MEMPHIS, Tenn. - 'I Am A Man,' four small words that sparked a movement in 1968. Saturday, it sparked conversation the moment Angela Rye took to the stage at the Orpheum.
"'I Am A Man,' which talks about the dignity that we deserve," the IMPACT Strategies CEO said.
However, the political advocate and CNN commentator Angela Rye questioned if Dr. King's dream has been fulfilled, nearly 50 years after he was assassinated in Memphis.
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"The City of Memphis spends more on policing than on education," Rye said. "Certain activists and advocates in Memphis must have escorts in City Hall."
Rye said the more things change, the more they stay the same.
"Are you proud of this Memphis? This Memphis that sounds entirely too familiar to the Memphis that rejected Dr. King in 1968," Rye commented. "Are you proud of this Memphis?"
Hearing that question was Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, who sat just feet from Rye.
"I think it's good to be challenged, challenged to do better," Mayor Strickland said. "We have made a lot of progress in the last 50 years, but like I said we have more things to do."
The mayor admitted not everything outlined by Rye does he agree with.
"I didn't know who she was, but that's fine," Strickland said. "We all should challenge each other and she was wrong in many of her facts. She's not from Memphis, she doesn't know what's going on here. But that's fine."
"Now this wasn't a direct challenge to the mayor," Rye said when asked about the comments made by the mayor. "So, if he is feeling defensive I would ask him to search his heart and his mind and let’s see what that's really all about."
Rye said instead of challenges her intent is to spark a healthy debate, starting with those at the top.
"If the mayor sat in the same room that I did, then he certainly felt the pulse of the people."
Rye added, conversation can create change.
"I wish the mayor the best, and I hope he meets with these activists and these wonderful advocates like I did today," Rye said. "I think he would learn a lot as well."
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