Monday, August 17, 2015

‘Shifting’ defines The LEAP Summit

LEAP (Leaders, Entrepreneurs and Pastors) is the brainchild of hosts
Apostle Ricky Floyd and his wife, Pastor Sheila Floyd.
       Eliminating negative images and unfavorable perceptions of inner-city churches – and recasting them as worship centers with dominion and authority over every segment of one’s life – is the impetus behind The LEAP Summit (Aug. 26-29) at the Pursuit of God Transformation Center (POG), 3171 Signal St.
LEAP (Leaders, Entrepreneurs and Pastors) is the brainchild of hosts Apostle Ricky Floyd and his wife, Pastor Sheila Floyd, who envision the church with greater authority, keen vision, solid principles, and a church, he said, that is in need of a cultural makeover.
“So the vision of LEAP is to awaken the church,” Floyd said.
Floyd will kick off the summit next Wednesday at 7 p.m. Dr. Samuel R. Chand, a leadership architect and consultant, author, change strategist and speaker based in Stockbridge, Ga., and Bishop E.L. Warren, pastor of The Amazing Cathedral of Worship in Quincy, Ill., will be the luncheon speakers Thursday at noon. Dr. Chand also will deliver a 7 p.m. message.
Dr. Stacey Spencer, senior pastor of New Direction Christian Church, will speak Friday at 10 a.m. and Bishop Warren will follow with a message at 7 p.m. Empowerment workshops will take place both Friday and Saturday.
Workshops start at 10:45 a.m. and again at 7 p.m. Don Hutson, a global expert on sales and negotiations and author of the New York Times best selling book “One Minute Entrepreneur,” will be the luncheon speaker at noon on Saturday.
Workshop speakers include the Rev. Rhonda Pettigrew, co-pastor of Destiny Church in Jackson, Tenn.; Sam Garrett, CEO of Madison Line Records in Memphis; Myron Mays, radio talk show host and social media guru; Charlie Caswell, author and community activist; Elder Maryilyn Parker of Greater Faith City of Love in St. Louis; and Apostle Tony Wilson, entrepreneur coordinator for Mid-South Community College.
Other workshop speakers include Dr. Tonya Lyons, owner of New Image Family Dentistry and co-founder of Rock Church Memphis; the Rev. Darryl Hilliard, pastor of Rhema Word and Worship Church in Brookhaven, Miss.; recording artist Antonio Neal; and Brennan Hill, The New Tri-State Defender’s digital content manager.
There’s more: Sylvia “Monique” Reed, a consultant for Arbonne Essentials; Shelia Floyd, LEAP’s co-host and POG’s co-pastor; Bishop Gerald Patterson, pastor of Words of Faith Deliverance Ministries in Tupelo, Miss.; and state Rep. Antonio Parkinson (Dist. 98).
There is a registration fee to attend the summit. Night sessions, however, are free.
“The Lord had given me a vision probably about 6 or 7 years ago, that the only way there’s going to be a change in the community is that you have to get the seven Ps together: Pastors, Principals, Policemen, Parents, Politicians, Partners and Proprietors,” said Floyd.
He equates the seven Ps with the seven kingdoms in the Bible.
“Whoever rules these kingdoms will rule the world,” he said. “These seven kingdoms are Business, Politics, Arts and Entertainment, Family, Religion, Education and Media.”
The church, he said, has no authority over the “seven kingdoms.” LEAP is the vehicle to bring his vision to fruition. “The church is supposed to have dominion,” he said. “So God has allowed me to bring together an assembly that I call the most “brilliant minds….”
Floyd said the church is converting people, but the people are returning to a reprobated mindset and lifestyle. “If we don’t create a culture to sustain what we have converted,” he said, “his old culture will call him back.”
The Pursuit of God Transformation Center is an internationally known church nestled in the heart of the Frayser community, where Floyd has become an instrument for change. A second campus is located in the Uptown community at 114 Henry St.
“Touching, teaching and transforming lives” is a mantra that defines Floyd and his vision and a prerequisite for launching LEAP. “We’re concerned about the whole man,” he said. “We’re concerned about your health, your economics, your finances.”
Floyd said he didn’t launch LEAP to hype the people. “LEAP is a help event,” he said. “It’s not a shout event. This is a shifting event. This event is designed to teach you, to inspire you and even to give you divine connections.”
Although LEAP emanates from Frayser, Floyd said, “I’m in Frayser, but my assignment is not limited to Frayser. My assignment is to family, business and the church. That’s why I’m bringing this together.”

(For additional information about The LEAP Summit, contact Apostle Ricky Floyd or Pastor Sheila Floyd at 901-353-57724. Registration is available at

Plan to protect local churches ‘well on its way,” Wharton says

U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton III, the chief law enforcement officer for the Western
District of Tennessee, said the Charleston shooting is a reminder that churches should be
proactive and ever vigilant. (Photo: Wiley Henry)
       The church massacre in Charleston, S.C. and widespread concern about African-American churches burning is driving concern about the need to find ways to protect local churches.
Mayor A C Wharton Jr., Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn, Edward Stanton III, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, and state Rep. G.A. Hardaway (District 93) discussed the concern along with a group of clergymen at the headquarters of the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association on Tuesday.
“No one can legislate morality and decency,” said Memphis mayor AC Wharton Jr., noting the difference between church and state. “That falls into the hands of the churches. We might not be able to dictate morality and fairness, but…we’re going to make sure that they (churches) are able to do so in peace and safety.”
Shortly after the fatal shootings of nine members of historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on June 17, Wharton gave Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong the responsibility of assembling a security task force to avert a “Charleston-type incident” in Memphis.
The plan – “which I am not going to divulge” – is well on its way, said Wharton. He did not say when the plan would be fully implemented or what it entails. He did say, however, that there would be some form of training.
Asked what could churches do if a suspicious stranger is in their midst, Wharton said, “Churches are taught to be open and not judge by outward appearances. I was always taught that you should watch as well as pray. That means you have to be on the lookout somehow.”
Law enforcement, said Wharton, needs to know everything that’s going on in the event there is a threat to churches or if there is a potential for violence…“so that MPD can be in the best position to provide the needed protection.”
Recent fires at six African-American churches in five states – South Carolina, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee – have drawn federal scrutiny.
Justice Department spokesperson Melanie Newman in a July 2 statement noted ongoing investigations by the ATF, FBI, the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorneys’ offices.
“Preliminary investigations indicate that two of the fires were started by natural causes and one was the result of an electrical fire,” Newman said in her statement. “All of the fires remain under active investigation and federal law enforcement continues to work to determine the cause of all of the fires. To date the investigations have not revealed any potential links between the fires.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee and the Justice Department announced recently that a Knoxville federal grand jury has charged 63-year-old Robert Doggart with one-count of soliciting another person to torch a mosque in Islamberg, a hamlet in Hancock, N.Y.
If convicted, Doggart could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
At the meeting Tuesday in Memphis, Stanton said he was not aware of any church fires within his 22-county jurisdiction. “We’ve been very fortunate here,” he said.
Stanton said he immersed himself in conversation with the clergymen to inform them and the religious community that if there were a threat to them or their churches, they would know who to call and what to do.
The Charleston shooting is a reminder that churches should be proactive and ever vigilant in order to maintain their safety, he said. “We want to ensure that those places of worship and everywhere around the country remain safe.”
Gwyn said he wanted to give the clergymen some tidbit of information on how the churches and church leaders can protect themselves, which “raises awareness with all of the people here…all over the state…and all over the country.”
“You’re gonna see a more heightened level of security at churches,” he said. “There’s gonna have to be a cultural change. We’ve always had the mindset that the church is where you welcome everybody. We’re gonna have to know our congregation a little better.”
Hardaway convened the meeting with law enforcement and the clergy after speaking with Wharton and Gwyn. “We’ve got to live with the threat, but prepare ourselves,” he said.
“We have to be aware of what happened there and prepare ourselves so that it won’t happen here…. When you talk about a majority black city with a majority black leadership…you got to be conscious that Charleston wasn’t expecting it either.”
       The Rev. C.S. Greer, pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church and vice president of the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association, agreed with Hardaway that what happened in Charleston and in other areas 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Incumbent, challengers spar at women-centered session

Mayor A C Wharton pitches his platform while Dr. Sharon Webb and Council members
Jim Strickland and Harold Collins listen intently. (Photo: Wiley Henry)
      The mayoral forum hosted by a coalition of women Tuesday evening at First Congregational Church was an ideal setting for mayoral candidates to flex their muscles in advance of the Oct. 8 municipal election and to layout the framework for the job of mayor.
      Mayor A C Wharton Jr., Council members Harold Collins and Jim Strickland, and former Memphis City Schools board member Dr. Sharon Webb, took advantage of the opportunity to discuss their platform and relay to the audience why voters should send them to City Hall.
      The Memphis Area Women’s Council, the Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Shelby County LINKS, and First Congregational Church sponsored the forum.
      Issues particularly germane to women were topics – such as gender-based violence, crime and safety, access to good paying jobs, police brutality and an increase in both the minimum wage and the percentage of contracts awarded for women and minority-owned businesses.
      The panelists asked pointed questions during the 90-minute forum. The audience also submitted questions. Strickland and Collins, however, veered at times while responding to questions to hammer at Wharton’s record.
      When each candidate was asked what his or her administration would do to provide emergency shelter for transgender individuals, Wharton explained the difficulty of finding temporary shelter for women and women with children.
      “It’s difficult for a single woman to get shelter,” said Wharton, noting that his administration has already pulled together agencies that deal with homelessness. “We will continue to work to expand funding for the transgender, any population.”
      Collins saw a window of opportunity to lambast Wharton, asserting that he did not provide adequate housing for women when he served seven years as mayor of Shelby County and six years in his current role as Memphis mayor.
      “When we continue to say ‘I’m going to look for the answer. I’m going to find the right people’…after 13 years, we should have had something by now,” said Collins. “That to me is not effective leadership.”
      When the candidates were asked about bringing more women into their administration, Collins said, “Every woman that’s qualified, every woman that’s certified, will get an opportunity to serve in this administration.”
      Next up was Strickland. He said there was no reason why the city shouldn’t employ more female city directors. Of the 13, Janet Hooks, who heads the Division of Public Services and Neighborhoods, is the only female.
      “As mayor, my administration will reflect the city, the population of the city,” Strickland said.
      Wharton explained that it’s not a matter of getting jobs, but “making sure that women are in all critical positions.” He pointed to the WIN (Workforce Investment Network) program and various boards and commissions that women serve on as achievements.
      The question of domestic violence and improving safety for women prompted Strickland to bring up the Memphis Police Department’s more than 12,000 unprocessed rape kits that were uncovered in late 2013. The city council, he noted, provided $2 million to begin testing.
      Wharton didn’t refute the price tag, but instead pointed to the Family Safety Center as a place of refuge for women. He did say, matter-of-factly, that “there is no excuse for domestic violence and sexual assault. Zero!”       
      Collins in turn pointed out that the council was “the first to plant the seed” for the safety center. “We appropriated $750,000 to initiate the building of that program,” he said.
      Webb turned her attention to the audience, explaining that she knows firsthand about being a victim of domestic abuse. “Legislation doesn’t stop somebody from dying,” she said.
      As for improving the city’s transit system to access jobs, Wharton said he is seeking funding “right now” to reroute the entire transit system. “We don’t have to depend exclusively on MATA,” he said.
      “Memphis city government does not create jobs,” Strickland followed. “The city government provides services to create an atmosphere where jobs are created.”
      Collins said, “We know that the face of poverty in Memphis is a single woman. In Memphis, we should be ashamed of ourselves.”
      “The problem is a lot of women don’t know what’s available,” Webb said. “We need to revamp the transportation system and let it do what it needs to do.”
      Wharton took umbrage to Strickland’s assertion that the city wasn’t paying its bills and that the number of city contracts with female and minority-owned businesses have dwindled since he has been mayor.
      Strickland left halfway during the forum for another engagement. But Wharton didn’t let the councilman’s remarks go unchallenged.
      “I want to fact check Councilman Strickland,” he said. “Eighty-two percent of all invoices were paid in 30 days. When it comes to percentages, he’s just flat wrong, saying the numbers are down.”
      Collins said he would raise the percentage of city contracts to female and minority-owned businesses to 38 percent.
      The high crime rate and police brutality were sticking points for the candidates. Webb sees gang activity as a huge problem. She would talk to gang leaders to call a truce to stop the violence. She also said there should be mutual respect between the police and young black men.
      Wharton pointed to community policing as an effective deterrent. He also touted the Memphis Gun Down program to steer youth away from violence and a life of crime.
      Collins criticized Wharton for turning over the investigation of Darrius Stewart’s fatal shooting by a white police officer to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which records are sealed by law.
      “That’s why I called for the justice department and the FBI right away,” he said, “because our people need to know the information.”
      After the candidates made their closing remarks, Wharton said in a side interview that it is his job to correct Strickland, Collins and any other inaccuracies.
      “Judge us not by what we promise but by what we’ve done,” he said.
      Regina Walker, a spokesperson for the coalition, said the group would not endorse mayoral candidates collectively. “The organizations will make their own independent endorsements,” she said.

BREAKING: Memphis mourns passing of Civil Rights icon D'Army Bailey

The late D'Army Bailey
      Editor's Note: D’Army Bailey’s ongoing journey to make Greater Memphis and the country a better place to live, especially for African Americans, ended Sunday.
      A mentor and inspiration to many, Mr. Bailey – attorney, former judge, author, founder of the National Civil Rights Museum and always an activist – passed away at age 73, succumbing to cancer.
      The New Tri-State Defender will chronicle the passing of Mr. Bailey in this week’s edition. The newspaper’s archives include this 2010 story about Mr. Bailey’s book “The Education of a Black Radical.” The story features a Q&A with Mr. Bailey in which he shares details about the person so many grew to love and respect. We reprint it here in respectful tribute.

D’Army Bailey: Once a radical, still an activist

      Some of the battles he fought are duly noted in his latest book, “The Education of a Black Radical: A Southern Civil Rights Activist’s Journey 1959-1964.”
      The book follows the journey of a boy from the LeMoyne Gardens housing project who became a successful lawyer, actor, judge, author and activist.
      It tells the story of a man who courageously took a stand even when there was a price to pay.
      At Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., he was expelled for leading a boycott protesting the administration’s views on segregation.
      He enrolled at Clark University in Worchester, Mass., and then at Yale University, where he received a law degree.
      In 1971, Bailey entered politics and won a seat on the Berkeley City Council, but was recalled in 1973 after conservatives and moderates, angered by his outspokenness, targeted him. He returned to Memphis a year later, where he noticed that the political landscape had changed, but not to his satisfaction.
      In 1983, Bailey ran for mayor in a race that included African-American political heavyweights John Ford and Otis Higgs, with Dick Hackett emerging as the eventual winner. Seven years later, Bailey won a seat on the bench of the Circuit Court of Tennessee.
      On Sept. 15 of last year, Bailey retired as judge and now practices law with Wilkes & McHugh. His book is on sale in the bookstore of the National Civil Rights Museum, which he founded.
      In the following Q & A, Bailey offered a glimpse of what moved him into activism and what lessons others can learn:

      Tri-State Defender: Your autobiographical book “The Education of a Black Radical” gives us a glimpse of your life between 1959-1964. What inspired you to tell this story and the planned second and third installments?

      D’Army Bailey: The written word is a powerful force to educate and energize people. When in high school, I had a Remington typewriter and wrote for the Booker T. Washington High School newspaper, and the Tri State Defender and Memphis World. It was a blessing for me to grow up during the burgeoning of the civil rights movement. My book, “The Education of A Black Radical,” is full of untold stories from the inside of the civil rights movement. One of the remaining two books I will write will focus on my experiences in later years, in the 1970s when I was deeply involved in progressive and radical politics in Northern California. The other volume will be the story of my return to Memphis, a look at some of the city’s political and economic power brokers, and the documented inside story of the founding of the National Civil Rights Museum. For me, writing is therapeutic. It allows a release and reflection on internalized experiences drawn into perspective.
      TSD: What was the spark that ignited your activism, your source of inspiration?
      Bailey: It may have been when during my teen years my daddy got fired from his job as a train porter with the Illinois Central Railroad and I called the company president’s office in Chicago. Daddy was reinstated but not because of my call. Or maybe my activism started when I was fired from my high school job as an orderly at John Gaston Hospital for speaking back to a white supervisor. Afterward, I sat outside the hospital boardroom waiting to protest but the board would not hear me. I didn’t get my job back. But, in both instances, I knew that the right thing to do – if you felt aggrieved – was to take your grievance to the highest level possible.
      TSD: Did you show independence and possess leadership skills at an early age?
      Bailey: My earliest leadership was probably as a patrol captain for the street safety patrol at LaRose Elementary. In high school, I was president of the Counts, a citywide teenage men’s club, and “Sweetheart” of a girls social club centered mostly at Carver High School. I also did a teenage radio show three days a week, 15 minutes a day on WLOK.
      TSD: Was civil rights and the pursuit of freedom and equality talked about in the home while growing up with your mother and father?
      Bailey: In my home on Sundays we would listen to “Brown America Speaks” with Nat D. Williams on WDIA. Professor Williams was an early 1950s voice for the dignity and rights of black people. When blacks boycotted The Commercial Appeal newspaper because the newspaper would not use courtesy titles in referring to blacks, and to get the paper to stop running the daily Hambone’s Meditations, which caricatured blacks, my family stopped taking the paper, and only later resumed taking it once a week. When my mother took us downtown she wouldn’t let us eat in the white stores where blacks had to stand because, as she explained, “We weren’t horses and shouldn’t have to eat standing up.”
      TSD: In Memphis, the Tri-State Defender was there to report and photograph the good, bad and the ugly side of the civil rights movement. Were you inspired by some of these stories to pursue justice for African Americans?
      Bailey: The Tri State Defender and other black publications informed and inspired me with their detailed stories about the killing of Emmitt Till, the white riots to keep black kids out of Central High School in Little Rock, and the courageous struggle of Negro leaders like King, Rosa Parks and Roy Wilkins who spoke up and took to the front lines in the fight for racial justice. One of my most important friends and mentors in high school was Thaddeus Stokes, a leading black journalist who left the Atlanta Daily World to lead the Memphis World newspaper.
      TSD: Would you say you were rooted in civil rights activism?
      Bailey: In high school my brother, Walter, and I did volunteer work with the Shelby County Democratic Club, the vanguard black civil rights organization in this city, which took the lead in mobilizing black voters around a civil rights agenda. We were inspired by the dedicated, courageous and visionary leadership of Russell Sugarmon, A.W. Willis, Jesse Turner, O.Z. Evers, Vasco and Maxine Smith, Melvin Robinson, Fred Davis and others. Some of these leaders came, in later years, to greatly disappoint me as narrow and self-serving. I will talk about some of that in my book on Memphis.
      TSD: Forty-two years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., have things changed for the better for African Americans?
      Bailey: The economic, educational and social status of blacks is worsening and we are statistically worse off now than we were 10 years ago. By the time of his death, Dr. King knew that structural inequality was unyielding for black Americans. In 1967, (Dr. King) spoke: “For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of the society, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently. I think you’ve got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values.”
      TSD: Where do we go from here in a diverse society?
      Bailey: If we continue on our current trend, a small number of us will slip through and be absorbed with token jobs and more pay, but an increasingly greater number of our people will fall through the cracks. Then those who think they made it upwards will come to the rude awakening that they have been isolated, marginalized and will get kicked in the butt at the will of the corporate establishment. We must first rebuild our respect and faith in ourselves and move from materialism to self-sacrifice and renewed struggle for racial, social and economic justice, and in the words of Dr. King “reconstruction of the entire society.”
      TSD: Is race still a hindrance in today’s politics?
      Bailey: When Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers and the activists in Selma and Mississippi and other places fought for the right to vote, it was so we could get officials in office who would be dedicated to fighting for the rights of our people. Now, too many black officeholders use politics for their own economic and personal advancements and are silent on the real issues disproportionately affecting black communities. We need to step back and realize that money and special influence control many black as well as white politicians. We have got to mobilize, get back on the streets and in the public meetings so we will know first-hand what’s going on, and keep pressure on these politicians to keep them honest and accountable.