‘We need this’: Resident calls for resource center

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, September 10, 2022

Brookhaven resident Roy Smith appeared before the Board of Aldermen to ask again for a Community Education Empowerment Resource Center.

Smith first brought the idea to the board in the spring.

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“We need to allocate funds to build a Community Education Empowerment Resource Center on this side of town, incorporating a Black History library, for both black and white kids to understand our history,” Smith said in April.

“I grew up in Brookhaven, and witnessed and lived the struggles,” Smith said. “Nothing will grow unless you plant a seed. Plant seeds while these children are young. They’ll be better students, who become better responsible adults. Responsible adults become better parents, who become better citizens, who become a better community and a better society.”

“It’s time to break the cycle of poverty and social degradation. We have a moral, civic and spiritual obligation to ourselves, our families and to one another,” Smith said. “It’s time to big-minded and big-hearted for our struggling community.”

Tuesday, Smith appealed to the board to act on the matter.

“I’ve been black a long time. These people have been black and poor. They feel double-trapped. They’ve been black and poor and sold out down the river. They feel triple-trapped. We need a black community center to educate young black males,” he said.

The appearance of the east side of town, starting at the railroad tracks, is “totally unacceptable.” A community center would help improve the look of the area, and give its residents something to be proud of, Smith said.

“They don’t have to be robbed of dignity because they’re black and poor,” said Smith. “I’ve been talking about this for months and I’ve heard not one serious, meaningful proposal for (it) made on the board.”

“You’ve heard suggestions,” Ward 2 Alderman Shannon Moore said.

“We need this resource center.”

“I agree 100 percent,” Moore said.

“I rest my case,” said Smith.

As representatives from two companies made presentations to the Board during the rest of the meeting, Moore asked each if searching for or applying for grants to help fund such a center was under their ability to accomplish.

Larry Day, of Daylight Capital Advisors, said as a financial advisor for municipalities, he could help them decide on options and navigate the legal aspects of it.

Cornerstone Government Affairs lobbyists Elliott Flaggs and Drew Maddox said they could help point the city to available resources on state and national levels. Both companies asked the city to consider their services and left information to be reviewed.