Rev. Kenneth T. Whalum Jr., a former Memphis mayoral candidate and influential pastor of The New Olivet Baptist Church, is known throughout the River City for keeping it real. As schools begin to acknowledge the contributions of notable African-Americans during February Black History Month activities, Whalum says that the annual observation should be abolished.
“I think it’s a colossal waste of educational resources at best, and an inhumanely-cruel and slow-acting poison pill at worst,” says Whalum who was the most outspoken member of the Memphis City School Board during his tenure there.
However, one should not take Whalum’s disdain for the holiday opinion as anti-African-American. On the contrary, Whalum advocates a more pro-active approach to celebrating Black History.
His New Olivet Baptist Church boasts ministries that include an outreach to gang members and its B-A-M-M (Bust-A-Move-Monday) selects Black-owned businesses on the first Monday of each month and directs patrons to spend their dollars with that business on that day. It’s a wealth-building initiative that’s empowered many African-American businesses in the region.
“I’m not some fly-by-night, jack-legged preacher,” Whalum once told The Memphis Daily News when running for elected office. “I am well prepared. … They’re scared of this kind of candidate because I don’t owe anybody anything at all.”
Rev. Kenneth T. Whalum Jr.is a graduate of Morehouse College, Temple University School of Law and the Memphis Theological Seminary. Born and raised in the inner city of Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Whalum has dedicated his life to proclaiming social justice for the citizens of Memphis, especially those who cannot speak for themselves: the children.