Every Sunday morning in Memphis, pastors step to the pulpit and deliver sermons. Throughout the week, Memphians can see them giving back to the community, from feeding the homeless to counseling struggling individuals.
For Kenneth Whalum Jr., pastor of the New Olivet Baptist Church, his words are shared in the pulpit as well as politics. He is a candidate for Shelby County mayor.
Whalum is extremely proud to be a Memphian. He will unashamedly tell you that he is Memphis born, Memphis bred and when he dies, he will be Memphis dead.
This passion for his city is one of the many reasons he is running for office. Giving attention to the children of the city is what Whalum said is the base of changing the community for the better.
It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, and that is exactly where Whalum points the blame for the lack of educated children—the community.
“We have as a community practiced educational neglect of an entire segment of our community, which is a form of child abuse that produces counterproductive citizens,” he said.
He said running for mayor is nothing more than an extension of his brand, which consists of love for the community and love for children.
Some in the community attribute a lot of their success and growth as a person to Whalum’s commitment to community and children.
“Pastor has been a great influence in my life, as well as the life of many young people in this community. He pushes us to our maximum potential even when we don’t see it ourselves. He really has a heart for people,” said Markevius Faulkner, national recording artist and producer.
“I just don’t know about having a mayor that is as risking as he is,” said Shyana Jones, resident of the University District.
Whalum believes that the office needs someone with courage and boldness to do the right thing, and that’s exactly what he plans to bring to the office if elected.
He said he would have used his power to make sure that the nine schools that were recently shut down due to being under utilized receive more help to stay open.
In the next few months, residents will see what the city thinks about the cross pollination of the pulpit and politics.