I am a lifelong Memphian who was raised in South Memphis. My home was right in front of the former South Side High School, and my grandparents lived next door to Ben and Francis Hooks and her parents on Edith Avenue.
I grew up playing outside, walking to my grandparents’ home from church and school. I’d walk from Booker T. Washington High with my classmate to the home of my high school sweetheart’s parents in what was then LeMoyne Gardens. I attended LeMoyne-Owen College, going to games and parties on campus and in the community. I always felt safe.
But that sense of security has been challenged over the years. My mom and I were robbed in our driveway my senior year. I saw two teens get shot and killed outside of my front door. My high school had a reputation for violence. The places I went grew more “secure” with guards on parking lots, buzzers on doors. Security systems became a way of life. I learned to be more cautious, less carefree.
Today I live in Whitehaven. My neighborhood was hit by car vandals a few years in a row. And yet I still feel safe. I walk my dogs, ride my bike, go to movies, evening worship. I do not allow fear to drive me. I am cautious, but I do still feel safe day and night in my hometown. I have traveled and visited places throughout the country and a few places around the world. In comparison, I feel safer here than 90 percent of those other places.