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Letter to the Editor – "My Visit to Memphis, January 23, 2024"

This Letter to the Editor was Published in the Memphis Mid-South Tribune, February 10-17, 2023

Letter to the Editor – "My Visit to Memphis, January 23, 2024"

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Memphis with my family for the first time and we were not disappointed.  From our stay in the classic Peabody Hotel watching the ducks march in/out with my granddaughter (5 times), to walking a few blocks over to Beale Street and BBQ, to dinner at the top of the Bass Pro Shop tower, with beautiful views of the twinkling Memphis bridges.

Add an afternoon with Elvis at Graceland, and a visit to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King memorial at the National Civil Rights Museum.  I froze in my tracks outside the MLK hotel site, as my memory flashed back to that fateful day in 1968 when I was just 11 years old. I will never forget that day.

In many ways, Memphis was like nearby Baltimore for me.  Islands of interesting sites, venues, restaurants, and friendly people surrounded by rundown, drug infested, crime ridden, seemingly hopeless neighborhoods.  Where adventuring out to explore the night life or even getting a cup of coffee is not recommended.

Both cities are run by Democrats and as demanded primarily Black politicians, Black city council members, Black run police departments and school systems.  And yet both cities have skyrocketing Black on Black crime, murders, and rapes, collapsing school systems and high levels of Black student dropouts, non-existent Black families and “missing” dads, and unacceptable levels of unemployment and poverty.  Both are also “welcoming” sanctuary cities for illegal aliens despite the negative impact on Black citizens.

Our last evening in Memphis ended with an exciting Memphis Grizzlies basketball game.  Good crowd, impressive venue, and a Grizzlies win! What stuck in my mind, however, was the reoccurring advertisement on the scoreboard screen for a Grizzles cosponsored Zoom event for Sunday, January 15.  It highlighted a huge picture of MLK and was titled “Intersection of Race and Sports – Confederate Culture on College Campuses – Remember, Celebrate, Act”.  Really?
I thought that was a strange topic to celebrate MLK Day, and especially to the predominately White Grizzlies’ crowd.  Why not focus on the real issues impacting all residents of Memphis and other major cities across the nation?  I decided to watch the event upon my return to Maryland.

The Zoom consisted of an all-Black panel - a host and four guests. All were well-spoken, educated, married with two parent families, in the 1% income bracket, and most importantly, all with an extremely limited background or in some cases knowledge of “Confederate Culture on College Campuses”. Moreover, I was not sure how this elite group could relate this “problem” to the average Black citizen trying to survive in Memphis or Baltimore.

Host – Marc Spears – Senior NBA writer
Guests – Danny Green – Grizzlies player; Grant Hill – former NBA star; Katrina Merriweather – U of Memphis Women’s Basketball Coach; and Cornel Watson -Photographer

Not surprisingly, only about 15-20 minutes was spent on the Confederate issue of how bad it is for black students to see Confederate statues or have classes in building with Confederate names.  Most of the complaining came from Host Spears, while the panel mostly tuned out.

No mention, of course, of the growing number of Black students on college campuses in general beyond the standard historical Black college route. Progress perhaps?  No mention of the distrust Black students have for White students on campuses because of the “Confederate Culture”.  And no mention of the Black-on-Black struggles taking place in our cities.
Most of the hour was spent talking about the wonderful lives, careers, families, and pedigrees of the guests.  Interesting presentations about hard work, family support, two parent families, focus on education and religion, and more, despite the “Confederate Culture and White Supremacy”. MLK would have been proud.

If I produced this Zoom, I would have focused instead on the progress made by Black citizens because of MLK and others. Then spent time getting the guests to talk about poverty, crime, and unemployment literally outside the doors of the Grizzlies Arena, asking each individually what they are doing about it. How Black neighborhoods in Memphis (and Baltimore) live in fear of murder and rape, poor schools and high dropout rates despite record spending on education, incompetent political leadership from the Mayors on down, single parent families and non-existent Black fathers, illegal aliens receiving better treatment than Black citizens, declining participation in religion, rampant drug use and more.

Why didn’t the elite Black speakers tell the audience that removing statues and building names does nothing but erase history.  That to succeed in life, generally, it takes hard work and dedication, an education, family and fatherhood, a support network, and religion and faith. Every ethnic and racial group in the country, including Black illegal aliens, is seemingly better off than the Black citizens. Time for a real national discussion, not about more government programs and handouts or White supremacy, but on the internal problems of the Black Community.  MLK would have wanted that.

Brad Botwin, Director, Help Save Maryland
PO Box 5742, Rockville, MD  20855