Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Doors open for George L. Nichols that were once closed to African Americans

After the defiant Arkansas governor Orval Faubus tried to stop nine black students from enrolling at Little Rock Central High School in 1957, Elizabeth Watkins Crawford, Clarence McKinney, Mary Luellen Owens Wagner and George L. Nichols were readying themselves to integrate the undergraduate program at East Tennessee State College (now East Tennessee State University) in Johnson City, Tenn. They succeeded in August 1958.
Fifty-five years later, the names of the four students – along with Eugene Caruthers, the first African American to be admitted into ETSC’s graduate program in January 1956 – were permanently etched into the foot of a circular commemorative fountain and historic marker facing the ETSU Multicultural Center. The unveiling and dedication was held March 25, 2013.
George L. Nichols
We were the first college in the state to integrate, and some say the first in the South,” said Nichols, recalling his experience at the college. “We could not belong to any organizations, initially. We didn’t have much of a social life. Nobody talked to you for the most part.”
Unlike the mass hysteria and subsequent press coverage surrounding “The Little Rock Nine,” “the press didn’t cover our enrollment,” said Nichols, who was cognizant of the acts of violence spreading across the U.S. The news of segregated conditions in his hometown of Johnson City, however, was a mere blip on the radar.
We knew the situation. We had grown up there,” he said.
Crawford, McKinney, Wagner and Nichols attended Langston High School in the predominantly white East Tennessee enclave before enrolling at ETSC. Caruthers, who had moved to Nashville from his native Chicago, taught science and directed the band at Langston before taking on the status quo at ETSC.
Nichols was the salutatorian of his class at Langston. He majored in biology at ETSC and was the first African American student to be accepted into the marching band; he played the snare drums. He also was the first African American to be commissioned a second lieutenant from ETSC’s Army ROTC program.
Of the nearly 100 white students in the program, Nichols was the only African American, a first for ETSC. “We talked to each other,” he said, recalling a weekend bus trip to Fort Bragg in North Carolina during his junior year.
“Coming back, we stopped at this restaurant somewhere in North Carolina. We sat down at the counter and others sat down at tables. So a waitress came up. She sat a plate down for the guy on my left. She skipped me. Then she sat a plate down for the guy on my right.”
As expected, the waitress refused to serve him. “I told one of my classmates to bring me a sandwich and I’ll sit on the bus and wait for them. He told me no, to stay where I was. They made all their orders and when they brought their food out, everybody got up and walked out and left the food.”  
Nichols graduated from ETSC in 1962 and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He spent 7 ½ years in the service and left with two awards of the Bronze Star; six awards of the Air Medal, two for valor; two awards of the Army Commendation Medal; the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm; and the Parachutist Badge.
When I left the service [with the rank of captain], I went to work at Citibank in New York City,” said Nichols, spending a total of 37 years in banking and public service that included stints at Summit Bank in New Jersey, Dime Savings Bank of New York, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York.
Nichols retired from Citibank in 2007 and moved to Nashville in 2008. On Nov. 1, 2013, he was inducted into the ETSU Army ROTC Hall of Fame. In June, he was inducted into the U.S. Army’s National ROTC Hall of Fame. General Colin Powell, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was also inducted.
Nichols received his M.B.A. from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. He now lives in Mt. Juliet, a suburb of Nashville, and is active in Vietnam Veterans of America.

Olympian Rochelle Stevens pens book about her journey in track and field

Rochelle Stevens has been running most of her life – not from something or someone, but toward a goal that eventually materialized at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., where she won a goal medal in track and field and a silver medal in the same event at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
Add to that Stevens’ “drive to strive,” the challenges she faced while pursuing her Olympic dream, the perceptions about success in track and field, and you’ll get the entrepreneur and philanthropist who has written about her journey in a recently self-published book entitled “Travel the World by Foot.”
Rochelle Stevens
 “I didn’t realize that my dream would take me all over the world,” said Stevens, who decided to write about her Olympic experience and travels to over 50 countries after returning from a Christian conference in San Diego, Calif., that was hosted by Michael Dean "Mike" Murdock, a contemporary Christian singer/songwriter, televangelist and pastor.
 I was motivated by his presentation,” said Stevens, who was compelled to capture her historic journey in print for posterity. “I felt that I needed to share my Olympic experience, knowledge and wisdom with young people who aspire to become athletes as well.”
On less than 100 pages under 15 chapters, Stevens rolls out her life story, which she juxtaposes with photos at the onset of her career, photos of the races she competed in, photos after she medaled, and photos of her community service. The book is essentially a documentary in words and photos.
 “I wanted to share the challenges and perceptions and the pre-judgment that go along with it (being an Olympian),” Stevens said. “People automatically assume that sometimes you don’t have to work as hard to accomplish your goals.”
Nothing comes easy in life without working hard at it, added Stevens, who first blazed a path in track and field at Melrose High School, her alma mater, and then at Morgan State University while she was on a full track scholarship.

At Morgan State, Stevens earned a B.S. degree in telecommunications and sales and then went on to receive an M.S. degree in public relations from Columbus University. She is shy of finishing the requirements for a doctorate.
There is tidbit information in the book about each country Stevens has traveled and other information that some people may not be familiar with, such as the group she called her dream team, which consisted of her training partners, sports agent, weightlifting coach, and even the two women who manicured her nails.
Although a team was taut, someone was there at every turn to help prepare Stevens to cross the finish line. That someone was Beatrice Holloway, a.k.a “Coach Mom,” who had been a college track star.
“It’s important to have your own support team,” said Stevens. “It takes more than one person to help some dreams come true. You need to find that mentor or role model that you want to be like. And then you find people who have the same interest you have that can help you to pursue your dream.”
Stevens is a role model and mentor to many young, aspiring athletes looking for a pathway to success. Shortly after hanging up her running shoes, Stevens started hosting the Rochelle Stevens Invitation Track Meet. Twenty-six years later, more than 10,000 athletes put their best foot forward to impress college coaches, scouts and recruiters.
“Track and field has come a long way,” said Stevens, who cheered on the home team in track and field at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “Some of these people are running to break our records. They’re chasing after the dreams that we put in place.”

 (For more information about “Travel the World by Foot,” email rochelledayspa@gmail.com or go to www.traeltheworldbyfoot.com)

National recording artist Kevin Davidson to celebrate 30 years in music

National recording artist Kevin Davidson struck a chord when he penned “Born to Win” (2000), a widely favorite contemporary gospel song that soloists and community choirs near and far still sing with emotional fervor, as if they were indeed born to win.
Davidson has been writing soul-stirring, contemporary gospel songs for decades. Many of them have topped the charts and continue to catapult the singer/songwriter up the echelon in gospel music circles near and far.
On Friday, Aug. 19, Davidson will celebrate 30 years in the music business. A musical tribute is slated for 7 p.m. at The Rock Church Memphis, 6720 East Raines Rd. The doors will open at 6 p.m. The Rev. Darrel Petties will host the musical tribute, while the Rev. Courtney Franklin directs. Both Petties and Franklin are recording artists as well.
National recording artist Kevin Davidson
Featured guest artists include LeAndria Johnson, James Fortune, the Rev. Tim Rogers, Nakitta Foxx, the Rev. Chris Williams, and Nate Bean & 4Given. The original lead singers of Kevin Davidson & The Voices will make a contribution as well.
The aforementioned gospel artists will pay tribute to Davidson for his work in ministry and the path he’s blazed in music. Memphis has become a hotbed and source for some of the industry’s most talented singer/songwriters. Davidson has been at the top of the heap for years.
 “I will be celebrating 30 years of music ministry,” said Davidson, who has generated a following with songs that permeate and stir one’s soul – such as “Fight On” (1998), “Count Your Blessings” (1998), “Our God is Awesome” (1998), “Bounce Back” (2005), “Church Let’s Rock” (2014), “Something Happens” (2014), and many others.
“We’re doing all the music that I recorded over the 30-year period,” said Davidson, acknowledging the late Rev. James Moore, the award-winning gospel singer from Detroit, and the late O’landa Draper, a Grammy-award winning gospel artist and innovative choir director from Memphis, as two class acts that inspired him. 
But then he’s cognizant of the higher authority that inspires him to write powerful lyrics and arrange them as songs. “It’s just the Lord,” he said. “The lyrics just come to me.”
His mother, an evangelist at Mt. Zion Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis, raised Davidson in the admonition of the Lord after his father died when he was 5 years old. He has since been a continuing presence in the church.
Apostle Lawrence Braggs of Trumpet of Zion Ministries in Little Rock, Ark., licensed and ordained the popular artist to preach the gospel. He is the founder and chief apostle of the Dominion Church in Memphis.
Before his focus in music materialized, Davidson played basketball at East High School, where he graduated in 1989. He is the youngest of his mother’s three children. “I was the average kid,” he said. “I was athletic, then I shifted into music.”
Music has since provided an outlet for Davidson to express himself while leaving an indelible imprint in the industry and a legacy that he hopes his six children with cherish. He says he is happily married and that his children so far are not musically inclined.
Davidson plans to release a new album on the LVP Entertainment, Inc. record label in early 2017. Until then, he’ll continue to strike a chord in the music industry.

(For inquiries or ticket purchases, contact Kevin Davidson at kdtribute30@gmail.com)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Lewie Polk Steinberg: Reflections of a music icon

The original Booker T. & the M.G.'s. Bassist Lewie Polk Steinberg is on the right. (Courtesy photo)
Memories fade with time, but “Green Onions,” the raw, gritty and funky instrumental composition that Stax Records churned into a hit in the 1960s, is unforgettable. After more than 50 years, the bass line is still the subject of water-cooler conversations.
The musician that comes to mind is Lewie Polk Steinberg, the original bassist for Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Stax’s R&B/funk house band. Mr. Steinberg’s thumping bass line in “Green Onions” propelled the group and also helped to orchestrate the record label’s worldwide signature sound.
Lewie Pole Steinberg
“Green Onions” also propelled Mr. Steinberg, the quintessential bassist who strummed his bass for some of the industry’s most notable song titles and the artists/musicians that set precedencies in Memphis music history.
Mr. Steinberg, who engineered a stellar career in music, died of cancer July 21. He was 82.
“Even though he played rock and roll, he loved jazz. That was his favorite music,” said Ida Steinberg, one of Mr. Steinberg’s six children. “We would watch ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’ together. That was his favorite. He liked the Big Band era, but he was opened to all genres.”
Mr. Steinberg, the 14th of 15 children, was perhaps the most noted in the family of musicians. His father, Milton Gus Steinberg, was born on Beale Street and played piano with W. C. Handy in Memphis and New Orleans, according to his obituary.
His sister, Nan Steinberg Morton, toured with Fats Waller and her brothers: Morris (sax), Luther (trumpet, piano) and Wilbur (bass, singer). They, Mr. Steinberg included, played with some of the best musicians in the world.
“They laid the foundation called ‘The Memphis Sound,’” said Ida Steinberg, who didn’t realize the breadth of her family’s contribution to music until much later in life. “When you’re growing up with all that great music and the best well known people are coming over to the house, you kind of take it for granted.”
Tony Steinberg, the son of Wilbur Steinberg, said his uncle made sure the family’s contribution to Memphis music would be remembered forever. “He was very pleased,” his nephew said, “when the Steinberg family got a Brass Note on Beale Street in 2010.”
Although Mr. Steinberg had achieved immeasurable success, “He felt it was important for the whole family. It was a relay race. There was not a particular star. He just happened to be the last one in the relay race. He was able to get across the finish line.”
Diane Steinberg-Lewis said they all were enamored with Mr. Steinberg. “When the music was going on, it was always a Steinberg there. We were all so proud of him. But my dad (Luther Steinberg) was upset because he played rock and roll. They were jazz musicians.”
They were big teasers too, particularly Mr. Steinberg, she said. “When I loss my two front teeth as a child, I learned how to whistle. So he named me whistle girl. ‘It’s the whistle gal,’ he’d say, and then he’d laugh.”
But what Steinberg-Lewis remembers most are the conversations, intonation and phrasing, which she attributes to Memphis jazz musicians when they are in creative mode or just sitting around making small-talk.
“There’s no way to hear ‘Green Onions’ and not know that it is so Memphis,” she said.   
Kenny Lewis, a bassist and Steinberg-Lewis’ husband, recalls Mr. Steinberg sharing with him a little tidbit when he started playing bass full time with the Steve Miller Band. He ended up with “big blood blisters” on his fingers, he said, just what Mr. Steinberg had predicted when playing the bass without a pick.
“I used to take pictures of them (fingers) and send them to him,” said Lewis. “He just laughed and said, ‘Yeah, there you go. You got to get those big corns on them.’”
Mr. Steinberg was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy "Lifetime Achievement Award," The Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and many other awards.

Youngest editor of The Christian Recorder plans to build on the legacy of his predecessor

John Thomas III was elected the 21st editor of The Christian Recorder on the first ballot with 78 percent of the vote. He is the youngest elected general officer to head one of nine departments in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The election was held July 11 at the denomination’s 50th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference in Philadelphia, Pa., while celebrating its Bicentennial. Delegates near and far converged at the conference.
“I’m the first non-clergy person, the first lay person to hold this office,” said Thomas, 34, a member of St. John A.M.E. Church in North Nashville. He succeeds Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III, who was first elected editor in 2004.
John Thomas III
After all the votes were counted, Thomas was victorious with 1,192 votes. His opponent, Velma E. Grant, came in a distant second with 191 votes, followed by Glenn V. Gordon III, who trailed with 141 votes.
The Christian Recorder is the nation’s oldest black newspaper in the United States, which pre-dates the Civil War. The inaugural issue was published and distributed on July 1, 1852, following the General Conference that year in New York.
The newspaper is located at 512 8th Avenue South in Nashville. It is published bi-weekly by the A.M.E.C. Sunday School Union, the publishing house for the A.M.E. Church. The Rev. Dr. Johnny Barbour Jr. is the president/publisher.
After winning the election, Thomas hit the ground running on Aug. 1, his first day on the job. He had worked under Sydnor as his assistant and now he’s looking for ways to build upon his predecessor’s legacy.
“I’m looking for a better way to express the voice of African Methodism,” said Thomas. “I’m working on a theme: ‘News First.’ I’m trying to get people to understand the A.M.E. Church is doing a lot of ministry.”
Like any campaign for elected office, issues are explored and platforms announced. I ran on the platform of Coverage, Concept and Compassion,” said Thomas, who plans to recruit columnists, writers, and develop fresh content.
The Christian Recorder generally covers major meetings, church anniversaries and homecomings throughout the denomination. But there’s more to the newspaper than just church news. “There will be columns dealing with social justice issues,” he said.
Aside from addressing biblical and moral issues, the newspaper was the voice for secular issues during its heyday when racism, slavery and classism topped the pages of the paper. It was a strong and vocal opponent to slavery as well.
“I will be broadening our reach beyond our traditional audiences and integrating the print content and the online content,” said Thomas, calling it a privilege to follow in Sydnor’s footsteps and to live up to his example.
The example that Sydnor set during his tenure shouldn’t be too difficult for Thomas, who worked with him for a number of years. He considers his predecessor a mentor, friend, and “the paragon of a Christian gentleman.”
The A.M.E. Church is rooted in 39 different nations, 20 different regions. “I want to make sure that every region has an opportunity to have its voice heard,” said Thomas. “I want to make sure the regions are represented in the paper.”
Thomas is a Ph.D. candidate studying political science at the University of Chicago.
“My dissertation is on Black Politics in Latin America,” he said. “I’ve studied black movements in Peru and Ecuador. I’m passionate about my research. I’m passionate about black folks. I’m passionate about the African diaspora. I’m passionate about who we are and what we’re doing.”
Although the new editor is back and forth between Nashville and Chicago, he’s never too far from the church. My work in the church is a calling, a full time ministry,” he said.

A career path in dentistry shines bright for Shania Jones

Shania Jones has received an invaluable education in general dentistry. (Courtesy photo)
There are two defining moments in Shania Jones’ life that she will never forget: the day she enrolled in a registered dental assistant (RDA) training program at the Interfaith Education Center for Community Dental Care (the educational arm of the nonprofit Interfaith Dental Clinic), and the day she graduated with a diploma.
Jones was 18 when she started the 32-week, full-time training program on Oct. 8, 2015. She graduated June 22 with invaluable experience in general dentistry, as well as experience in endodontics, IV sedation, and oral surgery.
I wanted to make a change in my life and thought it could be something I really liked,” said Jones, who, prior to her life-changing experience, worked two part-time jobs at Wendy's and as an intern at The Housing Authorities.
Change was a foregone conclusion when Jones looked back over the vicissitudes of her life and decided that a career in dentistry would be the course she’d take going forward. Looking back, however, was a reminder of how far she’d come before making the most important decision of her life.
There were many challenges, said Jones, who was bounced from house to house, state to state during her adolescent years, which led to unwelcomed family discord and, as a result, caused uneasiness and middle school angst.
“When I was 16, I lived in Gary, Ind., with my dad for a few years. Then I moved to Tennessee to live with my mom when I was 17,” said Jones, who graduated from Holloway High School in Murfreesboro in 2014.
“My mom used to tell me when I was small that I already had two strikes against me; and that I was going to have to work harder than anyone else. Those two strikes are being a woman and being an African-American woman,” said Jones, who has a maternal sister and two brothers, as well as paternal siblings.
Those enduring words kept Jones focused on the life-lessons that her mother instilled in her during her upbringing. “I'm grateful for all my struggles and challenges,” she said. “It did nothing but make me the stronger person I am today.”
The struggles of the past ended for Jones and new challenges began after she took a leap of faith and landed squarely in the comprehensive dental training program, which would define who she is today and the career she’s chosen.
Being a student in the registered dental assistant program was a “joyful” experience, said Jones, crediting her instructors and staff for shaping her newly found career. “It's an environment that's hard not to be joyful.”
The classroom environment, she added, underscored the joy she felt when “helping out each other like a team, helping patients who desperately needed the help…and learning SO many new things every single day.”
“They say if you love your job, it's like not even working when you are doing something you love,” said Jones, who benefited from the small classroom and the one-on-one attention she received from her instructor and RDA trainer.
“I loved the hands-on directly with patients and the other doctor, who I thought was good for me,” she said. “I never imagined myself with a RDA career. I'll have it for the rest of my life.”
But dentistry wasn’t even Jones’ first love. It was music.
That's all I ever thought about doing in my life,” she said. “I never thought about going back to school to be a RDA. I had a big passion for music. That was where my focus was.”
Now Jones is focused on brightening smiles. “I prefer working in a oral surgery office,” she said. “I love extractions and all that good stuff. It's very interesting to me.”

Friday, August 5, 2016

Four churches in Frayser unify for ‘Saving Souls Sunday’

Four congregations in Frayser converged on July 31 for 'Saving Souls Sunday.'
 “It’s important that we work together,” said Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District Rep. Steve Cohen, who set the tone for a collaborative worship experience in the auditorium of Martin Luther King College Preparatory School on July 31.
 “It’s about people coming together to solve our problems,” said Cohen, referencing the Democratic National Convention last week in Philadelphia as an example of factions pulling together for a common cause. “We can do that in Memphis.”
That’s what the pastors of four churches in Frayser had in mind when their congregations converged at the school at 11:30 a.m. to call attention to the needs of the community. The collaborative worship experience was called “Saving Souls Sunday.”
Apostle Ricky Floyd, senior pastor of The Pursuit of  God
Transformation Center. (Photos by Wiley Henry)
 “We came to collaborate and to change our community,” said the Rev. Barron Martin, senior pastor of One Faith Christian Center Church at 3389 Dawn Drive and the other location at 4393 Pleasant Ridge Rd. in Millington, Tenn.
Martin shared the podium with Apostle Ricky Floyd, senior pastor of The Pursuit of God Transformation Center’s two locations: 3171 Signal St. and 114 Henry St.; the Rev. DeAndre D. Brown Sr., senior pastor of Lifeline To A Dying World Ministries at 1647 Dellwood Ave.; and the Rev. Charlie Caswell, senior pastor of Union Grove Baptist Church at 2285 Frayser Blvd.  
Each pastor spoke on a different topic. Brown’s message to the audience was about “serving.” He referenced the Old Testament story of Jabez – who asked God to bless him – to make a point that being a servant is “important in the house of the Lord.”
Like Jabez, Brown asked God to bless him after his return from prison. He was chided, he said, when he started cutting grass for free. Now he is the executive director of Lifeline to Success, an outreach ministry that helps ex-offenders.
Caswell followed with the theme “unity.” His message, “serve and obey,” was derived from John 17:1 and Ephesians 4:1. He said God’s people should come together in unity and added that the ‘7 P’s’ – Pastors, Politicians, Parents, Police, Principals, Proprietors and Partners – will help revitalize the community.
An ardent community activist, author and founder of the 3V Leader program, Caswell read from Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”
Does the world believe you have been sent by God?” he asked rhetorically.
“Where there is no vision the people perish,” said Martin, referring to a number of scriptures – Proverb 28:18, Genesis 1:1, Jeremiah 1:5 and 29:11, and Philippians 1:6. – to support his argument that God’s people should be “obedient,” the theme of his sermon.
“God will give you the insight, the mind, and the thoughts of God,” Martin told the audience. “The vision of God has not stopped. God spoke what He wanted to see…”
Floyd posed three questions – “Do you love God? Do you love yourself? Do you love your neighbor?” – that coincided with his message of “forgiveness and love.” And there is a difference between love and lust, he explained.
He said most people don’t know what love is, and added: “You got to forgive if you want to live.”
“There are no words to describe how four congregations were able to come together for one service. It was truly unified,” said Wanda Taylor, CEO/president of Ladies in Need Can Survive, Inc. (LINCS), a home for troubled women in the Frayser community. 
“When there was altar call, people were weeping, crying. They were healed and set free,” she said.
Added Ashley Lucas, a LINCS’s resident: “I felt the spirit. It was overwhelming. It was amazing. You really need ‘service, obedience, unity and love.’ You can’t get what you need from God unless you have all them.”

Librarian makes a compelling argument for male volunteer readers

From left: Librarian Inger O. Upchurch, Roland Wilks, Rochelle Stevens, Herman
Adair, Wiley Henry and Steven's nephew, Martin Alex Truitt. (Photo by Andre Mitchell)
Inger O. Upchurch is a stickler for reading – which is not surprising since she manages both the Crenshaw Library at 531 Vance Ave. and the Gaston Park Library at 1040 S. Third St. Her late mother, Aline M. Upchurch, once said: “Reading is a wonderful gift to give to a child!”
Upchurch took her mother’s words to heart, which was literally broken after she encountered a young man on the way to the corner store one day who couldn’t read. Not in this day and time, she thought.
 “He said, ‘Are you the library lady?’ He had a piece of paper and asked if I would read it to him,” Upchurch recalls. “The piece of paper said he had a court date in two weeks and to contact his attorney. I took my pen and circled the number for him to call.”
The message was very serious, said Upchurch, but the young man in his 20s didn’t know how severe the problem was and that he was possibly looking at jail time. “I was upset and angry that this young man couldn’t read,” she said. “He didn’t have a future.”
Upchurch contacted Charles “Mr. Chuck” Scruggs, who urged her to do something about the anger she was feeling for the illiterate man. So she wrote an outline for a mentoring program for toddlers and preschoolers called “Real Men Read.” 
“The mentors had to be African-American men,” said Upchurch, “because there weren’t many positive male role models for African-American children.”
Six volunteer readers answered the call of duty when Real Men Read launched in 2007: Herman Adair, Jake Allen, Archie Willis, Vince Higgins, Jamie Griffin and Reginald Milton. Since then, dozens of volunteers have read a plethora of books year-round to nearly 11,000 toddlers and preschoolers at 10 daycare centers. This year alone, the volunteers read to 1,100 toddlers and preschoolers.
On May 20, the volunteer readers celebrated the success of Real Men Read at their annual luncheon at the library. Explore Memphis, a summer reading program for children and enrichment opportunities for adults, also recognized the volunteers at its finale on July 31.
This year, Explore Memphis celebrated sports, health, and fitness. Rochelle Stevens, an Olympic gold and silver medalist, entrepreneur and philanthropist, shared her story about her drive to success in track and field.
Stevens also touted her book, “Travel the World by Foot,” and mingled with the audience. Steven, who also volunteers at the library, posed for photos with Real Men Read volunteers at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.
Roland Wilks, a retired engineer and substitute teacher, said he has so much fun reading to the toddlers and preschoolers.
“I’ve always been a volunteer,” said Wilks, who first read an article in the paper about Upchurch and what she was doing in the community. So he decided he’d volunteer for the Real Men Read program. “She made such a compelling argument. So I left my number and email.”
Reading to the kids, he said, has changed his life. “I’ve been reading for about five years and I’ve volunteered for other organizations for 15 to 20 years.”
“I want the best for my kids,” said Upchurch, thinking back to the man who motivated her to do something about illiteracy. “I don’t want lip service. I want action. I want African-American men to step up.”
Adair, the former deputy director of maintenance for the city of Memphis Public Works Division, was one of the first to step up. He and Upchurch were having Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house when she asked him to become a volunteer reader.
“I couldn’t refuse,” he said. “I want to say I made a contribution. I encouraged someone.”

Preacher develops playbook on principles for successful Christian living

Bishop Charles E. Bond Jr. has developed a playbook of strategies to help people develop their dreams and goals in life. Those strategies will be revealed in a life class on Aug. 8 at Ridgemont Ballroom, 3774 Raleigh Millington Rd.
The “Head Coach Coaching System” is a play-by-play action plan “to empower, encourage and enlighten African Americans on how to empower themselves economically through their passions and how to turn their passions into profit.”
Bishop Charles E. Bond Jr.
Bond is a life coach, author, internationally renowned motivational speaker, pastor, dream strategist, recording artist, clergy coach, and master motivator. Now he is coaching others to help turn their dreams into reality.
“If BeyoncĂ© uses a vocal coach, Tiger Woods a swinging coach, Steph Curry and LeBron James shooting coaches, and Mark Zuckerburg a corporate life coach – and they are among the elite and top of their leagues – what makes you and I think we can’t use a coach?” Bond said.
Entrepreneurs, business owners, the church laity and hierarchy, and the general public are encouraged to attend one of two life classes – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. A celebrity chef will provide a meal during each session.
Bond designed the seminar around six topics to motivate and inspire participants. Expect the coach to share practical steps to help participants develop their own personal playbook, which includes a full proof plan and strategy for success.   
“I will be coaching six main areas that people struggle with,” Bond said.
1. How to enlarge your vision:
“Some people look at their present situation and determine their ability by what’s around them instead of looking outside the box,” said Bond. “You got to creatively take what you got and work it. God gave all us something. He gave Martin Luther King a dream; Tyler Perry, Madea; Colonel (Harland David) Sanders, 14 spices.”
2. Building the right team:
Bond said this session is about putting relationships into perspective. “There are people that speak to our history, but don’t speak to our destiny,” he said. “You got a fat past and a skinny future.”
3. Organizing for success:
“Most people can’t complete projects, because they are all over the place,” he said. “They are not organized. They’re too scatterbrain. Wealthy people have strategies and plans. God doesn’t always give you what you pray for; He gives you what you’re prepared for.”
4. Time management:
“If you don’t respect time or money, you won’t have either.”
5. The mindset of success:
“Why pray for success and then plan for failure,” he said. “That’s an oxymoron.”
6. The power to see it through:
People don’t always finish projects they’ve started, said Bond, who will teach participants how to start and finish projects and achieve successful results.
The life class is for participants 18 to 88. “They’ve heard of coaching, but never experienced it,” he said. “I’ve been trying to find a way to help our people. They may want to write a book. They may want to start a business. They may want to live their dream. And dreams don’t come with expiration dates.”
Bond said the life class is a byproduct of what preachers are teaching in church. “I’m a Christian and I love the church. But the church is teaching us how to do church, but not teaching us how to do life.”
If parishioners don’t get life strategies, he said, from their pastor’s sermon on Sundays, “now you can come get some sound principles and apply it to your inspiration. Now you can get the application.”