot of blood and could barely stand up. I lost over 25 pounds. I was hemorrhaging and sick,” said Shelton.
|The doctors healed Michelle Shelton of her seven-year malady.|
The problem was compounded by Shelton’s high blood pressure, which doctors had not been able to regulate for 15 years. “I was on 13 different medications,” said Shelton, who didn’t have insurance to pay for any sustained treatment, including the malady that was causing her to wrench in pain.
She’d self-paid for a mammogram and Pap smear screening before, but “considering what surgery cost, I couldn’t afford it.” But that would change when Dorothy Hall, a member of the church, asked her about getting a mammogram and Pap smear screening for free through the CATS (Community Action Team of Shelby County) program.
After a series of tests, the doctors discovered that Shelton had an enlarged uterus and a tumor on her adrenaline gland. “The gland was causing my blood pressure to be extremely high and my potassium to be low,” she said.
Shelton had a hysterectomy in March 2012, then a second surgery to have the tumor on her adrenaline gland removed. “I feel great now. My blood pressure is normal. I gained my weight back. And now I got more energy,” she said.
“If it had not been for the program (CATS), I would still be sick,” said Shelton, the mother of one child and the grandmother of four.
“I don’t think I would have made it,” she said.
(For more information about the Community Action Team of Shelby County and its community health advisors, contact Bert Fayne at (901) 725-8629. African-American women, whom the program serves, may be eligible for free mammogram and Pap test screenings.)
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Stevenson Clark loves a challenge. He took the reigns of a fledgling Christian radio station in Southaven, Miss., retooled it to compete in the marketplace, and increased the ratings significantly after three months.
“I proved that I could do what I’d never done before,” said Clark, the general manager and program director at AM 1240 WAVN Radio. “People didn’t believe that I could to it.”
Clark was a neophyte in radio to some degree, but it didn’t take him long to adjust and learn everything that he needed to know about the business – including sales, administration and management. He even cut his teeth as an on-air personality from 3 p.m.-7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
|Stevenson Clark at AM 1240 WAVN Radio.|
“I had no idea that I would be where I am today,” said Clark, 47, who first started with a 30-minute, three-day show on WAVN until Dr. George S. Flinn Jr., the sta- tion’s owner, offered him the management position in 2009. He has been at WAVN for 8 years now, 5 1⁄2 in his current position.
“I wear several hats,” Clark said, including those of a prolific songwriter, arranger and singer.
Clark started singing when he was 2 years old and dropped his first CD in the marketplace when he was 5. “I still have a copy of the two songs,” he said, “‘I Believe There’s a Heaven Somewhere’ and ‘God is Able.’”
In 8th, the spritely youngster started playing the piano. Also during that time, he directed and taught adults vocal lessons. He is the oldest of the Rev. Denville and Verdie Clark’s six children, who blended their voices as “The Clark Family.”
Clark attended Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Miss., his hometown. He sang with the Hamilton High School Choir and, after graduating, received a scholarship to attend Ittawamba Junior College in Fulton, Miss.
Clark didn’t finish Itawamba. He had other plans, opting to sing instead with the renowned Grammy Award-winning Mississippi Mass Choir, one of the most successful traditional gospel choirs in the music industry.
“I sang my way through high school and college,” said Clark, who toured with the choir for five years. In 1993, he headed to Memphis and took jobs at Methodist Hospi- tal as a lab technician and at the Marriott Hotel as a server.
“After I arrived in Memphis, I furthered my singing in churches. It’s my life and I decided I’d pursue it more,” said Clark, serving then as the minister of music for Mt. Ararat Baptist Church and the musical director for Pilgrim Baptist Church.
Clark eventually recorded his first cd in Memphis entitled “All the Praise.” A promoter in Italy heard the CD, and the group, Stevenson Clark and Friends, would cut a swath across Italy from 1996 to 2009 spreading the gospel through their music.
During his travels abroad, Clark was ascribed the moniker “The Little Prince of Gospel Music.” His second cd project, entitled “My God is Truly Blessing Me,” was recorded at Brown Missionary Baptist Church in 2000.
Clark has sung with gospel artists such as the late Frank Williams, Leann Fayne, Vickie Winans, Evelyn Turrentin-Agee, Lee Williams, and most recently on the CD of one of Memphis’s most reknown quartets, “The Mighty Kings of Harmony,” singing “I’m Not Tired Yet” and “Touch Me Lord.”
Broadcasting is now Clark’s portal through which his voice is heard. After assuming the duties as general manager and program director, he has pumped up WAVN to a level of respectability. The station is now ranked one of the Top 5 most-listened radio stations in the Memphis and the Mid-South area.
“I love the challenge,” he said, adding, “I want to eventually own my own FM gospel station and reach the top in my singing career. I want to record songs that will bless people in life and keep traditional gospel music alive.”
Tajuana Clark fought as much as she could to stop the onslaught of verbal, psychological and physical abuse for nearly half of her 8½ years of marriage. After reaching the breaking point, she bolted with her six children and ended up homeless on the streets of Memphis.
More than 11 years of marriage also ended for Dione Pruitt, who was subjected to her husband’s cruelty of verbal, psychological and physical abuse. She vamoosed with her five children, risking it all. With nowhere to turn and no one to turn to, sleeping in the car was her only recourse.
According to The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report, about 1 in 4 women (24.3 percent) and 1 in 7 men (13.8 percent) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
|Tajuana Clark (seated), Dione Pruitt (left)|
and Wanda Taylor. (Photo: Wiley Henry)
The survey also reported that nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (48.4 percent and 48.8 percent, respectively).
Count Clark and Pruitt among the ranks. They were victimized by men purporting to love them, men with a propensity for violence, the third leading cause of homelessness among families. Their stories are similar and all too familiar. But then they found solace and renewal at LINCS (Ladies In Need Can Survive). With intense training, they were able to turn their lives around.
From crisis to rehabilitation…
LINCS is a non-profit “home away from home” in the Frayser community for women who have been psychologically and physically abused, incarcerated, or struggling with poverty, substance abuse and homelessness.
Since LINCS’ opening during the summer of 2013, seven women have completed a structured, intensive training program: Drug and Alcohol Intensive Outpatient Program, Counseling, Anger Management, Domestic Violence Education, Parenting & Life Skills Coaching, Job Readiness, Career and Financial Planning, Educational Guidance, the Health and Wellness Program, First Aid/CPR and SIDS Training, and Housing Assistance.
“We can house four women at a time, but I won’t leave a lady out because I can’t house them,” said Wanda Taylor, LINCS’ CEO and executive director. If the facility is full, she continues to extend a hand to feed other women or refers them to other facilities.
“Every woman who comes through the door, I mentor them and provide services to get them back on track,” said Taylor. “Other programs deal with the addiction. I deal with the core issue, the root cause.”
Women in distress are referred to LINCS by churches and a number of organizations, such as the YWCA, The Salvation Army, Friends For Life, Serenity Recovery Centers, Inc., and Project Homeless Connect Memphis.
Tajuana Clark: Failure is not an option
“Being at the center taught me that dreams do come true,” said Clark, who underwent a rigorous training program to address her myriad problems. “I got into a good program so I wouldn’t be stuck in bondage.” Clark received counseling, went back to high school to get her diploma, got a job, and then matriculated at National College in Memphis to become a pharmacy technician. Then it was on to Tennessee Academy of Cosmetology after National College closed its doors.
“My career goal is to be a nurse practitioner,” said Clark, 30, who never thought any of her dreams would come to fruition. “I felt like I had a learning disability, but I was encouraged that it wasn’t too late for me.” Once in school, Clark made good grades – A’s and B’s. “I knew I had it, but I felt I’d taken too long to get my diploma.”
“Tajuana has completed the program and has done exceptionally well since she’s been in school,” said Taylor. “Now she has a positive outlook on life, no longer receives public assistance, and was reunited with her children after finishing the program.”
As Clark recalls, “Ms. Wanda” was trying to get the center open when they met.
“She stayed friends with me and loved me where I was. She encouraged me when I was going through not to give up. I felt like I’d failed myself and everybody, but she let me know that failure was not an option.”
Clark fought mightily to turn her life around. “I was empty and had no more fight in me,” she said. “But then I knew I was a winner. I just thank God that I didn’t end up at a dead end.”
Dione Pruitt: ‘There is no turning back’
“I’m free, I got peace, and I’m going to keep it like that,” said Pruitt, who has her own home now and a vehicle. Her children also were returned after the threat of domestic violence had ceased and after she was no longer homeless. Thanks to LINCS, “I’m just blessed.”
Pruitt says she is stronger now than she was before. “I’m still processing and healing on certain things,” she said. “But I’m there. There is no turning back. I’ve come too far. My goal is to get my GED, own my own business, and just live life.”
LINCS may have been Pruitt’s saving grace. She will graduate this month with her GED. “The only people I can really trust is Ms. Wanda and Ms. JoAnn Lee, my godmom,” said Pruitt, 33.
“Dione was very timid because of all the abuse that she’s gone through,” Taylor said. “Her self esteem is at an all time high and she’s learned to love herself all over again.”
Love had been fleeting or nonexistent, Pruitt claims. “When I left my husband, I was homeless and slept in my car. My oldest child was with me; the other children stayed with their fathers,” she said. “I stayed six months at the YWCA and got a referral to LINCS.”
When Pruitt finally got herself together, her bearings straight, she surprised her daughter. “She was the first to see the house. The others came after a month. They were happy and running everywhere. So I just let them have a good time.”
Pruitt said she was never told she was beautiful. “Now I know I’m beautiful,” she said confidently. “Nobody can take that away from me.”
Wanda Taylor: ‘I’m an overcomer’
The women that Taylor has helped to get back on their feet are mirror images of herself. She grew up in a single parent household in public housing and likewise endured verbal, psychological and physical abuse.
“My mom battled alcohol and my dad was addicted to drugs. So I was raised in the streets and grew up with gangsters, prostitutes and drug dealers,” said Taylor, who once lived with her brother and sister in both the Claiborne Homes and LeMoyne Gardens housing projects.
The environment that Taylor was accustomed to was dangerous. She’d endeared herself to the underbelly of life and engaged in the type of illicit behavior that could’ve cost her life.
"At 11, I was introduced to cocaine, alcohol and sex,” she said. “I started experiencing domestic violence at 15, dropped out of school in the 11th-grade, and became a teen mom. I had no morals and values.
“I was so confused. I was selling drugs, stealing, in and out of the court. I’m the face in incest, homelessness, substance abuse, incarceration – everything. I lived at The Salvation Army twice, in a vacant apartment with my children, and out of my mom’s car.
“I was shot at, stabbed, almost burned alive, and tied up. Guns were pulled on me countless times. And I also went through an abusive marriage – almost three years,” said Taylor, the mother of two adult children and three grandchildren.
In 1992, Taylor made a decision to transform her life. She found Jesus Christ. In 2002, at the age of 28, she received her high school diploma. At 35, she’d received a cosmetology diploma, technical certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling, and an Associate of Science degree in Human Services both from Southwest Tennessee Community College. She also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management at the University of Phoenix.
“I’m an overcomer,” she said.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Long before the tantalizing aroma of barbecue ever wafted across Nathaniel Ray Nolan’s nostrils, pit masters in Memphis and Shelby County were already making headway in perfecting the art of barbecuing various meat products on the grill.
It would take Nolan most of his life to master the grill. Now he’s confident that he can whet the appetite and tease the palette of those who relish good barbecue with a slather of his own specially formulated tangy/sweet barbecue sauce.
Nolan proclaims himself the “Dr. of Barbecue,” a title he assures he can back up. No matter the competition, he says he’s “world famous,” a description he’s added to the name of his newly launched “World Famous Dr. Barbecue Sauce.”
|Nathaniel Ray Nolan|
“Barbecue is who I am,” said Nolan, who barbecues and caters all types of events for a living. “Some guys are good at what they do. I’m good at what I do. It’s an art. And I am very serious about my product, my brand.”
Nolan has been serious about barbecue since he was 6 years old living in the Binghamton community. His mother, he said, would send his father out to purchase barbecue sandwiches for the family every Friday night.
“I thought barbecue was the best sandwich I’d ever had. Then I began craving barbeque. It was sort of like my passion,” said Nolan, recalling the savory experience that triggered an unrelenting search for the ultimate barbecue sandwich.
“I was about 9 years old when I used to go in my mom’s pantry and get a little ketchup and a little vinegar. My dad was from New Orleans. So when she would go to New Orleans, she’d bring back all these herbs and spices,” said Nolan, the second born of seven children.
Nolan’s passion, cravings, and insatiable appetite for barbecue never waned. He even worked at barbecue restaurants when he grew older. “I told some of the owners…I said, ‘Look, sir, you guys don’t have to pay me in cash, y’all can pay me in barbecue.’”
The plan was to learn as much about preparing barbecue and, most certainly, the sauce. “I was trying to learn a lot about everybody’s secret sauce,” he said. “I knew that one ingredient that I would need to use was ketchup.”
Undaunted by the secrets of other sauces, Nolan set out to make his own barbecue sauce, one that would “blow your taste buds away.” So he started experimenting, and, through trial and error, kept trying to formulate his own special sauce.
|World Famous Dr.|
In 1977, the pit master started his first barbecue restaurant in Memphis. It was a dream come true, he said, one that he’d envisioned in his youth when he first aspired to become an entrepreneur. Even after overcoming a speech impediment, he was on his way to becoming the “Dr. of Barbecue.”
“Because I’m the ‘World Famous Dr. of Barbeque,’ I wanted to play up to the doctor …to make sure that my barbecue sauce is healthy for the body,” said Nolan, who consulted with a chemist to ascertain the right mixture of herbs and spices for his barbecue sauce.
“I wanted to keep the ingredients low in sodium. I wanted to keep it a healthy, conscious barbecue sauce, which would be a great marketing tool because people are very health conscious these days,” he said.
Taking his role seriously as the ‘World Famous Dr. of Barbecue,’ Nolan says, “If you got a pain that you can’t explain, if you got an ache that won’t wait, if you got a feeling that’s killing, you need to come see Dr. Barbecue for some nutritional healing.”
Nolan is not shy about promoting his barbecue sauce, which he often refers to as his “Memphis Mojo Barbecue Sauce.” He also has developed a dry rub that he’s calling his M.F.E. (Miracle Flavor Enhancer). And in the very near future, he plans to introduce a wing sauce and salad dressing.
“It’s like my little goobie dust,” he said.
In order to prove the appeal of his sauce, Nolan has conducted several taste tests with various brand- name barbecue sauces currently on the market. “99.9 percent of people chose my sauce over the others,” he said. “This is an amazing barbecue sauce that the world needs to know about.”
Tens of millions worldwide got a chance to see Nolan challenging Eddie Robinson in an underground barbecue cook-off via the Travel Channel. Both teams – Cordova vs. Prospect – grilled pork ribs and presented a menu that represented their neighborhoods.
Nolan collected a hefty $10,000 grand prize for his efforts. The show aired Aug. 24. The victory, he said, imbued him with an even greater determination to see that his barbecue sauce is distributed nationwide.
“I’m planning a 10-city tour that will start Oct. 25. Houston (Texas Southern University’s homecoming game) will be my first stop,” he said. “I’m going all across America: St. Louis, Kansas City, Dallas, North Carolina, New Orleans, Montgomery, Ala., Atlanta, Nashville.”
The pit master also pointed out that he’s purchasing a bus to carry his team on the road. Of course, he will have in tow a big smoker that he built with a catwalk.
“The girls will dress up in nurse uniforms. And I will dress up in a doctor’s coat and stethoscope,” said Nolan, who plans be in character as the Dr. of Barbecue.
“I’m at the top of my game. I’m good at what I do. I’m a fulltime barbecue guru. And my blood bleeds barbecue,” he said. “My dad used to say, ‘Son, don’t brag if you can’t back it up.’” But then he added, “Bragging ain’t bragging as long as you can back it up.”
(For more information about Nathaniel Ray Nolan or his “World Famous Dr. Barbecue Sauce,”call him at 901-314-5596)