It’s election time here in Memphis, TN and as exciting as that time usually is,it has become more interesting as for the first time we are seeing an influx of younger and fresh faces attempting to take their shot at a seat in public office. As a spectator, I couldn’t be more intrigued by the tenacity of these individuals and as one who tries to be as politically engaged as my nerves will allow me to be, I'm hopeful as these individuals step into the political arena with the common intent to move this city forward in their various realms.
Before we go any further, no this is not an official endorsement blog; however, it is a spotlight on one of the many individuals that I’ve personally watched maneuver through the treacherous waters on the world of education in Memphis and across the state of Tennessee. This advocate, practitioner, and educational leader has a heart for people. His character matches his walk and his intentions are always pure. These are Just some of the attributes I believe is something missing in those that hold public office. I would like to see them brought back to the office of public servants. It is indeed my pleasure to highlight one of the candidates running for Shelby County Schools Board Commissioner-District 6 (which is also my district), Percy M. Hunter.
I recently learned of Pastor’s Hunter admission into the race of Board Commissioner and was indeed surprised and elated. I sat down with Pastor Hunter to congratulate him for taking such a bold and well-needed step and to ask him about his platform, areas of concerns and what he plans to bring to the seat of Board Commissioner and specifically District 6, which covers parts of South Memphis, Westwood, and Whitehaven (please see attached map to determine district boundaries).
This was not an official interview, but I do want to share a few takeaways from my conversation with Pastor Hunter’s.
For one, Pastor Hunter understands the role and responsibilities of a SCS Board Commissioner which if you study the role in depth actually has some limitations, though the general public may not know this. Pastor Hunter rightfully understands what the role and the responsibilities look like in the areas of policy, procedures, and budget. This is necessary as a Board Commissioner and the fact that Pastor Hunter can confidently speak on this before going into the role is a setup for success and will help the public to also rightfully understand the actual role of Board Member. I actually think a lot of the dissention lies with the general public not fully understanding the role and responsibilities of the local district’s governing board and even some board members not having knowledge on what holding that seat means .
Pastor Hunter intends to take a bold stance in his platform related around student advocacy, parent voice and teachers. In my opinion, these are three of the most under-rated and least heard stakeholder groups in the entire district. Personally and professionally, Pastor Hunter can speak intimately about each of these groups and add substance to why if we are to truly move the needle around educational achievement and the success of the district as a whole, these groups must be brought in, highly considered, and included in the processes. More than anything, they are also the three groups that hold the most power. Sad part is, more times than not, these groups don’t understand this and if you’ve ever sat back and watched, its almost heart-wrenching to hear of the ills surrounding our parents, students and teachers, the true heart of any district, school and city.
Pastor Hunter is also a respected member of the clergy community and his church is situated in the Whitehaven community. In previous roles, I’ve had the distinct pleasure to work with Pastor Hunter as a representative of the clergy community which speaks volumes in a city where sometimes, we can count on by hand the number of deeply engaged clergy. Typically, the clergy with the most skin in the game are those that lead our mid to large sized churches in the city. We know that the black Pastor is still viewed as an influential force in the black community, but I have witnessed first hand the struggles of helping to engage our clergy in various parts of the educational conversation. So much so, I remember one of the first blogs I wrote was around the role of the black church in the educational reform movement. I can honestly say Pastor Hunter has been deeply involved in this movement, both in practice and theory for quite some time now and if I can steal a portion of 2 Timothy 2:15; has done his due diligence in “studying to show thyself approved.”
Pastor Hunter is also a parent which again speaks to his insight into our current educational landscape from yet again another lens. He represents so many perspectives and can easily articulate the various lens without fail. This kind of expertise, insight, and perspective is definitely needed in leadership and I happily salute Pastor Hunter for this step.
I wish him the best throughout this campaign and pray that the people of Memphis will do their due diligence of learning about each of the candidates, their platforms, their track record (check those receipts), and go to polls and choose wisely.
As of now, Pastor Hunter is running against the current seated Board Chair Shante Avant. To learn more about Pastor Hunter’s platform and/or to contact him-please email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
The election is August 2nd.