A picture of the Hernando de Soto Bridge in Memphis as the sun sets. Memphians make resolutions
A view of the Hernando de Soto Bridge as the sun sets in 2020. Photo by Johnathan Martin for MLK50

It did not take long before people’s hopes for a brighter new year were harshly interrupted by Trump-supporting domestic terrorists ransacking the U.S. Capitol. But this sobering call-to-action should be a reminder to those of us horrified by the events that justice won’t come by way of those who linger. 

Before the sedition in Washington, MLK50: Justice Through Journalism put out a community call asking Memphians how they would commit to justice in 2021. These #Resolutions4Justice are promises to continue the struggle for a more equitable world after a year that has shaken us all.

Here’s mine: In 2021, I’m committing to educate myself more deeply on the history of our shared struggle for justice by reading a relevant nonfiction book each month and sharing takeaways with our followers on Instagram — because every movement needs to be informed by what’s come before.

First up on my list: “Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells.”

Find a compilation of #Resolutions4Justice below, starting with our own staff. These resolutions have been lightly edited for grammar and clarity. 

MLK50 Staff

“I resolve to center the most vulnerable residents  – people who have been made poor, people whose labor is exploited – and hold accountable those who create and maintain systems and institutions that advantage few to the detriment of many.”

– Wendi C. Thomas, MLK50 editor and publisher

“I resolve to learn as much as I can about what four years of Trump has revealed about our country and its people, and how we can work swiftly toward correcting the damage and establishing a more just America and a more just Memphis.”

Peggy McKenzie, MLK50 managing editor

“I resolve to reflect and write once a week about the power dynamics inherent to the photographic medium as a way to work toward a place where my practice doesn’t perpetuate harm.”

Andrea Morales, MLK50 visuals director

“My resolution for justice is to read at least one book about liberating people from systemic oppression each month, and also take notes in a weekly journal.”

Carrington J. Tatum, MLK50 Report For American fellow

“I resolve to read more books about racial/social/economic justice to further educate myself, and to help amplify as many voices as possible using MLK50’s and my own channels.”

— Stephanie Wilson, MLK50 web developer

“I resolve to keep understanding how to make wealth redistribution happen and also make it more accessible to fellow white people. And to figure out how to design anti-oppression workshops using Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families as a model.”

Andrea Faye Hart, MLK50 operations and development specialist

Community members’ resolutions

“I resolve to keep lifting, loving, learning, and living a liberative ethic.”

Andre E. Johnson, pastor and professor 

I resolve “to continue to build Black political power in Memphis and Shelby County. And to embody and exemplify the best of Black liberation theology in the pulpit and public square.”

Rev. Earle J. Fisher, #UPTheVote901

“I resolve to advocate for policies and practices that make higher [education] more inclusive for Black and brown people and first generation [college] students.”

Lurene Kelley, online education specialist at Christian Brothers University 

I resolve “to stay true to my purpose! Speak truth! Walk humbly! Seek Justice! Love without restraint. Focus my energy on principles, platforms and policies. Give and expect respect!”

TaJuan Scott Stout Mitchell, former Memphis City Council member

“I resolve to use my voice in spaces where Black folks are traditionally absent and advocate for larger inclusion. I also resolve to become more active in political power building.”

Venita Doggett, development director at University of Memphis

I resolve to “assist the community in creating two programs that are led and sustained by the community. The team I will be working with creates programs for all ages depending on the interest shown in certain areas; STEM at schools, fitness for adults, etc.”

Josh Adams, programming outreach specialist for the Memphis Public Library

“I resolve to continue to be a nag about closing the racial gap in income, a $22 [billion] economic impact for our community and the key to an economy characterized by equity [and] opportunity. Also, to advocate for the new generation of political leadership and for starting the process to elect a great mayor.”

Tom Jones, Smart City Memphis

“I resolve to tell the truth about our past. And about our present.”

Charles McKinney, history professor at Rhodes College

“I’ve had an epiphany about my personal role in justice, which involves how the words I choose to let loose in the world impact that justice. My great-great grandmother and double namesake was a writer who was an honorary member of the [Mississippi Press Association] and someone whom at least one blogger called, ‘The Poetess of the Confederacy.’ Every word I release has to be done with counterweight to that in mind.”

Ellen Morris Prewitt, author

“I resolve in 2021 to move in solidarity with Black leaders of this city and hold myself accountable to ending systems of white supremacy within myself.”

Chelsea Glass, Showing Up For Racial Justice

“Justice work lives in our blood and bones. My bones are weary. I resolve this year to heal myself and encourage those around me to be mindful of their own needs to heal. It’s the only way we can continue to get clear on what we are fighting for and why.”

Tami Sawyer, Shelby County Commissioner

This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power and policy in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today. MLK50 is also supported by these generous donors.

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