Bernal's Blog

TSD Publisher Bernal E. Smith II shares his thoughts on random items of the day.

If you missed it, you missed it. But in case you missed it, here are some of the highlights!
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” – Luke 12:48. As chairman of the Memphis City Council and a duly elected official (District 7) you are entrusted with much responsibility...
By Bernal E. Smith, II

The New Tri-State Defender continues to grow and evolve as a multi-media business that is on a mission to inform, inspire and elevate the community. As we move forward serving Greater Memphis via our weekly printed newspaper, we now are reaching global audiences through multiple digital platforms. That growth and expansion is complemented by the addition of events that allow us to extend our brand and our mission into the community in effectively penetrating ways. It is with great purpose and intention that we conduct and support the various events in which we endeavor. Certainly that is the case with our 65th Anniversary Legends and Leaders Gala. Growth requires that we take time to reflect on and understand the journey, the steps that have brought us to this point. If we are to have more abundant life today, we must study those that struggled, triumphed, toiled and sacrificed so that we could obtain the lessons expressed in their words and actions. Truly it is those lessons that lead to our greatest tomorrows. Yet and still, we must not miss the history that is evolving before us each day. It is imperative that we appreciate those that are contributing, building, fighting and striving today for better tomorrows. Tasked with chronicling the past 65 years of history, change and struggle, The New Tri-State Defender (TSD) – at this seminal point in its evolution – pauses this week with dual focus: to acknowledge and reflect on our great contributors and newsmakers of the past; and to shine our spotlight on a new generation of leaders making things happen today. Ever mindful of our historic commitment to give voice to the community, we chose to use the platform of our 65th Anniversary to recognize and acknowledge legends and leaders and to ensure connectivity and purpose between them. That is what this celebration is about: the continuum of leadership, the connectivity of generations of leaders within the Greater Memphis community for the sake of greater purpose and outcomes going forward. Too many times, the things that separate us – race, class, culture and/or generational gaps – take precedence and strand us on the road to our greatest potential. My vision and hope is that this “Legends and Leaders” gala and celebration connects people of influence in a more meaningful way while also opening a path to the many opportunities to work collectively across seasons of purpose to improve our great city. As a life-long Memphian, I have long observed the disconnect between generations of leaders, particularly in the African-American community. There has been an absence of intentionality towards sharing, nurturing, grooming and passing the torch. In some instances, a tug of war ensued. At other times, the dropped torch had to be picked up from the ground and re-lit. In both instances, progress was stalled or halted, injuries occurred and the flame flickered out. Rather than leveraging the progress from the previous runners, we found ourselves starting anew. We cannot afford to continue down the path of self-inflicted wounds and setbacks. It is my desire that Legends and Leaders will be a spark (among other catalysts) to light a new torch that we can collectively and proudly carry forward. I sincerely believe we can establish a beacon light of hope for a new day and a new way, where intentionality is the order of the day relative to working across our differences for a greater tomorrow for all. I congratulate all of our honorees and I encourage them to take on this effort to improve our outcomes with greater connectivity and purpose. I am asking them to do it not only within their own families amongst fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, but to also share knowledge, ideas and access with our city’s sons and daughters. The yield will be a stronger collective for the Memphis of tomorrow. At the TSD, we acknowledge that Memphis has so many that are deserving of this recognition and we regret that we simply couldn’t acknowledge more this year. The sobering aspect of these kinds of endeavors is that finite capacity requires some limitations and exclusions. That does not diminish the great contributions of so many across our great city. To those that we were not able to recognize, please continue doing the great work that you are doing and know that we are watching with appreciative eyes. And when the time comes, we stand ready to celebrate you, perhaps through another platform. The Legends and Leaders gala will unfold on Saturday, March 25 at 7 p.m. at the St. Jude Domino’s Event Center. Join us for a grand occasion and a momentous one for the community and TSD. And if you are unable to attend, join us in the ongoing spirit of the occasion and our mission to inform, inspire and elevate. Collectively, WE are the solution.
By Bernal E. Smith II,

Television talk show host and former talk radio personality Thaddeus Matthews is accustomed to fighting battles stemming from his sometimes over-the-top antics and methods of dealing with people and topics on his shows. Recently, he found himself in the victory lane. Following two arrests in March, Matthews has been cleared of charges related to a harassment complaint filed by Fred McWilliams and of a subsequent violation of probation charge. Matthews also is now on probation for five years after accepting a plea deal stemming from charges of sexual exploitation of a minor after posting – on his Facebook page – a photo of a child being sexually abused by an adult. Matthews contended he posted the photo to get law enforcement to pursue the abuser and to seek assistance for the child. He pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence, avoiding both jail time and having to register as a sex offender. “I would have gone about it differently,” Matthews told The New Tri-State Defender. “My intentions were to assist the child that was clearly being abused. I went through a three-year legal battle and understand that I went about it the wrong way, but my goal is always to bring truth to light and help those who can’t help themselves.” Never a stranger to drama or battles (legal or otherwise), court records show Matthews having been convicted of 14 charges, both felony and misdemeanor, over the past 25 to 30 years. “In my younger years I definitely was not a saint and I’ve made some mistakes in life, but if you look over my history in recent years my focus and efforts have been on serving this community,” he said. “I’ve helped many people without any news or fanfare, just out of the kindness of my heart and from my personal resources.” Earlier this year, Matthews again found himself on the locked-up side of a jail cell. He faced multiple harassment charges after McWilliams claimed Matthews threatened him on his show, posted nude photos of him, threatened to “kick his ass” and followed him to various places around the city. In an interview on WREG, McWilliams said, “I can’t sleep peacefully, can’t eat peacefully…can’t move about the city without wondering if I will be attacked.” McWilliams himself is embroiled in a legal battle, accused of embezzling over $1 million from the United Supreme Council Masonic organization and allegedly spending $240,000 on Grizzlies tickets and numerous other extravagant items. It’s been a little over a year and the case remains open, moving through the legal process. In McWilliams’ case against Matthews, a hearing was set for June 5. McWilliams did not show up and the case was dismissed. However, Matthews’ arrest in March had already led to a filing of violation of probation charge and the scheduling of a hearing. The hearing was held and the charge was dismissed since the harassment case had been dismissed earlier. Bottom line: the way was cleared for Matthews to continue his nightly show on SVP TV/Comcast 31 and to launch a new venture. Matthews’ latest pursuit is the opening of a new church. Yes, you read that right. A church, not a Church’s Chicken franchise, but a real live bona fide church complete with musicians, choir and members. And, of course, he is the leader of the flock – the ‘Man of God,’ minister, pastor. Anyone remotely familiar with Matthews’ show and rhetoric knows that he has been one of the city’s biggest critics of area pastors and churches. “I’ve always been a minister and have preached the gospel for some time. I’ve raised some hell in my day but I’ve always been rooted in the Lord and felt it was time to actually pursue the ministry in a bigger way,” said Matthews. “Many of the things I’ve done in the community were an extension of my ministry, buying furniture, food, clothing and helping families in need.” The new church is named Naked Truth Liberation and Empowerment Ministries. Its pastor is known for his raw and uncut views and has – on several occasions – posted naked photos of some who have riled him. “We’re at 843 West Raines Rd., the old Abundant Grace Church,” he said. “A preacher, who is also an entrepreneur, owns the building and has renovated it. We lease it from him for our Sunday morning service. Our congregation is small but growing because of the reach of my television show.” When pressed, Matthews said he has about 100 members, but has had as many as 200 show up for Sunday morning service. He’s been holding services since July 3. What’s the mission of the ministry? “To extend what I’ve always done: empower people with the truth, the raw naked truth and liberate them from the bondage of traditional churches. Naked Truth provides an alternative to what people have been getting and, of course, you know I am going to keep it all the way real!”