What was designed to be an event to honor the 1968 sanitation strikers turned into the City of Memphis and its leaders being “dragged” by CNN commentator and political analyst Angela Rye.
Before her appearance at the Orpheum Theatre for the city’s #IAmMemphis commemorative event Saturday morning, Rye met with local activists and advocates who have been on the ground fighting for causes such as #BlackLivesMatter, education and economic inequity.
The pre-speech meeting where @angela_rye talked to several activists. Here’s where she committed to give $5K to two local orgs. C3 Land Cooperative and Official Black Lives Matter Memphis chapter. #IAmAMan #IAmMemphis #MLK50NCRM #MLK50 pic.twitter.com/HS2q47Jmy1
— MLK50: Justice Through Journalism (@MLK50Memphis) February 24, 2018
Today @angela_rye, who had never met us before today, put herself and her coins on the line for the work we are doing on the ground in Memphis. Im still speechless.
— shay_d_lady (@shay_d_lady) February 24, 2018
It was all downhill — or should we say uphill — from there. Rye took her insight from the prescheduled meeting and delivered a message that surprised the city and the event’s organizers.
Come through @angela_rye come through!!!!! #IAmMemphis
— Andre E. Johnson (@aejohnsonphd) February 24, 2018
In the words of Blu Cantrell, Rye “hit ’em up style.” Her words were — as the church says — sharp like a two-edged sword.
“Is this the Memphis that Dr. King would have taken to the promise land?..if you want to honor his legacy don’t just dream, WORK.” @angela_rye #IAmAMan
— Jerica Phillips (@Jerica_Phillips) February 24, 2018
“Memphis, be true to what you said on paper,” said Rye before rolling down a checklist of unresolved issues city officials and civic leaders haven’t addressed while it promotes “tough on crime” policies.
Those familiar with Rye’s style — from her CNN appearances and her work with the Congressional Black Caucus — know she’s a hard hitter, familiar with speaking truth to power.
In an interview with The Commercial Appeal, Mayor Jim Strickland (13,000 Twitter followers) pulled a Mariah Carey on Rye (298,000 followers).
While Strickland feigned ignorance about who the city’s invited guest actually is, as shown in several posts and reactions on the interwebs …
Why am I not surprised that the Mayor doubled down on plantation owner-esque paternalism and defensive deflection? pic.twitter.com/75IhegQIMs
— Kenneth T Whalum Jr. (@kwhalum) February 24, 2018
… in the end, Rye kicked it with her crew at the famous Charlie Vergos’ Rendevous in Downtown Memphis, unbothered.
This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit reporting project on economic justice in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today.