|Memphis is a failed (Black) city|
Crime already had grown scary enough in their Raleigh neighborhood, so when drug dealers brazenly opened shop down the street, Thelmon and Barbara Butler got in their car and went for a drive.
They headed east, scouting subdivisions with rustic-sounding names and mazelike cul-de-sacs for a new place to live.
"We drove from street to street," said Thelmon Butler, 57, pastor of a church in Southeast Shelby County. "We went everywhere."
They ended up in a three-bedroom brick home off Macon and Houston Levee, on a street that at the time had only one other African-American household.
Now, six years later, the Butlers are among dozens of black families in the Cordova Ridge planned development. They're representative of a major demographic trend documented in census data released last month.
Although "white flight" was the Memphis area's dominant population pattern in the 1970s, '80s and '90s, the first decade of the 21st century witnessed a wave of "black flight" that made many suburban areas more diverse than many older parts of the city, including Midtown.
An analysis of statistics from the Census Bureau's latest American Community Survey data shows that in 66 suburban census tracts in Shelby County, the estimated number of black residents has increased 56 percent, from 83,019 in 2000 to 129,443 in 2010.
African-Americans now account for fully one-third of all residents in the tracts, up from less than one-quarter a decade ago.
On September 27, 2007, a headline in The Commercial Appeal, the city’s biggest newspaper, announced a dubious honor: “Memphis Leads U.S. in Violent Crime.” Local precincts had been seeing their internal numbers for homicide, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery tick up since the late 1990s, starting around the time Barnes saw the first dead car. By 2005, a criminologist closely tracking those numbers was describing the pattern as a crime explosion. In May of 2007, a woman from upscale Chickasaw Gardens was raped by two men, at gunpoint; the assailants had followed her and her son home one afternoon. Outraged residents formed Citizens Against Crime and lobbied the statehouse for tougher gun laws. “People are concerned for their lives, frankly,” said one county commissioner, summarizing the city’s mood. This March, a man murdered six people, including two young children, in a house a few miles south of Old Allen Station.
Falling crime rates have been one of the great American success stories of the past 15 years. New York and Los Angeles, once the twin capitals of violent crime, have calmed down significantly, as have most other big cities. Criminologists still debate why: the crack war petered out, new policing tactics worked, the economy improved for a long spell. Whatever the alchemy, crime in New York, for instance, is now so low that local prison guards are worried about unemployment.
Lately, though, a new and unexpected pattern has emerged, taking criminologists by surprise. While crime rates in large cities stayed flat, homicide rates in many midsize cities (with populations of between 500,000 and 1 million) began increasing, sometimes by as much as 20percent a year. In 2006, the Police Executive Research Forum, a national police group surveying cities from coast to coast, concluded in a report called “A Gathering Storm” that this might represent “the front end … of an epidemic of violence not seen for years.” The leaders of the group, which is made up of police chiefs and sheriffs, theorized about what might be spurring the latest crime wave: the spread of gangs, the masses of offenders coming out of prison, methamphetamines. But mostly they puzzled over the bleak new landscape. According to FBI data, America’s most dangerous spots are now places where Martin Scorsese would never think of staging a shoot-out—Florence, South Carolina; Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; Reading, Pennsylvania; Orlando, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee.
President Obama will deliver the commencement address at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, the White House announced Tuesday.
The school edged out hundreds of applicants in the Race to the Top Commencement Competition, an annual contest aligned with the president’s education initiative that rewards schools for “promoting college and career readiness.” The graduation ceremony is May 16, according to the White House.
“Booker T. Washington High School proves what can be accomplished when students, teachers, parents and administrators come together to support achievement in the classroom, and I’m looking forward to delivering the commencement address at this extraordinary school soon,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.
According to the White House, the school’s graduation rate rose to 81.6 percent in 2010 from 55 percent three years earlier. Along the way, the school added separate “academies” for male and female freshmen as well as A.P. classes.
Virtually all of Booker T. Washington’s students are African-American, and 98 percent are eligible for free or reduced lunch, said Quintin Taylor, the spokesman for Memphis City Schools. When the city razed the nearby Cleaborn Homes housing project last month, citing crime and blight, 20 percent of the students lost their homes and were scattered around the city. That fact is highlighted in a video submitted by the school for the competition.
“The community that they’re in, there’s poverty and there’s crime. It’s an inner-city American neighborhood,” Mr. Taylor said. ”Despite the circumstances and surroundings, they have been able to achieve at a high level.”
Wilson, with a GPA of 4.8, graduates about 18 months after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the city schools $90 million for improving teacher effectiveness and just more than a year after Tennessee won $501 million over four years in the federal Race to the Top competition."BTW is easily the poster child for reform efforts that take a few years to get firmly rooted and then bear fruit," said John Barker, head of research and evaluation for Memphis City Schools.Among the reform efforts: improving the quality of who gets hired to teach and be principals in MCS, and then placing those people where they can do the most good.The system has also been casting a wider net for new teachers, doubling the number of Teach for America positions and hiring earlier in the season to increase the chances of getting the most talented prospects.It is offering incentives to faculty and staff at schools that meet graduation, test score and teacher-retention goals.In high priority schools such as BTW, principals can get $4,000 per year for meeting recruitment and retention goals, plus payoffs for student achievement.Principal Alisha Kiner received $5,750 in bonuses this year for gains Wilson says helped her.The biggest benefit was "the chance to take Advanced Placement courses.""They really do boost your academics up. ... It really does make a difference," Wilson said.Students that pass the five-point final exam with a 3 or more typically get college credit.Three years ago, BTW had one AP class. Today it has three, and Wilson took them all.Since 2008, when Supt. Kriner Cash arrived, MCS has added 60 AP sections, beefing up offerings in schools such as BTW and Hamilton High where there had been few if any AP choices.
In explaining why Booker T. Washington High School won the Race To The Top challenge to earn its commencement speech Monday from President Barack Obama, the White House cited statistics of various school achievements.But anyone who watched the videos submitted by finalists could see elements in BTW's entry that numbers cannot measure -- passion, motivation and, quite clearly, an enthusiasm for Obama.When Obama comes to Memphis, the moment will take on a meaning even larger than that usually associated with a presidential visit.The nation's first black president will be visiting, for the first time since his 2008 election, one of the most important cities for African-American culture, achievement and history -- and engaging a high school with its own historic and symbolic significance for the city.Rev. Noel Hutchinson is the big, wryly funny pastor of First Baptist Church-Lauderdale, which sits catty-corner from the high school and where, photos indicate, some of BTW's first graduations were held. His job is to help people see, as his church bulletin for today puts it, "what God can do."But this week's "marvelous reality" is such that, Hutchinson says, it "boggles the mind.""As the first black president, he symbolically represents all the hopes and dreams many of us as a people have for ourselves," Hutchinson said. "He embodies great success and the great symbolism of one who came up through many challenges to become the president of the United States. And now he is coming to a neighborhood in one of the poorest ZIP codes in Memphis that in recent years has been been consistently overlooked."That in and of itself will do great things to shape self esteem for generations to come."To understand Obama's popularity in neighborhoods like BTW's, consider the voting in the 2008 election contest with Arizona Sen. John McCain. There were 1,077 votes cast for president at the nearest precinct, Georgia Avenue Elementary -- all but four for Obama.In all, there were 15 precincts in the city of Memphis where Obama received 99 percent or more of the votes, and 115 precincts that gave him at least 90 percent of the vote. And while the city in general and black voters in particular traditionally vote for Democratic candidates, the support for Obama was of another order of magnitude -- he carried Shelby County by 110,412 votes, or about 52,000 more than Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's margin here in 2004."He is coming into a community that is proud of his achievements and appreciative of his hard work," Hutchinson said.U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen said polling of Memphis voters has shown one unerring consistency -- Obama receives 90-plus percent approval ratings among African-American voters."He's an iconic figure in American history and an iconic figure in the African-American community," said Cohen, who often refers to the Obama family as the "Kennedys" of the 21st century. "His popularity is unsurpassed."
Oh, and don't forget what we already mentioned: 98 percent of students at Booker T. Washington get free lunches.
But Mein Obama rushes to Memphis for a photo op with Black students who rely on donations from billionaires and tax payer money to subsist.. The Disingenuous White Liberals (DWLs) in the media will probably cry over this wonderful moment, and African spirituals will be belted out by Black people in choir robes and every Black person whose name is called to receive a diploma will have their extended family yell loudly in appreciation for this historic moment.
But Those Who Can See will know the truth. Each moment that passes brings us inevitably closer to the collapse of Black-Run America (BRA), an eventuality that will play itself out regardless of what you do.
“If we don’t act now, there might not be much of an America left to defend,” said the Secretary of Defense in Independence Day, after the alien invaders destroyed more American cities..
Those Who Can See don’t have to act, nor will alien invaders have to destroy major American cities. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Detroit, Batimore, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis and dozens if not hundreds of other cities have been destroyed by a population that still supports Mein Obama with 90 percent approval ratings.
Oddly, the male population of that same voting group is nearly 50 percent unemployed.
It’s going to be a long summer.
So enjoy the photo op in Memphis, Mein Obama. We're sure you'll give an outstanding speech that MSNBC, CNN and other news outlets will declare magnificent, moving and ground-breaking.
But Those Who Can See know the truth. Those Who Can See look upon Memphis and realize its morose state is just a reflection of nature. The Tuohys invested millions - even forsook their own kids - to help Michael Oher succeed and ultimately play for a sub-par Ole Miss football team (or, as we might more aptly call the school that so easily gave up many of its traditions, the University of Northern Mississippi football team).
It's our hope President Obama devoted some of his speech to mentioning The Michael Oher Act, the one piece of legislation left that could improve the conditions of future Black communities. If not, his speech will have been in vain.