Memphis councilman holds Frayser coat drive after donation from rapper ‘Lil Baby’

Memphis, Tenn. — There are students all over Memphis that will be a little warmer in the days and weeks ahead. With a little star power, a Memphis City Councilman put together a coat drive that attracted about 1,000 people to North Memphis.

With the months of winter still not completely behind us, cars, lined down the block, flood into the parking lot next to Martin Luther King, Jr. College Prep in Frayser to get the comfort of warmth.

Coats, along with gloves, were being given out to students. It meant a lot to Mattie Gilliom.

“It’s for my grandbabies,” she said after receiving two coats. “To me, it means a whole lot. It means that my babies can go out clean and warm.”

The “Warm Wishes Coat Drive” was an effort, in part, of Memphis City Councilman JB Smiley, Super District 8-1.

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, people are still unemployed, people have yet to receive their stimulus; what better way to show folks you care?” Smiley said.

Smiley was not alone in the effort, linking with a councilman in Birmingham, Alabama who had a special connection to Grammy-nominated rapper Lil Baby of Atlanta. The rapper, whose real name is Dominique Armani Jones, is using proceeds garnered from his song “The Bigger Picture” to help fund coat drives around the country.

“The Bigger Picture” is a protest song about the social justice demonstrations that took place last summer, released in June 2020 in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis Police officer put his knee on his neck despite Floyd’s cries that he could not breathe.

Derek Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter. Three other officers were also charged.

“We all are dealing with the same issues across community lines in America,” said John Hillard, a councilman for Birmingham, Alabama.

All of it came together with the final ingredient, Frayser Community Schools, to make a difference that is touching lives.

“I got sickness and death been in my family,” said Gilliom. “But God is still good. This is a blessing right here!”