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Clift Dates lived a mission-oriented life

Clifton “Clift” Dates – an Air Force Vietnam War veteran, a pioneering Memphis Police Department officer and the founder of a security company that once was Memphis’ largest African-American owned business – often declared himself on a mission.

Clift Dates co-founded the Afro-American Police Association in 1973.

Dates, who co-founded the Afro-American Police Association 50 years ago (in 1973), died at his home early Saturday morning. He was 77.

“Before I leave this world, I’m going to leave my mark,” Dates said in an interview with The Tri-State Defender in September of 2021. “I don’t know how long I have. It could be a few weeks, or it could be a year. I just don’t know. …I’m ready to go when the time comes, whenever that may be.”

Dates disclosed that he was battling the effects of Agent Orange, which he said he was exposed to during his military service. He also doubled down on a long-held belief regarding the future of the African-American community.

Community unity, he said, was a basic building block for a fundamental mindset shift that was an absolutely necessary prerequisite for the community to evolve into a safer, healthier, nurturing environment for its future – the children.

Dates’ family shared the news of his death via social media.

“It is with great sorrow that we, the Dates Family, announce the passing of our Patriarch, retired founder, and CEO of CDA security, Clifton Dates II. He will truly be missed.”

On the afternoon before he died, Dates reminisced and talked about the Afro-American Police Association’s upcoming (December 16th) anniversary and Christmas Party during lunch with retired MPD Lt. Tyrone Currie, executive director of the Afro-American Police Association, and former MPD Director James Bolden, one of the co-founders of the association.

“He was the same old Clift, thinking that he knows everything,” Currie said, punctuating his observation with a laugh.

“Wisdom, very brilliant, self-sufficient … an entrepreneur,” Currie added as he recalled Dates. “He was a take charge, no-nonsense guy. He believed in excellence… He wanted to help his people. He didn’t like ignorance … (He would say) nothing is going to change unless we change the mindset.”

After joining the Memphis Police Department, Dates subsequently took on private security duties for clients such as Isaac Hayes. In 1988, he founded CDA Security, which he sold in 2013 amid declining health.

With Memphis’ African-American youth particularly in mind, Clift Dates (center) said he was stepping out on faith to help them, along with several others, including (seated l-r) Santi B. Smothers and Helen Cole-Washington and (standing l-r) Ike Griffith, Tyrone Currie, State Rep. Joe Towns Jr. and the son of Sunbeam Mitchell. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku)/TSD Archives)

Dates was on a self-described, two-fold mission when he summoned the late Pete Mitchell and several like-minded people to meet him at the then-downtown offices of The New Tri-State Defender in October 2018.

“We are going to declare war on crime in our neighborhoods,” said Dates, a principal organizer of Memphis Boxing Group LLC, a boxing group created to provide training to young men and women. “Our other mission is we’ve got to rescue our youth.”

From the meeting evolved the Boxing at the Pipkin series, which Ike Griffith coordinated from his post as director of the City of Memphis’ Office of Youth Services.

“Mr. Dates and Mr. Pete (Mitchell) were like father figures to me,” said Griffith. “They gave me insight on things we should implement for the betterment of our children in the city. The sport of boxing was one of the components … for our children to learn discipline, stay healthy … because of the exercise and eating regimen that you had to go through. Just giving our children another outlet for having something positive to do in their lives.”

Dates, said Griffith, was “a man of stature, a man that was caring, a man that was dedicated and committed to work. Most of all, a man that cared about the wellbeing of human beings.”

A memorial service for Mr. Dates is set for noon Dec. 20 at Serenity Columbarium Chapel, 1626 Sycamore View Road.

TSDRadio: A salute to Veterans Day with Clift Dates


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