Before the August municipal election, MLK50 Visuals Director Andrea Morales set up a photo booth to capture the portraits of people going to the polls.

Want to see your money work? Today MLK50: Justice Through Journalism begins a major fundraising campaign that will double donations made through Dec. 31.

Click image to donate any amount you desire.

MLK50 was invited to be a part of NewsMatch, a national matching-gift campaign that drives donations to nonprofit newsrooms in communities across the United States.

Our goal is to raise $20,000 from individual donors in the next two months. If we do, NewsMatch will match that — for a total of $40,000.

Here’s what makes us unique: MLK50: Justice Through Journalism’s approach centers people, not power. We ask the tough questions and demand answers that residents can use to hold policymakers to account and create communities where they can thrive.

And here’s why you should give: And in less than three years, our small-but-mighty nonprofit newsroom, led by women of color, has had an incredible impact.

We make space for unheard voices and produce photography that celebrates and respects the humanity that is Memphis.

From our annual Living Wage survey to the public records lawsuit filed to force daylight into the secretive Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission to our partnership with the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica, MLK50 reports in a way that allows Memphians to make a better life for themselves and their families.

The first story in MLK50-ProPublica’s “Profiting From the Poor” series focused on the area’s largest hospital system, which sued and garnished the wages of thousands of poor patients, including its own employees, for unpaid medical debts. Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare subsequently said it would raise the minimum wage it pays employees, expand its financial assistance policy for hospital care and stop suing its own employees for unpaid medical debts.

The hospital has since erased the debt of more than 6,400 patients and reduced the bills of 1,000 more.

Moreover, we make space for unheard voices and produce photography that celebrates and respects the humanity that is Memphis.

The journalism we do here has and can continue to make a difference if you invest in it.

The theme of the 2019 national NewsMatch campaign is: “This News Can’t Wait,” an echo of the title of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1964 book, “Why We Can’t Wait.”

Larose Elementary School students, April 4, 2017, the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in Memphis. Photo by Andrea Morales for MLK50

Our readers feel the urgency, telling us MLK50 is a lifeline Memphis needs:

  • “For anyone who doubts the power of great journalism to change the future, file this under ‘case study.’” — Local writer
  • “MLK would be proud of the work you do.” — Memphis businessman
  • MLK50 is “telling the truth in a way that leads to real change.” — Memphis sociologist
  • “The press still has power.” — Metro businessman

Nowhere is this work as important as in Memphis, which is emblematic of our nation’s quest to deal with inequality. Ours is the second-largest poor metro in the nation. The city of Memphis is majority African-American. More than 40% of workers earn less than $15 an hour, and 1 in 3 black Memphians live below the poverty line.

This appeal is to those who can support the work, at any amount. If you start a recurring donation in November or December, NewsMatch will match the value of the yearlong donation upfront. For example, a new $10/month donation that starts before the end of the year will be eligible for a $120 match.

You decide the amount — but please give now.

This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power and public policy. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today. MLK50 is also supported by the Surdna Foundation, the Southern Documentary Project at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Community Change. Sign up for our newsletter.

Got a story idea, a tip or feedback? Leave us a voice mail message at 901–602–6868 or send an email to