Memphis Urban League

Pamela Lee’s Story


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In my early 20’s I started hanging around family and childhood friends that were drug dealers.  This was in the late 80’s early 90’s. It started off as a glamorous lifestyle, full of fun and fast money. Then in the early to mid 90’s, the hustle became violent and dangerous.  I have plenty of painful memories from that time in my life.  One of the most painful was seeing my lifelong friend with a large portion of his head shot off.

My cousin and 3 of our childhood friends were riding in his drop top mustang.  Several guys approached them as they were pulling up to the house.  The guys were robbers dressed as undercover police with large guns.  When the guys realized that it was a setup, they sped off.  The robbers chased the car, shooting over 40 bullets.  When the car stopped, our friend was slumped over with his brains on the back of my cousin’s shirt, and blood all over the back seat and the floor.  He was shot with an AK-47 several times and died on the scene.  To see his brains out and watch him take his last breath was more than devastating!  This was around the time I realized I needed to make some changes in my life.

I realized I needed to make some changes in my life…

I had 1 child then, my son LaDarius was about 3-4 yrs old. Every weekend all the drug dealers would meet up on our street and have a kind of street party.  One weekend I had my son out in the street with us dancing.  He was having a blast.   My son looked up to me and said “Momma, I wanna be like them when I grow up. I want 2 beepers and a Jerri curl”. I knew exactly what that meant.  He was seeing these drug dealers as role models.  It made him want to be one of them.  That resonated in my soul, and I realized that was not the life I wanted for him.

One day I prayed to God and I said “God, if you are real, show me. I want to know you for myself”.  And just as I asked He did!  He spoke to me concerning my life and said He didn’t create me to be the person I was.  He said He had more for me, but in order for me to receive it, I would have to give up all that I had received from the hustle life.  He said I could not keep anything.  It was a hard choice but I did as God instructed. I had nothing.  I was on welfare, section 8 and food stamps.  While on welfare, I knew that was not the life I wanted to live.  I always wanted to be a businesswoman.

God, if you are real, show me. I want to know you for myself…

I decided to attend school through the Welfare to Work program.  I chose The Memphis Urban League Computer Training Program.  My sister had also attended and spoke very highly about it.  Once there I knew that was the beginning of something great!  Not only did I learn computer skills, but we had to dress professional every day.  I learned business etiquette, how to dress for interviews, how to speak properly, how to properly interview, and how to research the company before an interview, among other things.  I was excited to learn so many new and wonderful skills. This environment fit me, it felt right. Not only did The Urban League help me in my professional life, but I also met one of my best friends there, and we are still friends to this day… she also works for me.

Not long after graduation, I got the job of my dreams in an office.  I got hired at The Postal Employees Credit Union.  This allowed me to not only use my computer training, but my business etiquette training, along with other skills that I received from The Urban League.  I loved that job and worked there for about 10 years.  I knew I wanted more.  Using the research skills I’d received from The Urban League, I started researching and teaching myself about entrepreneurship.  I decided I wanted to own a child care center.

There was no or very little access to the internet back then so I went to the library and researched.  I went to seminars and read newspaper articles and bought books on personal development.  It took me 8 years of research and many rejections before I finally got a yes and bought Cooper Cottage School in the Historic Cooper Young Community.  I am proud to say that I have owned it now for 18 years!!  I have created job security for many throughout the years including my dad (retired), my mom, my sister, and my brother who are all presently employed there.  I give The Memphis Urban League Computer Training Center credit for creating the foundation I needed to acquire my dream.  If I had not taken the opportunity in The Welfare to Work Program and chose The Urban League, I’m not sure where my life’s path would have taken me.

Today, I am a motivational speaker, sharing my life’s journey with women and young people with the hopes of letting them know that all things are possible to them that believe.  If you can believe it, you really can achieve it. I’m living proof.  I encourage them to take those positive opportunities that are presented to them.  Use these opportunities to improve or change their circumstances.


If you can believe it, you really can achieve it…

Today I honor God for my entire life’s journey. I’m thankful to Him for all of my experiences.  These experiences molded me and gave me a determination that I may not have had.  These experiences led me to The Memphis Urban League Computer Training Center.  The changes that The Memphis Urban League Computer Training Center extended to me is perpetual.  I am now the mother of 3. I have taught each of my children entrepreneurship.  Today, I’m not only working to create a legacy but also to create generational wealth.

So, I say thank you to The Memphis Urban League Computer Training Center. More importantly, I say thank you to God for all my many blessings and making my crooked places straight.  Because God has blessed me, it is my desire to continue to motivate women and young people beyond their present circumstances and into their greater self.  For them to be all that God has created them to be, and for them to be a living example of how you can change your negatives into positives.


Memphis urban league

Pamela lee

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