To the Editor:
As a longtime resident of Memphis, I was disgusted to read some of the comments in your article "And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street" (November 8th issue). What we are seeing in that area is "ethnic cleansing." Over the last 30 years I have watched the South Main district surrounding the Lorraine Motel go from bad to worse.
D'Army Bailey talks of prostitutes on the street and pimps in the lobby of the Lorraine and the problems of drugs and pushers. Did anyone try and help with these social issues? No. These problems were almost encouraged as a method of reducing the price of real estate, so it could be bought and refurbished. I believe the South Main neighborhood was recognized as an investment-boom area by people on the inside. If the area was populated by prostitutes, pimps, and pushers, why else would anybody consider buying it?
One by one the residents are being served notice. Who cares? The museum doesn't. The National Civil Rights Museum should accept itself for what it is -- a tourist attraction. It is completely irrelevant to social and moral issues.
Meanwhile, families are evicted and new art galleries and coffee shops open. If Memphis can find financial aid for these, surely it can offer assistance to those who need it. History will prove that Memphis has systematically abused the disadvantaged in this neighborhood while pandering to the needs and greed of the advantaged.
Calvin Woodard, Memphis
To the Editor:
My wife and I have been traveling through the Southern states for the last two weeks and our last port-of-call was Memphis, which we thoroughly enjoyed. I picked up a copy of the Flyer and read it on the plane home. I couldn't believe what I read.
In these days of trouble and bloodshed throughout the world, why would anyone, let alone a publicly financed museum, consider exhibiting violent artifacts such as James Earl Ray's gun? We tried to visit the National Civil Rights Museum but found it closed on Tuesday. I only wish we had taken time to speak with Jacqueline Smith and understand more about what she stands for. To protest for 13 years takes guts, determination, and focus. The fact that she appears to preach civil rights against the civil rights museum is paradoxical, yet it appears she has good grounds for her complaint.
Timothy Bertram Bates
To the Editor:
In a recent Flyer interview with Dr. Michael Schiefelbein ("Rejected By Jesus," November 1st issue) concerning a work of fiction he authored, the impression was given that Christian Brothers University endorsed his book.
At no time did I or any official of CBU give backing or support to this literary effort. The novel is not used in any course at CBU. While Dr. Schiefelbein is a tenured professor at CBU, this novel was written outside his duties at CBU. The views expressed in the novel are his and not the views of this Catholic university.
Brother Louis Althaus
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Christian Brothers University
To the Editor:
At a recent public meeting Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) representatives described the projected path of Interstate 69 through Midtown Memphis and an alternative eastern route outside the city. Aerial photographs of the proposed Midtown route showed that my lovingly restored 1912 bungalow home, along with a major portion of the Annesdale-Snowden Historic District, was slated for destruction. I registered opposition to the route and requested additional comment cards for neighbors not in attendance who wished to respond to the proposal. A TDOT official, with apparent irritation, allowed me only 2 extra comment cards and said the department would consider only comments made by meeting attendees.
As I explained why our wonderful historic neighborhoods should be saved, he responded that Mayors Herenton and Rout favor the Midtown route and carry great influence with TDOT. He added that I-240 would be expanded to eight or 10 lanes to handle the substantial increase in traffic. I expressed concern about the expansion's negative impact: decreased air quality, noise pollution, gridlock, increased traffic accidents, and damage to historic neighborhoods and sites such as Elmwood Cemetery. He replied that Tennesseans don't really care about those issues. They want the most direct route at the lowest cost.
Memphis residents have successfully opposed irresponsible highway construction in the past. We stopped the destruction of Overton Park and more recently defeated plans to bisect Shelby Farms. Please oppose the violation of Midtown by the I-69 project.
Jim Rice, Memphis
Correction: The November 8th issue's cover story ("And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street") stated that the National Civil Rights Museum's expansion would display samples of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s bloodstained clothing. The clothes to be displayed belonged to King's convicted assassin, James Earl Ray.
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