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MLK50: No Gain, Just Pain?

A local citizens coalition is making noise with a billboard that carries a strong message. It says when it comes to economic vitality and good jobs for African-...
MLK50: No Gain, Just Pain?

A billboard on Walnut Grove, near Tillman, is one of those electric billboards that changes every now and then. One of the ads that pops up says, “Advertise Here.” That’s what the Coalition of Concerned Citizens did.

The coalition was formed two years ago, following one of this city’s most visible protests on Interstate 40.

Al Lewis of the group says, “The coalition came together on that faithful Monday, after the meeting where the people shut the bridge down.”

Some of the issues that came out of those meetings following the bridge shutdown were a push for more jobs and better paying jobs. Lewis says it hasn’t happened, but he’s not surprised. Memphis was one of the poorest cities in the country in 1968 and is one of the poorest cities in the country now.

His groups billboard says, “Remember the past… deal with the present… MLK50… No Change.”

“I think people are tentative,” Lewis says. “Our politicians are tentative for calling it out like it is. They’ve been afraid. I understand that. But somebody has to say, ‘look I am willing to step out and call it and to take action to change things if necessary.’”

In the past week the Memphis Police Association and the Memphis Firefighters Association have claimed nothing has changed with the way the city deals with its employees. City officials call these comments not even close to the truth.

On jobs, the local NAACP President says things have changed.

Deidre Malone says, “I think over the last 50 years, we have had some movement. Can we do better? Absolutely, but you have, specifically in the African-American community more people have good paying jobs.”