The line of men carrying signs down the Main Street Mall during the Friday lunch hour had to stop a few times so the men wearing heels could keep pace.
Some of the men wore bright red heels. Some went with conservative black to go with their suits.
The signs drew the attention of the lunch crowd initially in Court Square. Then the awkward gait of some of the marchers drew attention to their footwear.
A table of patio diners at Main and Madison burst into applause as the marchers slowly turned the corner near the University of Memphis Law School.
The first “Memphis Men For Memphis Women March” made its point about domestic violence. In some cases it was with a stiletto heel. The march was to raise awareness of the problem as well as the community collaborative headed by the Memphis Area Women’s Council to work toward solutions.
The marshals for the walk were Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter, a vocal advocate of a family crisis center and a court devoted to domestic violence cases, and Lee Wilson, the General Sessions Criminal Court Judge who oversees the domestic violence docket.
“It is a pervasive problem in our community that is not taken seriously enough,” Carpenter said citing 300 to 400 protective orders that are requested every day in the Shelby County court system. “We have one dedicated shelter that houses 23 women and children and that’s it.”
Wilson took on the domestic violence docket when he was appointed judge by the Shelby County Commission last year. There have been domestic violence dockets in the past. The past efforts were overwhelming for the judges who tried to keep them going without a lot of support from other entities.
Wilson said he needs more advocates in court to help the victims.
“We need more investigators too. We need more help for the victims,” he said. “We need programs for the children who have witnessed domestic violence. We need more programs for the offenders themselves.”
Between Wilson and Carpenter at the front of the march was David Wayne Brown, who along with Reid Phillips organized the demonstration.
“Domestic violence is the only major crime in the community that is steadily going up – on the increase. Everything else has been going down. And probably half of the cases aren’t even reported. So, that’s only what we know,” said Brown, who sported a pair of red high heels.
“We’re trying to bring a little bit of light hearted awareness to this issue,” he added. “And I’m about to take these shoes off because they are killing me.”
It’s worth noting that when the movie star Ginger Rogers died, more than a few people observed that while her dance partner Fred Astaire got a lot of praise, Rogers did everything he did backwards and wearing high heels.
As the weekend begins, there are a few dozen men in Memphis who have walked the cobblestones and cracked sidewalks of Downtown with a bit more appreciation of that eulogy.
The Court Square area will be busy into the evening. The Law Week kickoff starts at 5 pm in the square. The Daily News is proud to be a part of the event by The Memphis Bar Association.