Protests continued to erupt in Memphis and across the nation this month, as people called for justice and reform following the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery.
To draw attention to the deep need for reform in our own communities, a coalition of more than 150 black nonprofit executive directors — including ACE Awareness Foundation Executive Director Renée Wilson-Simmons — issued an open letter urging city and county leaders to correct police brutality, over-policing, poverty wages, subpar education, and systemic racism. The group, called Memphis Nonprofits Demand Action or MNDA, had given lawmakers until June 26 to commit to a series of action steps meant to address issues of police brutality, over-policing, poverty wages, subpar education, and systemic racism. On Monday, June 29, the nonprofit leaders called a press conference to report that so far, they’d received little substantive response from Memphis officials.
“Some [city officials] have responded with the language of good intentions, but no one has hit the mark,” said Sarah Lockridge-Steckel, co-founder and CEO of The Collective Blueprint. Lockridge-Steckel, who also organized MNDA, added that the coalition was still awaiting a detailed response from Memphis’s City Council, the Shelby County Commission, Mayor Lee Harris, Police Director Michael Rallings, Sheriff Floyd Bonner and District Attorney Amy Weirich.
The following is an excerpt from the letter issued on June 15, 2020:
“We see the direct impact of systemic racism and oppression daily. The community members our organizations partner with and serve are the direct targets of police brutality, over-policing, poverty wages, subpar education, and systemic racism. As the protests in Memphis have taken place, we stand in solidarity with the organizers and activists leading the charge.”
The MNDA committed to monthly public accountability and follow-up on the demands outlined.
For the complete list of MNDA demands, read the coalition’s open letter to city officials.