‘They would not be ignored’: Citizen activists win Memphis ‘person of the year’ award
Diorama of lunch counter sit-down protesters at National Civil Rights Museum, Lorraine Motel, downtown Memphis, Tennessee. By Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The daily newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee honored citizen activists as the "person of the year" for 2017.


The Commercial Appeal bestowed the honor in a year-end editorial.

"The year opened with thousands of Memphis area women of all ages, colors and tax brackets marching through Downtown to express their concerns about the inauguration of a new government," the Commercial Appeal reminded. "The year drew to a close with hundreds of Memphis area men and women of all ages, colors and tax brackets cheering the removal of two symbols of a shameful old government."

Statues honoring Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Confederate President Jefferson Davis were removed in December.

"These are regular citizens who banded together online and in person, at public meetings and private strategy sessions, with petitions and social media campaigns, quiet vigils and good old-fashioned protests," the Commercial Appeal explained. "They were underestimated and overlooked, scolded and intimidated, detained and arrested, but they would not be ignored and they were heard."

The newspaper celebrated multiple local activist groups by name.

"#takethemdown901, the Memphis Lynching Sites Project, Black Lives Matter and other groups worked to remove Confederate statues, mark lynching sites, and confront our racist past and present," Commercial Appeal continued.

"Citizens Against Frayser Landfill Expansion, Protect the Aquifer, Stop the Diamond Oil Pipeline and other groups worked to address local environmental challenges threatening our natural and shared resources," Commercial Appeal continued. "The Overton Park Alliance, Stop Hurting Overton Park, Friends of the Fairgrounds, the Coliseum Coalition and other groups worked to protect and preserve our shared public places and spaces."

"Memphis Grassroots Organizations Coalition, Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, Memphis Coalition of Concerned Citizens, and Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope, and other groups addressed economic, educational and social challenges from outsourcing to deportation," Commercial Appeal praised. "Fight for $15, Just City, Project MI (Mass Incarceraton) Memphis, Comunidades Unidas en Una Voz, Mothers Demand Action for Gun Sense, People for Enforcement of Rape Laws, Stop the Diamond Oil Pipeline, and other groups worked to confront specific problems from unjust bail laws to unexamined rape kits."