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VOL. 132 | NO. 51 | Monday, March 13, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Calipari's Return, Moss, McDowell & Stewart and Unemployment Up

By Bill Dries

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So John Calipari could be coming to town with his Kentucky Wildcats for the NCAA Southern Regional March 24 and 26 at the Forum. Aside from that local reminder of the long memory sports slights can have in our city, the regional in Memphis looks to be a big concentration of great college basketball in a city that hasn’t had a whole lot to cheer about recently on that front or the professional front.

The University of North Carolina plays Texas Southern in the opening rounds annouinced on Selection Sunday. Other South openers: Arkansas plays Seton Hall. UCLA plays Kent State and Calipari’s Wildcats play Northern Kentucky. All of that on the way to the semifinals in Memphis.

Back to Calipari, he will be the subject of an episode of the excellent ESPN documentary series “30 For 30.” It is called “One and Not Done” – really. And Derrick Rose is featured prominently. It premieres April 13.

A new television weather phrase to go with “wintry mix” and “precipitation.” Drum roll please – “embedded snow.”

There is a dead-end street in North Memphis called Waterworks Avenue. It’s not much as streets go – not very long and not very wide. But Sunday afternoon a group of people gathered there to remember something horrible that happened 125 years ago.

Some of the same people gathered last week at Second Congregational Church in South Memphis, also to remember the 1892 lynching of three black men who ran a co-op grocery store at Mississippi and Walker called Peoples Grocery.

The violent deaths had profound implications for American history. A Memphis school teacher and writer named Ida B. Wells became an internationally recognized force in opposition to lynchings – chronicling them and daring to speak out against the mob violence that white elected leaders either turned a blind eye to or argued were necessary from time to time.

When we last met here, there was to be a local protest as part of a weekend of protests nationally around the Dakota Access Pipeline. And the city had refused to grant a permit for the Friday evening march. The march from Beale Street Landing to City Hall drew a group of about 100 people and despite no permit, police did not try to stop it. In fact, they stopped traffic on Riverside and other intersections along the route.

Many of you were on Beale Street Saturday for a Saint Patrick’s Day parade a week ahead of St. Patrick’s Day by the calendar. Memphis wasn’t the only city where this happened. Although I am still scratching my head about how the lettuce spread liberally around Beale Street comes into play with the tradition. Nevertheless, there will be more observances this coming weekend and you still have the chance to be Irish at least for a day.

The Week Ahead column has many reminders that spring is just around the corner including a spring hike next weekend in T.O. Fuller State Park for those of you intrigued by our cover story of a week ago on this beautiful, scenic and hilly part of southwest Memphis. Otherwise HENDRIX.

Start ups and accelerators are for veterans too. And Start Co. is making an effort to reach out to veterans specifically with a workshop later this month. Meanwhile, a couple of start ups that have been through Start Co. are making some progress including an audio engineering start up now working with Avid Technology. And seed funding announced for Homey, the mobile app that helps to organize household chores.

New unemployment figures for Shelby County in January show an increase from last year at this time of one percentage point to 6.3 percent. Make that rate 7 percent in Memphis, up from 5.8 percent a year ago. The high and low points across the state are Williamson County with a 3.9 percent unemployment rate and Lake County to our north with 11.3 percent unemployment.

What do you think of when someone talks about philanthropy? It might be the list of names that is recited dutifully before a PBS program or foundation members gathered around a table making decisions about who and what to donate money to. Or it might be a grant writer in a cubicle filling out paperwork to get to the table of decision makers at the foundation.

For some time now philanthropists have been trying to shake that image and tap into the energy of younger Memphians who probably don’t have money to give or the patience for a lot of meetings but who can volunteer time.

The cover story in our weekly, The Memphis News, by Don Wade looks at the millennial-baby boomer balance in Memphis philanthropy. For all of the focus on how much of a historical problem poverty is in Memphis – and rightfully so – the roots and tradition of philanthropy run deep in Memphis.

The Memphis News Almanac: Marcus Winchester writes, paying the toll on the West Memphis side of the Harahan, Garrott at NBC and Melissa Etheridge in South Main.

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