BLACK CAUCUS: Where is the Morality with EDGE? | Written by Pastor Leonard Dawson
Local & National News | July 30, 2023
Its time South Memphis was paid back $35M, by the EDGE Board, at their next meeting. Local public leaders can make this happen, with advocacy and leadership, as exemplified by Commissioners Brooks and Sugarmon.

Written by: Pastor Leonard Dawson of Cane Creek Missionary Baptist Church

Where is the outcry from the Black Caucus and where is the morality regarding EDGE and the Depot? After personal examination of media accounts and recent County Commission proceedings, led by Commissioners Henri Brooks and Erika Sugarmon regarding the Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE), I have concluded that South Memphis, at the hands of EDGE, is the victim of significant direct public disinvestment.

I am a lifelong Memphian, Pastor of Cane Creek Missionary Baptist Church and am disappointed in this absence of local public morality. Over the last 10 years, neighborhood decline has accelerated in the impoverished South Memphis area and as an unfortunate consequence, Shelby County lost a state legislative seat, due to population loss in South Memphis. 

As I pastor my Church, I have been wondering why the decline? Then recently, to my astonishment, it was locally reported, that the impoverished South Memphis was the victim of public disinvestment, at the hands of the EDGE Board. 

Like so many in South Memphis, I don’t attend public meetings, as many of us are prevented from doing so, while at work, when public meetings are held. But while we in South Memphis may complain from time to time, most of us trust that our public tax dollars are being properly overseen by our elected and appointed representatives.  

But sadly, based on local reporting, our public dollars are not being properly overseen or administered. Media reporting went on to discuss how public funds generated from the sale of the former Army Depot property, administered by EDGE and originally reserved for revitalizing South Memphis, were spent just about everywhere else, other than where public support is desperately needed, in South Memphis. 

 In reality, South Memphis is the core city and adjacent to the very Memphis International Airport that services the entire globe!

 But why the public disinvestment in the impoverished core city and how in the world could that possibly improve the lives of Memphians? There are so many unanswered questions. Upon a local media request, EDGE would not respond on camera, to inquiries on their administration of public funds, once reserved for South Memphis revitalization. Further concerning, is that this public disinvestment happened in the backyard of the National Civil Rights Museum. 

 Where is the public accountability and morality? We are talking about $35M disinvested from the impoverished South Memphis area, that was supposed to be used for South Memphis revitalization. But revitalization never happened and public funds were instead spent in areas like President’s Island, and other more affluent areas that need supplemental assistance least, such as Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington. 

 Again, where is the morality? The absence of morality and public accountability explains to me what has happened to South Memphis and Memphis in general. On the other hand, its time South Memphis was paid back $35M, by the EDGE Board, at their next meeting. Local public leaders can make this happen, with advocacy and leadership, as exemplified by Commissioners Brooks and Sugarmon.  

 I look forward to more follow up reporting on this and other similar matters, as moral transparency and light is likely the only disinfectant against local decline. The only path forward for Memphis is a higher degree of public accountability and morality. Without it, decline will only continue. I am Pastor Leonard Dawson of Cane Creek Missionary Baptist Church. 



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