Memphis United hosts event to promote positivity during KKK protests

Catherine Patton | MicroMemphis Reporter

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  1. Memphis United hosted The MEMPHIS UNITED People's Conference on Race & Equality at the Memphis Fairgrounds on March 30 during the KKK protests that took place downtown. 

    The event was put in place to promote unity and positivity while "confront[ing] the Klan's message without direct interaction," says Christine Dickason, Communications Intern with Campus Progress. 

    Numerous grassroots organizations set up booths in the Creative Arts Building, and encouraged visitors to become a part of the fight for equality. 

    The Memphis Bus Riders Union, promoting equality and fairness for all Memphians who depend on public transportation,  encouraged visitors to join in their fight. 
  2. Similarly, other organizations like 1 Universe, Inc., an international non-profit organization and The Vance Avenue Collaborative, an organization fighting to save a housing project from demolition, all promoted unity within the community and urged visitors to take action to help the community through their organizations. 

     In addition, various panel discussions called Community Discussions took place to inform the public about local issues as well as what can be done as a community to help avert social issues. 

    In the first panel discussion of the day, author David LaMatte, pastor and author Andre Johnson, activist Gail Tyree, and founding member of the Invaders, Dr. Coby Smith talked on the subjects of race, faith, and movements. 
  3. The overlying message of the panel revolved around the importance of unity. During the discussion, Andre Johnson urged the audience to unify because,  
  4. Johnson stressed the idea of power in unity by emphasizing that everyone has a voice, and realizing this could mean coming to common grounds. He said, 
  5. Along with the importance of unity, the panel also discussed what action can be taken by the community to support racial unity in the city. In response to a comment from an audience member about different racial groups in Memphis failing to interact with each other, Gail Tyree, a local civil rights activist, said, 
  6. She went on to emphasize the importance of starting to fight against prejudice and inequality at home. 
  7. Shortly after the Race, Faith, and Movements pane discussion ended, another panel discussion, Racial Structures and Racial Realities in Memphis, directly addressed the long-standing issue of the commemoration statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest at what was once the Nathan Bedford Forrest Park. 

    University of Memphis Professor of Sociology and discussion panelist Dr. Wanda Rushing addressed the issue of commemorative statues, namely the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, and acknowledged that remembrance of the past and an understanding of the lessons learned is more important than a commemoration statue. 
  8. Memphis United Rally Panel
  9. Reportedly, 1,500 people attended the event. Other activities took place including moon bounces for children and an Easter egg hunt with Mayor A.C. Wharton. There was also live music and food provided by food trucks. 
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