VOL. 131 | NO. 99 | Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Last Word: Behind Brown, Selling 128 Adams and Preparing for School's Out
By Bill Dries
It was a dark and stormy night. Well, dark but not really stormy – a little rain which is more than enough to activate all kinds of television mayhem and warnings that make your iPhone rattle and hum.
I was re-reading part of David Halberstam’s book “The Fifties” overnight, the part about the Brown v. Board U.S. Supreme Court ruling – completely unaware that Tuesday is the anniversary of the 1954 landmark ruling on school segregation by law.
It was just where the well-worn book opened.
Some 62 years later, it is interesting to read the behind the scenes machinations that produced a unanimous Supreme Court ruling.
It is also another demonstration of the power of words. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren wanted not only a unanimous court decision. He felt, according to the book, that it was just as important to have a singular defining statement from the court on segregation by law that would translate into action.
Warren probably didn’t foresee the action that was an already forming civil rights movement just a year before the Montgomery bus boycott. It was a movement that was based on the larger statements made by the highest federal court in the nation beyond school integration in that very decision.
Warren’s maneuvering and strategy fit most definitions of politics not wed to the Democratic or Republican columns and who is in which column. Yet, the result was hardly a transitory political jab of rhetoric at the other side. The ruling and its reasoning have a message that continues to speak to us today with both the force of law and the force of a political union that came together in this case, on this issue and just as quickly dissolved on other issues.
If you do more than just open books to any old page and read what’s there, you will find “The Fifties” has a lot to say about Memphis as a significant cultural force in that era.
Ahead of a Thursday court hearing, Federal Judge Jon McCalla has appointed a receiver to oversee the Warren and Tulane Apartments, the complexes owned by Global Ministries Foundation.
Global Ministries CEO Richard Hamlet and the Bank of New York, the trustee for bondholders in both complexes, agreed on the need for a receiver. But they part company there with Bank of New York filing a complaint in Memphis federal court earlier this month against GMF. That is what McCalla still has before him as the receiver moves to sell both properties.
The Memphis City Council did something it doesn’t do very often – sold a piece of city property at an auction during its Tuesday session. It wasn’t much of an auction. There was only one bidder and the bid was $2 million.
Meanwhile, the Overton Park Greensward controversy was present and accounted for in council chambers Tuesday as the council took a routine vote on the second of three readings of the ordinance that would set park boundaries in stone for all of the institutions in the park. Council chairman Kemp Conrad, meanwhile, confirmed he will delay a vote on third and final reading that would have been June 7. And that delay to the first meeting in July allows the ongoing mediation efforts over the greensward controversy to get the full measure of the effort’s June 30 deadline.
The school year has about a week left in it which means several school construction projects are cranking up – the biggest is the new Collierville High School.
One of the new schools is Whitehaven’s new Westhaven Elementary School.
The Shelby County Schools system meanwhile is about to make its case for more county funding to county leaders and it promises to be a discussion about more than line items. Some of the discussion between school board members and county commissioners is already underway a week ahead of the commission’s first committee discussion on all of this.
More South Front news in the form of a new bakery to be called Two Girls and a Whip. It’s on the ground floor of the under construction Printer’s Alley lofts with a promise of lots to watch for those who are into window shopping. Think Cake Boss through glass.
There is some experience in this venture in the form of partner Aldo Dean of Aldo’s Pizza Pies, Slider Inn and Bardog Tavern. So it’s more than pie in the sky – or cake in the sky … never mind.
The school year may be coming to an end. But the new class of the AgLaunch Accelerator is just getting organized with applications being taken through mid-June for the 15-week accelerator that starts August 15.
Age test: What do you subscribe to? If you answered Dollar Shave Club or Spotify or Netflix, here’s more in the Guerilla Sales & Marketing column by Lori Turner-Wilson on access versus ownership. If your answer was magazines and newspapers, you can read it too.