Last Thursday, January 26th, 2017, I was honored to stand with my friends Bryan Jordan, Chairman & CEO of First Tennessee Bank, Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Bishop Edwin Bass and the Church of God in Christ family for the announcement of our HOPE Inside @ Mason Temple, Memphis.
Mason Temple was the location where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr gave his final “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech before his assassination on April 4th, 1968. Dr. King was in Memphis, TN. to support the striking garbage workers, as part of his Poor People’s Campaign.
COGIC has fully restored this regal building and headquarters for the Church of God in Christ, recently completely a museum and office complex. The church owns the land surrounding the building, and is now planning on developing low to moderate income housing in the surrounding community.
My personal history with Presiding Bishop Blake dates back to the days following the 1992 Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles, when I first founded Operation HOPE. Bishop Blake was one of the few important leaders back then who backed (and protected) me completely, as I went about my work of building Operation HOPE in the early years of HOPE’s development. It was Presiding Bishop Blake and Dr. Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray who made sure that I was protected. For this, I will never forget Bishop Blake, and forever be grateful.
Here is a little history that most people do not know: Bishop Blake was part of the civil rights movement, walking side by side with civil rights legends — including Dr. King.
Presiding Bishop Blake was, at the age of 22, one of the young leaders who huddled in the home of my personal hero, Ambassador Andrew Young — then the chief lieutenant to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the movement. Later on, Bishop Blake provided counsel and support to me — age 26. And Ambassador Young connects us both.
I am honored to see Operation HOPE today as a national partner with COGIC Urban Initiatives for financial literacy. And last week, to increase our level of engagement and commitment with our first HOPE Inside location — at historic Mason Temple.
To date, Operation HOPE has opened a HOPE Inside location at Dr. King’s home church, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and now we have opened a HOPE Inside location at the place of his final speech, Mason Temple.
HOPE is on the move.
John Hope Bryant