Q&A with Hubert Van Tol 

Former Executive Director of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center

The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center will be celebrating its 32nd anniversary with a gala on January 18th featuring former executive director Hubert Van Tol as the keynote speaker. The organization is currently focused on "economic equality, housing, criminal justice reform, homelessness, protection of civil liberties, food justice," and international issues, according to the center's website.

Van Tol was executive director from 1985 to 1995. During that time, the center's local work focused around pollution and the Community Reinvestment Act, a law enacted in 1977 to encourage banks to provide services to those in low- and middle-income neighborhoods and eliminate discriminatory lending practices.

He currently works in Rochester, New York, as the senior director for economic development at the PathStone Enterprise Center.

Flyer: What social justice issues were you dealing with when you were director?

Van Tol: The center was dealing with nuclear arms issues, [military involvement in] Central America, [apartheid in] South Africa, the Community Reinvestment Act, bank-lending issues, and environmental justice issues.

What was your favorite part of the job?

My favorite thing was the lending work that we did. The Community Reinvestment Act work gave us the ability to attempt to change some things at the neighborhood level, making sure access to capital and credit was a real possibility for people.

What neighborhoods did you work in?

It was really designed to try and get more loan dollars into North and South Memphis, but the community groups that were lending were working in specific neighborhoods and probably took advantage of the policy work and organizing like we did.

What's changed the most about Memphis since your tenure?

When we were leaving, the downtown redevelopment was beginning to take off, so in my last visits there, [I've noticed] there's a real difference in how downtown looks and feels.

You now work with the PathStone Enterprise Center in Rochester, N.Y. What do you do there?

The Enterprise Center is a community development financial institution. We make loans to small businesses and micro-businesses. We provide technical assistance and business training for the businesses that can't get loans from the bank.

How can you get people involved in their communities?

People are always interested in the community. It's just a matter of what issues most move them, what they have time to do, and [if] they see any hope of victories — winning something by getting active. I think that's the most important thing, providing people some kind of avenue to have at least some victories in their efforts to improve their community.

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • Makers’ Space

      New Crosstown Arts facility is like a gym for artists.
    • Green Decade

      Clean Memphis and Project Green Fork celebrate 10 years.

Blogs

Hungry Memphis

Zopita's on the Square to open Nov. 19

We Saw You

Indie Film Fest, Grilled Cheese Fest, Adapt-A-Door and more!

Hungry Memphis

Little Italy Opening Downtown

News Blog

Seven Vie for Vacant District 1 Council Seat

News Blog

Group of White Women Test Mall’s No Hoodie Policy

Hungry Memphis

The Nine Now Open

Fly On The Wall Blog

What’s Kids in the Hall Co-Founder Kevin McDonald Doing in Memphis?

Hungry Memphis

Gordon Ramsay's in Memphis to Save a Restaurant!

News Blog

TVA CEO Set to Retire in April

News Blog

Leaders Work to Revamp Public Art Guidelines

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Alexandra Pusateri

Readers also liked…

ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation