entrepreneurship empowerment camp

The urban league i know

By Jerome Robinson

This article is being brought to you by cityCURRENT, Get Involved & Power the GOOD!

I remember in my early twenties seeing the Memphis Urban League for the first time.  I had no idea what it was or what it was about. It was there in my thirties, it was still there in my forties, and now I am fifty-one and I got a call to work on something for the Memphis Urban League.  I had no idea how to get started.  I knew nothing about them.  I googled them and I still didn’t learn much.  I got to meet the board of directors and the executive director and while they all seemed like really nice people, I still could not figure out who they really were.  Several race related issues hit the news and I expected to see someone from the Urban League in the news taking a stand, but that didn’t happen.  People around me talked and would give their opinions of what the Urban League was doing or in most cases not doing.  I sat down one day with executive director Tonja Sesley-Baymon and in my overly transparent way, I shared way to much of my personal story with her.  Tonja had a wall up around her, she seemed a little disconnected.  So I was starting to ask myself, who really is the Memphis Urban League and what do they do?

The JustMyMemphis Fun Crew started working on a new website for the organization and we shot some short videos to help promote them.  I was not there for the shoot, so while watching an interview of Tonja Sesley-Baymon I saw something I had not seen before.  Her “Why” showed up.  She had lost her brother.  He needed help, he wanted help, but ultimately he did not find the help he was looking for and as a result Tonja lost a brother, the community lost the gifts this young man was yet to share, and our city lost another piece of its soul.  But for Tonja, his lost would create a power that lives on today not just in her but in the Memphis Urban League.  For me, this was the moment I learned who and what the Urban League was all about.  So I went to work, looking for for stories to share about the work being done.  I had not seen the impact yet but now every time I step in their office I feel it.  There is a spirit of growth and development of those without voices, without hopes, and without directions.

The Fun Crew went behind the scenes of a program Mr. Barry Jackson had been working on.  Barry is the Workforce Economics & Development Specialist – Save Our Sons Facilitator for the Memphis Urban League and graduation was coming up for his Youth Entrepreneurship Empowerment program.
We spent a couple days at the Urban League headquarters just capturing what was going on with this group of young people that had devoted their summer to learning how to be entrepreneurs instead of just a summer of school break.  I wasn’t there to see the program in person.  The Fun Crew was though and the video below is the result.  I have to tell you, I am a fairly emotional guy at times.  My heart takes over and then come the tears.  I missed the lesson that guys don’t cry!  So when I saw this video for the first time, yes I got a little emotional.

Young entrepreneruship empowerment camp

This was the Urban League I know.  The work they do is changing lives, but almost no one could see that.  Not because it wasn’t being done.  But because our city, our communities, our world is so focused on the negative.  We are focused on talking about what isn’t getting done and as a result we miss the positive stuff happening right in front of us.  The young people that came to the Youth Entrepreneurship Empowerment Camp are talented young people but without the hope and polish and promise given to youth of other communities.  But at the Memphis Urban League these youth got coaching, training, styling, and then put in the spotlight.  The goal was to show them just a little of what is possible.  Give them a spark and allow it to blaze up into an amazing future.  This is the Memphis Urban League I know.  This is the organization that has been serving our city for 75 years.  I hope all of Memphis will look around and find ways to help support organizations like the Urban League.

At JustMyMemphis, the Fun Crew started asking this question one night over drinks, Whats Your Story?  Once I decided to ask that question of the Memphis Urban League, I realized that while we were not paying attention this organization was at the work of helping individuals and communities reach their full potential.  This is what a #BeAmazing organization looks like and I am so proud I get to help them in at least a small way!

cityCURRENT is a privately-funded catalyst for the Mid-South and Middle Tennessee. A team of more than 100 partner companies have come together to host FREE events, along with an array of positive-oriented media and philanthropic initiatives to enrich, engage and impact the community. Our mission is to #PowertheGOOD and we invite you to join with us.

justmy features

Mayoral Candidate Tami Sawyer Rally at Clayborn Temple

On March 9, 2019, Memphis mayoral candidate and Shelby County Commissioner, Tami Sawyer held a community rally to introduce her campaign platform and share her vision for the future of the city of Memphis with supporters.

418 National Parks in Three Years

Mikah is going to spend three years visiting every National Park Service site (418 sites to be exact) and he is ending his journey April 29th at the Washington Monument. He is inviting everyone to come out and celebrate!

Amazon’s Past Reveals the Future of FedEx

I was sitting down with a friend who works in sales at FedEx a few years ago and I brought up the question of Amazon replacing FedEx as a dominant player in shipping. My friend said that would never happen. FedEx isn’t worried about Amazon. At that time Amazon Prime was new. Amazon had just purchased a fleet of jets and trailers for shipping. A look at Amazon’s past was like the handwriting on the wall for me.

Time to #BeAmazing

Share Your Story Today!

We believe there is an amazing story just waiting to be told inside everyone.  Stories that inspire change, ideas, and action.  Some stories are painful, some are fun, and others are life changing.  BeAmazing and share your story today on JustMy!

Like and Share justmymemphis on Facebook Click Now!