Friday, June 17, 2005

Five-Yard Penalty

Logan Young gets a six-month sentence, but appeal means case will drag on.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2005 at 4:00 AM

The criminal prosecution of football booster Logan Young Jr. was one of the costliest, most time-consuming, and possibly ill-advised efforts in the history of the federal prosecutor's office in West Tennessee.

And it isn't over yet. When it is, the government will have spent at least five years to get a five-yard penalty against Young -- who received a six-month prison sentence -- and strip two former high school football coaches of their jobs.

There was a heroic search for principle and meaning by the prosecutor, judge, and daily newspaper during the sentencing phase, but the best that any of them could do was to proclaim that the corrupt "underbelly" of college sports had been exposed -- something that must be obvious to any sports fan over the age of 10.

On the eve of Young's sentencing last week, the case was right back where it started, with a former Memphis high school football coach making broad accusations not subject to cross examination in the newspaper about illegal recruiting and a bidding war for defensive lineman Albert Means.

A bidding war, by definition, presumes that there were multiple bidders, but the investigation of Young did not produce a single piece of evidence leading to the indictment and prosecution of another booster, coach, or athletic administrator.

Nor did it clean up recruiting in Memphis or, as assistant U.S. attorney Fred Godwin suggested, restore faith in "the integrity of the public school system in Memphis." The only high school head coach to take the stand during the trial was Lynn Lang, Young's accuser and Means' former coach. Only one other Memphis player was brought to court as a potential witness, and he was withdrawn after a discussion out of the presence of the jury.

Lang is unemployed and living in Flint, Michigan, Godwin's home town. He is in violation of the terms of his probation, which require him to maintain employment. Unknown to the judge and possibly the attorneys, Lang was unemployed at the time he was sentenced to no prison time based largely on Godwin's plea for leniency. He is spending his time talking to reporters about the recruiting of Means in 1999 and 2000 by Alabama and six other schools. Most of what was reported last week, minus the names of specific coaches, was in the August 29, 2001, indictment of Lang and Milton Kirk.

Then there is Means, the crux of the whole case. In his opening statement to the jury, Godwin said, "This case is about the buying and selling of a young man." Others went so far as to call it "slave trading." Now Lang says Means and his family got roughly $60,000 of the $150,000 that a jury determined Young paid Lang. Means also cheated by having someone take his college-entrance exam for him and lied about it to a federal grand jury. When Means and Lang testified during Young's trial, there was no mention of any amount close to $60,000, only small favors such as Christmas presents and a tuxedo for the prom.

Young's light sentence said a lot about the case. Over two days, U.S. District Court judge Daniel Breen listened carefully to almost 10 hours of argument from Godwin, Young's attorneys, and several witnesses. Godwin wanted a prison term of at least the 24 to 30 months called for in federal sentencing guidelines. He argued that Means was a "vulnerable victim" who suffered "loss of freedom of choice of what to do with your life." Breen didn't buy it. The judge also ruled against Godwin's requests for a longer sentence based on Young being an organizer of the scheme and obstructing justice. When Breen brought the day to a close by ruling that Young could remain free on bond pending his appeal, the government was 0 for 4.

"I'm happy with what I got," said Young, who has never admitted guilt and wasn't about to start Monday. He made his plea for mercy based strictly on his nonviolent nature, lack of a criminal record, ties to the community, and poor health.

After the sentencing, Godwin declined to comment, stopping only to scold a reporter for Sports Illustrated for bringing a tape recorder into the courtroom, which is against the rules. Look for an indictment any day now.

I for one am glad the federal government has bulldogs like Godwin on their side. As noted in court, the decision to investigate the Means case was made in January 2001 by former U.S. attorney Veronica Coleman. Godwin was doing his job, and he did it well, more than holding his own against defense attorney Jim Neal, one of the best in the business. The time and talent spent concocting a case of public corruption against Logan Young will be put to a more worthy test in the ongoing Operation Tennessee Waltz.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Five-Yard Penalty

Logan Young gets a six-month sentence, but appeal means case will drag on.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2005 at 4:00 AM

The criminal prosecution of football booster Logan Young Jr. was one of the costliest, most time-consuming, and possibly ill-advised efforts in the history of the federal prosecutor's office in West Tennessee.

And it isn't over yet. When it is, the government will have spent at least five years to get a five-yard penalty against Young - who received a six-month prison sentence - and strip two former high school football coaches of their jobs.

There was a heroic search for principle and meaning by the prosecutor, judge, and daily newspaper during the sentencing phase, but the best that any of them could do was to proclaim that the corrupt "underbelly" of college sports had been exposed - something that must be obvious to any sports fan over the age of 10.

On the eve of Young's sentencing last week, the case was right back where it started, with a former Memphis high school football coach making broad accusations not subject to cross examination in the newspaper about illegal recruiting and a bidding war for defensive lineman Albert Means.

A bidding war, by definition, presumes that there were multiple bidders, but the investigation of Young did not produce a single piece of evidence leading to the indictment and prosecution of another booster, coach, or athletic administrator.

Nor did it clean up recruiting in Memphis or, as assistant U.S. attorney Fred Godwin suggested, restore faith in "the integrity of the public school system in Memphis." The only high school head coach to take the stand during the trial was Lynn Lang, Young's accuser and Means' former coach. Only one other Memphis player was brought to court as a potential witness, and he was withdrawn after a discussion out of the presence of the jury.

Lang is unemployed and living in Flint, Michigan, Godwin's home town. He is in violation of the terms of his probation, which require him to maintain employment. Unknown to the judge and possibly the attorneys, Lang was unemployed at the time he was sentenced to no prison time based largely on Godwin's plea for leniency. He is spending his time talking to reporters about the recruiting of Means in 1999 and 2000 by Alabama and six other schools. Most of what was reported last week, minus the names of specific coaches, was in the August 29, 2001, indictment of Lang and Milton Kirk.

Then there is Means, the crux of the whole case. In his opening statement to the jury, Godwin said, "This case is about the buying and selling of a young man." Others went so far as to call it "slave trading." Now Lang says Means and his family got roughly $60,000 of the $150,000 that a jury determined Young paid Lang. Means also cheated by having someone take his college-entrance exam for him and lied about it to a federal grand jury. When Means and Lang testified during Young's trial, there was no mention of any amount close to $60,000, only small favors such as Christmas presents and a tuxedo for the prom.

Young's light sentence said a lot about the case. Over two days, U.S. District Court judge Daniel Breen listened carefully to almost 10 hours of argument from Godwin, Young's attorneys, and several witnesses. Godwin wanted a prison term of at least the 24 to 30 months called for in federal sentencing guidelines. He argued that Means was a "vulnerable victim" who suffered "loss of freedom of choice of what to do with your life." Breen didn't buy it. The judge also ruled against Godwin's requests for a longer sentence based on Young being an organizer of the scheme and obstructing justice. When Breen brought the day to a close by ruling that Young could remain free on bond pending his appeal, the government was 0 for 4.

"I'm happy with what I got," said Young, who has never admitted guilt and wasn't about to start Monday. He made his plea for mercy based strictly on his nonviolent nature, lack of a criminal record, ties to the community, and poor health.

After the sentencing, Godwin declined to comment, stopping only to scold a reporter for Sports Illustrated for bringing a tape recorder into the courtroom, which is against the rules. Look for an indictment any day now.

I for one am glad the federal government has bulldogs like Godwin on their side. As noted in court, the decision to investigate the Means case was made in January 2001 by former U.S. attorney Veronica Coleman. Godwin was doing his job, and he did it well, more than holding his own against defense attorney Jim Neal, one of the best in the business. The time and talent spent concocting a case of public corruption against Logan Young will be put to a more worthy test in the ongoing Operation Tennessee Waltz. n

Friday, June 10, 2005

Hillary for President?

Not unless the Democratic Party has a secret death wish.

Posted on Fri, Jun 10, 2005 at 4:00 AM

What the hell are top Democrats doing playing footsy with Hillary Clinton? Do they have a secret death pact we dont know about? If they want to lose a third general election in a row, go ahead, run Hillary for president of the United States of America.
The reasons not to do such a thing are obvious to anyone not drinking the Clintonite Kool-Aid. Let me list just the ones that roll off the top of my not-so-bright head:
Hillary Moonies cite recent polls showing that likely Democrat voters would vote for Hillary if she ran. Yes, this is true ‹ but why? The answer is not reassuring. Its because the less voters see and hear of Hillary the more they like her. Which means the converse is true as well. Just get her out on the national campaign trail, on the news every night, in dozens of ads on TV, and in nationally televised debates and watch those poll numbers plummet. I will bet my first-born on it. Hillary grates on people. Maybe thats unfair. But its still true.
Hillary has triangulated herself into irrelevance with her hawkish support for the war in Iraq. She did this in order to show she could be tough, just like a man. All she really proved was that she could be a conniving politician, just like men.
Alls fair in love, war, and politics. So expect all that Kenneth Starr crap about the Clintons to make a big comeback. I know that Starr and his Dark Side minions failed to prove most of the allegations, but the Clintons own sloppy ethics provided the very fuel on which the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy ran. If Hillary runs for president, the Swift Boat Veterans will be back in a new form. They will pound her relentlessly. Unfair? You bet. Go tell it to John Kerry.
Finally, theres Bill. Imagine Bill as first husband, rambling around the east wing of the White House with nothing but time on his hands. How long would it be ‹ days, weeks, a month? ‹ before the stories about White House maids getting made began? Then the nation and the world will be again treated to four years of Live From the White House ‹ The Jerry Springer Show!
Look, I loved Clintons domestic policies. Hell, I profited from them. They were the best years of my life financially. They were the best years the nation had seen in decades. The trouble was that Bill Clinton is not one person, but three.
Theres Bill the Brilliant, who balanced the federal budget, built a giant surplus that could have been used to repair Social Security, reformed welfare, and kept us out of stupid-ass wars.
Theres Bill the Self-Indulgent, who could not resist exploiting the aphrodisiac of power on female targets of opportunity. The Bill that played with the truth like a cat plays with a mouse. The Bill who faced the world on TV as the bad little boy making lame excuses after being caught red-handed misbehaving.
Finally ‹ and more to the point ‹ theres Bill/Hillary, the package deal. They are co-dependents and mutual enablers. Bill has been president, and Hillary is not a bit interested in vying against Laura Bush and Nancy Reagan for the top slot at the First Lady Hall of Fame. She wants to be Americas first woman president. Even serial marital infidelity, exposed in fine detail to the entire world, could not break the bonds of this union. Its a Bonnie and Clyde relationship. Right or wrong, they will go down together, fighting. And they always attract a fight.
So, dont do it, Democrats. Instead of wasting time on Hillary, you should be searching right now for inspirational candidates. By the time the 08 general election rolls around, Bushs policies will have created such ruin, pain, and embarrassment that voters will be starved for a real statesman. Someone who can do for post-Bush America what Roosevelt did for post-Hoover America.
If the best the Democratic Party has to offer voters in 08 turns out to be Hillary Clinton, they deserve to lose ‹ again.
Stephen Pizzo is the author of numerous books, including Inside Job: The Looting of Americas Savings and Loans, which was nominated for a Pulitzer.

A Plodder Stumbles

Mayor A C Wharton feels the sting of his old friend Roscoe Dixon’s indictment.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 10, 2005 at 4:00 AM

Shelby County mayor A C Wharton didn’t ask Roscoe Dixon if he had any skeletons in his closet when he hired him as assistant chief administrative officer five months ago. After all, Dixon had helped Wharton move into his house and managed his campaign for mayor. They have been friends for 31 years.

Nor did the mayor hesitate or ask for an explanation when he demanded Dixon’s resignation two weeks ago, after Dixon was indicted along with John Ford and four other current and former state legislators in Operation Tennessee Waltz.

The ripple effect of the indictment of “Uncle John” on U.S. representative Harold Ford Jr.’s Senate campaign has drawn a lot of media attention, but what does Dixon’s indictment say about him and Wharton? Dixon is charged with extorting $9,500 from the FBI’s sham company E-Cycle Management in 2004, his last year in the Tennessee Senate. He served a combined 22 years in the Senate and House. His record was scandal-free but hardly distinguished. Tellingly, in the Tennessee Blue Book he listed his occupation as “consultant.” The only other self-described consultant among the 33 senators: John Ford.

“The biggest negative when I hired Roscoe was that for the first time in his life he was going to have a real job,” Wharton said in an interview Monday.

Wharton did not do a background check before hiring Dixon but did have someone question lobbyists and other lawmakers about him. The reports, Wharton said, were that Dixon was “not a superstar, just a good old plodder, someone who would just chug along, which was what I needed in that position.” The FBI knew better. Undercover agents had already made payoffs to Dixon through his bag man, Barry Myers, several months before Wharton hired Dixon. But the stakes were too high for anyone to tell the mayor.

Wharton, formerly a criminal defense attorney, said he had “a pretty good inkling that something was going to happen two weeks before it did” from some of his old colleagues. But he did not know who would be indicted. He demanded and got Dixon’s resignation the same day he was indicted and has not spoken to him about the case since then.

An in-house investigation has so far determined that Dixon “did absolutely no business for E-Cycle with county government,” Wharton said. Shelby County commissioner Michael Hooks, while admitting no wrongdoing, has acknowledged helping E-Cycle make a belated bid for county business earlier this year after Dixon was aboard. The indictment says Dixon and Myers conspired to help E-Cycle “beginning on or about July 30, 2004 and continuing thereafter until on or about May 20, 2005.”

As portrayed in the indictment, Dixon lives down to his reputation. He insists that his payments go through Myers. He files a bill to benefit E-Cycle in January 2004, but the details aren’t right so he “indicated to an individual that he wished to have faxed to his office the bill which was desired by E-Cycle.” When E-Cycle asks to have the bill withdrawn in March, Dixon doesn’t get that right either, and he has to be asked “what E-Cycle was paying him for” before dutifully pulling the bill a week later.

Such is the man Wharton hired nine months later for a job paying $101,000 a year.

Between greeting constituents and drinking his breakfast orange juice at a Burger King this week, Wharton wondered how deeply the corruption runs.

“I just came out of a grueling session with the legislature,” he said. “Sometimes when I was talking one-on-one it just seemed like they weren’t hearing, like there was an impenetrable wall between the two of us. I kept wondering, What am I missing here? I’m not saying they did not pass my bill because they were on the take. I am just saying this kind of thing will cause people to wonder if legislation passed that would not have passed or if there were good bills that should have passed that did not.”

A cloud hangs over the Shelby County Commission as well, with the possible double-whammy of more Tennessee Waltz indictments and an upcoming tell-all book by former chief administrator Calvin Williams.

Asked about that, Wharton — who is unflappable and about as impossible not to like as a politician can be — glanced up at a passing airplane and responded with a vintage Whartonism. “There’s a headwind, but sometimes that’s good because it allows you to get your plane up. Maybe we will have to work harder now. It may be a blessing in disguise.”

He expects to have a certified tax rate and budget by July 1st, right on schedule.

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Monday, June 6, 2005

Nuclear War

RACE lacks city permits to run its incinerator, and activist groups hope to keep it that way.

Posted By on Mon, Jun 6, 2005 at 4:00 AM

The radioactive waste incinerator on Presidents Island is about the size of two 55-gallon drums. Or as Radiological Assistance, Consulting, and Engineering (RACE) Center president Bob Applebaum describes it, “the size of a large barbecue smoker at Memphis in May.” On a recent tour of the facility, Applebaum told the Flyer the incinerator is 90 percent complete.

But after residents who live nearby began protesting the proposed incinerator, the Office of Code Enforcement said that RACE didn’t have the necessaary city special use permit. In fact, it turned out that RACE didn’t even have an occupancy permit from the city for its Presidents Island location.

Both permit issues will go before the Land Use Control Board on Thursday, June 9th. RACE also has applied for a permit to store radioactive material at a location on Trigg Avenue.

“We didn’t realize we needed a special use permit,” Applebaum says.

RACE, which specializes in reducing the volume of radioactive waste for disposal, has been working on securing the proper licenses for the incinerator from the state and county since 2003. The company now holds a construction permit for the incinerator from the Shelby County Health Department and an operations permit from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

In an article for the Downtown Neighborhood Association’s newsletter, city councilman Myron Lowery wrote that he was concerned that a company that couldn’t figure out which permits it needed is planning to operate a nuclear waste incinerator.

“I don’t see how it could have gone on this long without them knowing they needed a special use permit,” Lowry wrote.

Since the news of RACE’s proposed installation broke in February, activist groups have formed to fight the incinerator, which RACE claims will be used solely to burn low-level radioactive waste, such as carcasses of research animals and hospital waste.

Members of the Riverview Collaborative, the Sierra Club, and Memphis Truth worry about long-term damage as radioactive particles from the incinerator escape into the air.

“There are several food-processing plants on the island, and my fear is that if the ash escapes, it would contaminate the food,” says Kelly Fitzpatrick, founder of Memphis Truth, a group formed to fight the incinerator. Already, Memphis Truth has hired attorneys Saul Belz and Rich Fields, who are both experienced in activist issues, to look into possible action against the company if the Land Use Control Board and the City Council approve RACE’s permits. The group operates a Web site, MemphisTruth.org, which features links to informational sites on nuclear waste.

Members of the Riverview Collaborative represent the largely African-American Riverview neighborhood in South Memphis located close to Presidents Island.

“We’re worried that the constant output of radioactive material in the air could cause health problems, maybe short-term, maybe long-term,” says the Rev. Ralph White, pastor of Bloomfield Baptist Church and leader of the Riverview group.

Applebaum says these concerns are unfounded because the level of radiation released will be so low. “You’re exposed to about 350 millirems [of radiation] each year from naturally-occuring radon gas,” he says, adding that the air released from the incinerator is “scrubbed clean” while in the machine.

Sitting in RACE’s boardroom, Applebaum picks up a small test tube filled with a white powdery substance labeled “Radiation.” He pours some on the table and runs an instrument over it to measure the radiation. It begins beeping rapidly. Applebaum picks up a pinch of the powder and drops it on his tongue.

Then, sarcastically, he says, “There’s no way! You’ll die!”

He says the substance is Nu-Salt, a salt substitute that contains potassium chloride. Potassium is naturally radioactive.

But the activist groups aren’t buying it. Applebaum says he offered to let the Riverview group tour the RACE facility, but they declined the offer.

“They’re already operating out of compliance, and they’ve been cited several times [for labeling and storage issues],” White says. “We are just not for it, and no tour will change our minds.”

Friday, June 3, 2005

Celebrity Scandal?

Former friends play key roles in busting a political scandal.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 3, 2005 at 4:00 AM

Tim Willis and Calvin Williams used to be friends and business partners until they had an angry breakup. Now both of them are budding writers — and, boy, do they have some stories to tell.
Investigations of official misconduct and government-for-sale allegations are sending shock waves across Tennessee and have put both men in the news. Willis, a former county employee of the Juvenile Court Clerk’s Office and the Assessor’s Office, was working undercover for the FBI when he posed as a representative of a sham company called E-Cycle Management in secretly taped and recorded conversations with Senator John Ford. The meetings were part of a sting operation called the Tennessee Waltz. Ford and four other current and former state lawmakers were indicted last week, and Ford has resigned.
Williams, former chief administrator for the Shelby County Commission, says his upcoming book, How I Sold My Soul to the Devil: Shelby County Politics and Its Unforgiving Sins, will make an even bigger splash when it comes out this summer.
“E-Cycle is child’s play compared to what’s in this book,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “The things in the book are 10 times worse than what’s going on right now. You are going to be shocked.”
Of course Williams, who has no experience as an author or journalist, might be using the media to hype a book that hasn’t come out yet, and that could be a tough sell outside of Memphis in any case. But there is a case for taking him seriously. For one thing, the Flyer contacted him, and he was reluctant to do an interview. He was at the center of events in Shelby County government when rumors of corruption were running rampant, and he was scheduled to go on trial himself two weeks ago on state charges of official misconduct when the trial was abruptly aborted. And 20 years ago, another Tennessee political scandal involving clemency for cash was juicy enough to attract the attention of filmmakers and author Peter Maas and make a celebrity out of an obscure government employee named Marie Ragghianti, who was played by Sissy Spacek in the movie Marie.
Williams says he names names and gives dates in his book, which he plans to follow with a sequel. In light of the allegations of casual corruption and numerous payoffs to public officials in the indictments, Williams could very well have some hot stuff.
“No question, a lot of the things in this book are indictable,” he said.
Federal prosecutors would not comment when asked if Williams has testified before a federal grand jury investigating public corruption, although Williams himself made that claim several months ago after leaving the federal building.
Williams says E-Cycle Management, the sham company set up in the FBI sting operation, is mentioned throughout the book. He also said there is an entire chapter devoted to Willis, a likable if enigmatic political insider who has suddenly disappeared. A former colleague of Willis, Nashville public-relations specialist Joe Hall, says Willis was an aspiring screenwriter, and it would not surprise him if Willis is working on a screenplay right now. Hall’s former employer, the Ingram Group, was partners with Willis on the public-relations campaign on behalf of the Memphis Grizzlies and the Public Building Authority.
Williams says he fell out with Willis in their consulting business “because he had too many people with their hands in the cookie jar.” According to Williams, a current member of the Memphis City Council and a current member of the Shelby County Commission “were using him [Willis] as a bag man.” He would not name them but said he will in the book. He said he was aware that Willis was working with the FBI before that became public.
“I don’t agree with Tim’s tactics, but I understand why he did what he did,” said Williams. “You will always remember the name Tim Willis in this town.”
Willis’ former boss, Shelby County assessor Rita Clark, liked Willis, who worked for the office in the late 1990s on the 2000 property reappraisal.
“He seemed like a perfectly honest, nice young man,” she said. After Willis left the office and was working for Clark’s opponent, Shelby County commissioner Michael Hooks, in a campaign for assessor, Willis and Clark met at a party.
“He came up and kissed me on the cheek,” she said. “Then he walked across the room and said to somebody, ‘We are going to beat her.’”
A few years ago, Willis amiably told me I had presented an incomplete picture of him in stories I had written. We agreed to talk about it at my office the next week. I never heard from him again.

It’s a Woman Thing ... and Men Too

Sisterhood Showcase celebrates 10 years.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 3, 2005 at 4:00 AM

“I call this year’s showcase ‘10 years of yes I can,’” says Sisterhood Showcase founder and Grace magazine editor Tina Birchett. ?This shows that anyone who has a dream, is in the process of taking a leap of faith, or thinking about taking a leap of faith can make it.?

This week, the four-day showcase — full title: the Sisterhood Outreach Summit & Showcase — celebrates its anniversary with celebrities, physicians, and motivational speakers under the theme “A Reunion of Sisters.” In addition, this year’s showcase has an emphasis on men.

The showcase has continued to grow since its inception in 1996, Birchett says. At that time, the event was a small affair with the specific goal of reaching African-American women about health issues. The enthusiasm of participants led Birchett to hold the showcase a second year and to begin the quarterly magazine Grace.

“Everyone thinks that the showcase grew out of Grace, but it’s the other way around,” she says. “So many people were enlightened by that first show that they wanted me to coordinate the event each month, but there was no way to pull that off. So, I did the next best thing, a magazine, and made the showcase its signature annual event.”

But keeping this type of show unique was a challenge. In fact, similar events in other cities were unsuccessful or became little more than flea markets and weekend socials. To keep her event from losing its significance, Birchett refuses to use labels such as “expo” and “festival.” “I keep the word ‘showcase’ at the front of my brain at all times," she says. “And I measure all of the planned events by that standard. Is this a showcase event or an expo event?”

Birchett’s event is distinguished by its balance of entertainment and education. In addition to the annual men’s fashion show and concerts, this year’s showcase also brings a new partnership with Black Entertainment Television and the BET Foundation’s traveling health initiative. Panelists, including actress Vivica Fox and celebrity fitness trainer Jeanette Jenkins, candidly discuss everything from heart disease to HIV/AIDS during a two-hour seminar.

“We look at activities that have had measured success in local markets that focus on the concerns of the Africa-American community,” says BET Foundation executive director Lynda Dorman. “Women should come prepared to ask questions, then go the next step and enter the booths for health screenings.”

This year, the event has expanded to four days to include a publisher’s luncheon, a golf tournament, and a comedy show. Also on the list of new events is a Saturday-morning gospel service, a children’s area, and presentation of the Grace Award to four Mid-South women.

The 10th-anniversary year is also about men. Each year the event attracts about 20,000 visitors, with 15 percent of those being men. With returning host and actor Shemar Moore, a partnership with the 100 Black Men, and concerts by R&B performers Tweet and Temmora, Birchett expects male attendance to possibly reach 35 percent. Highlighting the men’s participation will be a march from Peabody Place to the convention center led by the 100 Black Men organization, followed by a forum on improving self-confidence, self-love, and self-image. If the men get tired, Birchett has created a lounge area for them.

For Birchett, there appears to be no slowing down. “For years, people have tried to get me to move the show from here to a larger city, but I believe in Memphis, “ says Birchett. “My continual dream and prayer was, If we could just make it to the 10th show. We have made it, and I do plan on an 11th and beyond.” n

The Sisterhood Outreach Summit & Showcase takes place June 2nd-5th at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. For a complete listing of events, visit SisterhoodShowcase.com. For more information, call 579-9333.

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Flyer Flashback

Looking Back at Flyer Story About a "Religious Freedom" Protest in Mississippi.

To celebrate the Flyer's 25th year, we're looking back on stories from past issues.

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