MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - State and local legislators along with organizations stood on the steps of AFSCME Local 1733 to sign the Humanity Pledge Friday morning. The pledge is aimed at denouncing racism in the state.
“It’s a health crisis to anyone who has lived as long as I have,” said State Representative from Memphis Barabara Cooper.
Cooper is 91 years old. She joined other state and local officials in signing the Humanity Pledge, which seeks to eliminate racial discrimination.
Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner also signed the pledge.
“The county commission did take up this issue and we passed a resolution under Director Haushalter with the health department that racism was a health epidemic,” said Turner.
The pledge states that racism causes high levels of emotional distress, threatens human development and disrupts the mental health of both perpetrators and victims of racial injustice.
The signing of the pledge comes days before the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in Memphis. He was in the city to support AFSCME sanitation workers.
“This is the place, these are the people that he came here for in 1968,” said Gayle Tyree, Executive Director of AFSCME Local 1733.
On Beale Street, visible from the AFSME steps, is a location where shops and restaurants will be built called “The Walk.”
“There’s no reason why African American businesses and women-owned businesses shouldn’t have a decent percentage, and when I mean decent, we’re talking 40% and 50% of what’s going on in this project not only for the construction of it but also in perpetuity,” said Turner.
It’s the same kind of action that the Humanity Pledge encourages all government officials to take up in their own communities.
Members of the public can sign the Humanity Pledge online at https://www.progenyplace.org/humanitypledge.