South Memphis Alliance, Inc. Overview
Population 37,554 residents (That is a 34 percent drop between 1980 and 1990)
99% African American
Median Income $16,157
37 percent of residents are homeowners
35 percent live in low-income apartments
51 percent of households did not own a car, according to the 1990 census.
The mission of SMA is to insure that an effective community association represents every resident of South Memphis. We believe that the two greatest problems of inner-cities residents are not crime, and poverty, the problems are first, the lack of "nutritional" information, that is information that is timely, accurate, useful and accessible. Without this type of information it is impossible for these residents to make decisions about their lives that could move them out of their present situation. But how do you get such information to these residents? Should government be the source for this information? No, government can be seen as a cold and uncaring environment making it difficult to access needed information. Should the church, synagogue, or mosque be the source for this information? No, though it may be trusted it is mainly accessible to only those who are religious. This type of information must reach everyone. Should the source be local news? No, though timely it is mostly 20-second sound bites of a recent bank robbery. This is not useful information that is going to improve these residents lives. In fact, it only increases paranoia and isolationism. Finally, should word-of-mouth be the source for this information? Clearly not, the issue of accuracy, and timeliness prevents this from being a means of sharing information. Second, the lack of effective leadership in the inner-city makes it difficult for residents to work together for their common good.
Then if a lack of information and leadership is the problem, how will inner-city residents be able to overcome these problems? The answer is community associations. These neighborhood driven groups if properly operated can be an effective source for this type of information, and an incubator for leadership development.
SMA is working to build community associations that can become a center for growth and development for South Memphis.