There were several important things going on at City Hall this past Tuesday. The city budget was the one that got the most attention. And we’ve got that all mapped out in our cover story in the new edition of The Memphis News.
But if you get a chance go to the city council’s website and pull up the council’s executive session. At the session was a group of approximately 120 Memphis City Schools students in grade 4-8 who are part of the school system’s Summer Leadership Camp. All boys dressed in white shirts, black pants and ties, the youngsters came to the council chambers to make the case for a program for absentee fathers.
The camp itself is an outlet for the boys coming to terms with either a tense or non existent relationship with their fathers. As they demonstrated, sometimes the relationship can be both.
And that is what made this a moment when a certain reporter immersed in the dollar amounts of budget season and the maneuvers for a transitory political advantage got a much needed reminder that there are more important and more profound discussions underway.
Seven of the boys made speeches to the council. Some weren’t even tall enough to be seen much above the podium and had to adjust the microphone to even be heard. Two read aloud letters they had written to their fathers that cut to the heart of the matter.
Listen and see it for yourselves. Here are a few quotes to give you an idea of the eloquence and emotion present in such young souls who, despite what we sometimes believe, see far more than we give them credit for or want to believe.
Brandon Taylor, Sherwood Middle School
You are not supportive at all. You have been out of jail for a year now and have accomplished nothing at all. You tell stories all the time. ‘His Mom puts him against me. His Mom will not let me call him.’ That is your fault. You never try to fix it. … When you were in jail you called nearly every day and wanted me to see you on Saturday. That’s your fault why you always say those things. You never try to fix them.”
Julian Christopher Anderson, Fairview Middle School
“I’m mad at you because of how you left me and my Mom. I still love you but sometimes I feel like you didn’t care about me and my Mother then. I feel like all you do is hang out with me just to impress me and my Mom. Although I love hanging out with you, it feels like you’re happy to see me leave. I know you love me, but why don’t you show it. You give me everything I want which I like, but not what I need. I love you so very much. … I know I won’t leave my kids. … I will be the best father ever.”