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VOL. 10 | NO. 24 | Saturday, June 10, 2017

Freedom Fund Luncheon Features Critic of NAACP's Relevance

By Bill Dries

Print | Front Page | Email this story | Email reporter | Comments ()

Melissa Harris-Perry, the former MSNBC host who last month penned a New York Times op-ed challenging the relevance of the NAACP, will be one of the keynote speakers at the Memphis Branch NAACP’s June 24 Freedom Fund Luncheon.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY

HAROLD FORD JR.

Harris-Perry and former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. will be the keynote speakers at the event, which will mark the centennial of the Memphis branch. The luncheon is at 11:30 a.m. at the Memphis Hilton.

Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University and executive director of the university's Pro Humanitate Institute.

In her May 30 op-ed, she wrote: “Today, the NAACP carries the weight of history and burden of bureaucracy. But it does not seem willing to shed blood, literally or in terms of the uncomfortable work that characterizes effective activism. … These days, it is a political act to say a black life matters, to speak the names of the dead.”

Memphis NAACP President Deidre Malone specifically invited Harris-Perry after reading the New York Times piece.

“I think it is something we need to consider,” Malone said of the article. “We have to be comfortable taking positions that maybe five years ago we were not comfortable coming out and taking a position on.”

Malone became president of the Memphis branch in January and has mixed long-time local board members with new board members from movements and organizations that have become more visible in the last year of protest in the city.

The Memphis branch was founded in the summer of 1917 months after the lynching of Ell Persons who was burned alive when a group of men took him from a train on his way back to the city to stand trial for murder. They burned him alive as a crowd of 5,000 people watched.

James Weldon Johnson, a field director of the NAACP, came to Memphis to investigate the incident for the civil rights organization and urged his host, Robert Church Jr., to found an NAACP office in the city.

It was the first branch in the state of Tennessee and one of the first in the south.

Ford represented the city in Congress for 10 years before an unsuccessful statewide bid for the U.S. Senate in 2006. He now lives in New York and is a political analyst for MSNBC and CNBC. He also lectures at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Policy.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 8 52 151
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751
BANKRUPTCIES 37 157 618
BUSINESS LICENSES 12 77 276
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0