Monday, July 9, 2007

Covenant With Memphis

Journalist and political pundit Tavis Smiley created the Covenant with Black America, a plan of action for addressing concerns of the African-American community. The Covenant covers ten issues: healthcare, criminal justice, education, affordable housing, voting, rural development, police accountability, economic prosperity, environmental justice, and the digital divide. To assist communities to actually give the Covenant some life, Smiley also published the Covenant in Action.



What if we produced the Covenant with Memphis?! What concerns would we include? What action plans would we implement? What role would you play in breathing life into the plan? I submit that the CWM would have to include race, education, government accountability, and economic development/poverty. What else should be included?

11 comments:

Iona said...

Great blog Tomeka!
mark yates

Ms C said...

As a native Memphian and Memphis City School teacher, I agree with many of your statements. I, too, viewed, purchased and even showed the C-SPAN State of Black America two part segment, where Smiley gathered well known Black humanitarians to speak on the Covenant in Action, to my high school students. Although I have a few qualms with how our city is operated, I love Memphis and want to see it reach the full potential that resides within its boundaries---which are the people, particularly the children. I'm dedicated to improving the development of our youth. In terms of development, I mean holistically--emotionally, spiritually and physically. We need more role models for our youth. People to come back and give back, not only their money, but their time to our youth, who so desperately seek guidance, acceptance, respect and love.
I have yet to read the book, but I am all about discovering solutions to our problems. Some people talk, some watch and some do. I am all three. I watch people talk about what they plan to do and have combined various concepts into my own, which I am consistently implementing each day I walk into my school. We must lead by example. If you are confused as to why our children lie, steal, show disrespect, have a misunderstanding of what "love" really is and join gang–like organizations? Well, take a look at many of the so-call leaders in this community.....We can only blame the youth for so long until us adults take a look at ourselves. We need to ask the right questions,...but not from other adults...ask the constituents we are trying to help—the youth. Then we must realize that the streets are definitely calling our them, so what are WE going to do to redirect their attention? And living/moving to Cordova, Collierville or outsourcing the poverty striken ex-project residents to East Memphis to make downtown “a safe place” for our suburban counterparts in order to build revenue for real estate developers and politicians who have invested in that property...isn’t the answer. I’m down for change---we must constantly be willing to modify and adjust to the incessant needs of the community.
I’ve worked on campaigns, volunteered for this and that and attended different mixers within the political arena, and I have yet to be impressed with anyone’s “so-called” solutions. I’m in the trenches, so what do you tell a soldier on the front lines? “fight and don’t get killed”? guess what? that’s not enough. Until a leader can fight with me and leave when they can fight no longer, I don’t want to hear anything, I’m looking for people who are implementing the action they speak and working hard for the solution they seek.

Ms C said...

As a native Memphian and Memphis City School teacher, I agree with many of your statements. I, too, viewed, purchased and even showed the C-SPAN State of Black America two part segment, where Smiley gathered well known Black humanitarians to speak on the Covenant in Action, to my high school students. Although I have a few qualms with how our city is operated, I love Memphis and want to see it reach the full potential that resides within its boundaries---which are the people, particularly the children. I'm dedicated to improving the development of our youth. In terms of development, I mean holistically--emotionally, spiritually and physically. We need more role models for our youth. People to come back and give back, not only their money, but their time to our youth, who so desperately seek guidance, acceptance, respect and love.
I have yet to read the book, but I am all about discovering solutions to our problems. Some people talk, some watch and some do. I am all three. I watch people talk about what they plan to do and have combined various concepts into my own, which I am consistently implementing each day I walk into my school. We must lead by example. If you are confused as to why our children lie, steal, show disrespect, have a misunderstanding of what "love" really is and join gang–like organizations? Well, take a look at many of the so-call leaders in this community.....We can only blame the youth for so long until us adults take a look at ourselves. We need to ask the right questions,...but not from other adults...ask the constituents we are trying to help—the youth. Then we must realize that the streets are definitely calling them, so what are WE going to do to redirect their attention? And living/moving to Cordova, Collierville or outsourcing the poverty striken ex-project residents to East Memphis to make downtown “a safe place” for our suburban counterparts in order to build revenue for real estate developers and politicians who have invested in that property...isn’t the answer. I’m down for change---we must constantly be willing to modify and adjust to the incessant needs of the community.
I’ve worked on campaigns, volunteered for this and that and attended different mixers within the political arena, and I have yet to be impressed with anyone’s “so-called” solutions. I’m in the trenches, so what do you tell a soldier on the front lines? “fight and don’t get killed”? guess what? that’s not enough. Until a leader can fight with me and leave when they can fight no longer, I don’t want to hear anything, I’m looking for people who are implementing the action they speak and working hard for the solution they seek.

Anonymous said...

Most impressive! You go girl!
Betty Mallott

Ms C said...

Also, to answer the question you posed, "what else should be included?" You have education, but I feel that youth development is different than education. You can teach and preach and surround a person with books and information, but it doesn't necessarily equate a well rounded educated individual. Our youth need motivation and people who show them the way not just tell them. Smaller schools, more one-on-one interaction with mentors/teachers, a school psychologist/ social worker assigned to each school, and experiential learning. Plus, we can't just implement a new program without the proper training of teachers. Inner city youth learn best through open discussions and interactions, tactile projects and experience as to how to apply what is learned in the classroom to real life. This is not impossible, but it will take a lot of restructuring and sacrificing to make what's best for our youth a reality. This concept has been a growing brainchild of mine for some time.
As a sidebar, Ms. Hart, I have read many Memphis blogs, but yours is the only one I've ever responded. It is because you seemed to have something to say and a true desire for a solution that I felt compelled to add my little two cents. I hope and pray that you find the solutions you seek because YOU will find them, and I look forward to seeing what you will do. God Bless.

Tomeka Hart said...

Thanks for your great comments Ms. C. I think they are definitely worth more than 2 cents. You mentioned youth development as a concern. I could not agree more. In fact, the Memphis Urban League is in the process of developing a youth leadership development program that should be launched this fall. As noted, my opinions posted here are not representative of the League's or the MCS, but I will acknowledge when either are doing something to address noted concerns.

Thanks again. I sincerely hope this blog will get us to start talking, which will lead us to start working, which should result in us to start changing for the better.

Tomeka Hart said...

Mark and Betty, thanks for taking a peep at the blog!

susanne said...

Thanks for the blog Tomeka and your commitment - along with a growing group - to improve Memphis and address our real issues. I would add to your list: ensuring everyone has access and can effectively use technology including computers and the Internet; equal pay for equal work; dealing with all forms of abuse; leveraging our public and private resources more efficiently such as combining libraries, community centers and schools; improving health and healthcare; increasing quality, affordable housing; reducing recidivism and the huge amounts of money spent on incarceration and "criminal justice" and creating more effective ways to prevent and respond to criminal behavior. I would suggest that we also need to review the EEO data analysis of the 2000 Census for Memphis and Shelby County and determine what systemic changes are needed to transform that data and remove whatever glass or concrete ceilings exist. We need to consider creating venture capital pools to increase economic development of diverse micro and small businesses. We need to look at what works in other nations and cities that we can adapt to Memphis; e.g., how South Africa dealt with the transformation from apartheid and is dealing with race and its impact on other issues. susanne - speaking as an individual - not on behalf of any organization

Tomeka Hart said...

Thanks Susanne! As more people start to respond, I intend to compile the suggestions and then we can work on a plan of action for each. Of course, some things are already in the works, so it could be just a matter of connecting people with the right organization/group. I am serious that we can no longer talk about these issues without taking some real action to attack them.

Gregory Love said...

Tomeka, Memphis is fortunate to have you. Shine On.

Gregory Love

Anonymous said...

Since the first, and arguably most important, social learning arena is the home, and strong marriages are key to healthy homes, marriage mentoring and programs to build strong marriages would be a key area of importance. Research shows that children feel more secure in and are much more likely to thrive in families where the marital bond is strong.

Because of the high number of children born to single parents in the African American community, education must take place on several fronts: modeling of what a strong marriage looks like by black couples who are married; mentoring of young couples by older married couples; education of children and youth about what a strong marriage looks like; education for "saving yourself for marriage" for children, teens, and adults in order to help change the cultural acceptance of sex before and outside of marriage, to name a few.

Since it is often more effective to build on strengths, the first place to begin this tidal change would seem to be with those couples within the black community who have strong marriages and helping them mentor younger black couples. Dr. Ed Gray of Harding University Graduate School right here in Memphis has written a marriage mentoring program as part of the Memphis Marriage Initiative. You can check out the website at http://www.12conversations.com.

Great post, Tomeka!