“Point ’em out..knock ’em out!” is what they said

We talk about bridging a social gap between our teens and society. But according to the 2013 Report Card where there was an 88% graduation rate, it seems we are not bridging a gap, we are parting further apart. (http://tn.gov/education/data/report_card/2013.shtml) The incident that happened Saturday, Sept 6 around 9:15pm on the Kroger parking lot of Highland and Poplar is not the first time this incident has happened in that parking lot. I have shopped in that shopping plaza many times and there is always at least 2 patrol cars driving the lot. Where were they when these incidents happen? Better yet, why didn’t anyone call the police when the first man was being attacked? Instead of calling the police they were taking a video to go viral. What if this was your child, what would you have wanted done..video or police?!

It was told a 25-year-old man said he was attacked by the mob of teenagers as he was walking to his car in the store’s parking lot. Two teenage Kroger employees – aged 17 and 18 – hurried to help the man being attacked, but both of them were said to have been repeatedly hit in the head and face. The employees said the mob threw pumpkins that weighed more than 20 pounds at their hands after the two had fallen to the ground. Those actions are verified in the video that was taken. Both of the employees who were trying to help the man lost consciousness due to the physical attack they encountered. (examiner.com) This was not black on white crime, it was a gang of kids who some call themselves the “Fam Mob” who played a game called “point them out, knock them out”.

Now how ridiculous this sounds, it’s the same effect of the irrational challenge games – cinnamon challenge, pass out challenge, fire challenge, the Vaseline challenge and so many more “challenges”. What happen to the challenge of staying in school? When will adults be challenged to become a mentor? We argue that there are more black males in the street, in gangs, pants hanging down, not in school, etc. But when are we going to stop complaining about it and start helping the problem? Yes we know the old saying it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a mentor to help just one. Don’t complain about what they are doing unless you are making an impact to change the behavior. They are reaching out asking for help yet so few are stepping up to the plate and giving it. Don’t be about it, do something about it! What’s YOUR civic duty in the community?


Justice, Injustice, the truth

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by their color of their skin but by the content of their character.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 

If he was alive how do you think he would be reacting to these shooting of young men?  Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and reaching home to my family Steven Askew who was shot last year in his car at the Windsor Apartment while he was waiting on his girlfriend.  To us these young men were innocent and was “minding their own business”.

There are conflicting stories on all three victims but do WE know the real truth.  They say it’s 3 sides to the story: your side, their side and the truth.  What was the truth here in these stories?  They were all young, African American and had no prior records on them.  So why shoot the victim verses another alternative?  Did the victims provoke them and the officer used unnecessary actions to maintain the situation? Parents want to know why! Police Shooting Missouri

According to Steven Askew case, it’s reported by Action News Channel 3 that “Memphis police were dispatched to the apartment complex at Knight Arnold and Mendenhall around 9:50 p.m. Thursday on a loud music disturbance call. When officers arrived, they said they saw a man slumped over the wheel in his car and they went to check on the man. According to Memphis police Sgt. Alyssa Macon-Moore, the man then pulled out a gun. Officers immediately opened fire, killing him.” The gun was registered and he was in a location that definitely needed protection.  Did the police officer over-react? Would you have done the same?  My belief is he could have just stated loudly, “Put down your gun!”  There could have been some alternatives that could have been done for all 3 victims but they weren’t taken.  Read the article yourself. http://wreg.com/2013/01/18/man-shot-killed-by-memphis-police/

There is a lesson in all situation.  Although African Americans are judged quicker, let’s not give them a reason to.  If you are asked to stop, then STOP.  Don’t start confrontation with the officer and don’t bring attention to gather a large crowd. Be submissive to the officer and remember the officers name and badge number if possible; but don’t get smart and say I have your badge and name and will make sure that you get it.  Officers are human and they get pissed just like you and sometimes going by the book is not on their mind.  We understand officers are here to protect us and keep us safe, but how far do you think they should go to make a person stop or get their point across?  How much necessary force is needed?  This is dedicated to my aunt who will forever mourn the lost of her son. These families are hurting and they want answers now!

Life after suicide

Imaged after you get a call saying your brother was found dead on the side of the road with a gun inflected wound to the head.  He had just committed suicide and he left you this note:

“I wanted to start by saying this is not anyone’s fault but mine.  This is my decision and I did not base this on anything anyone did, said, acted, or anything else.  I have had this on my mind for the past few years, probably since high school.  I made this decision because I am tired of being hurt and depressed.  I have been in pain of some sort everyday of my life.  The most hurtful is knowing and leading a good life and realizing that what I do does not matter.  I want to be remembered as a servant leader, thoughtful, generous, fun and intelligent  person.  About 2 years ago, I was diagnosed as a “high functioning” manic depressive (once known as bipolar). I tried my entire life to fill the glass of others with no regard to myself.  Despite what light you saw me in, that was the goal of my entire life- to empower others. Unfortunately, I chose not to continue this life and thus probably hurt a lot of people.  No one else should do the same selfish act that I have committed. I apologize.”


When I read the news about comedian Robin Williams had committed suicide, I automatically thought of this letter MY brother left for ME.  My response was how dare he leave me, how dare he commit such a selfish act.  Then I turned and said where did I go wrong, what did I miss?  At age 27 he took his life and I couldn’t ask questions why.  But his letter said it all.  He was tired of being hurt and depressed.  He was tired of being everyone’s else motivation but he wasn’t getting the empowering and motivation he needed.  He made people smile, laugh and feel good about themselves.  People saw him as an individual who had no worries because he always smiled.  Is that how Robin Williams felt?  He made us laugh, he made us cry and most importantly he had a family that depended on him.  But where was his help, his laughter, his outlet?

We look at people and see their smile and think that everything is ok.  But the signs are visible, we just ignore them because we believe it’s part of society.  You know the drinking heavily, smoking more than usual, selling their belongings or buying guns more often than normal.  Perhaps sleeping more or taking pills to fall asleep because they are depressed.  They may just say they are just tired and we believe it. It’s time to really look at the signs and acknowledge it.  One statement my brother, Norman Paul Nolen II, left me personally was make sure I said thank you, don’t say I love you unless you mean it and SHOW others that you care and don’t just tell them.  That bothered me because I wasn’t for sure if he said it in generalization or perhaps I did him like that.  Was that one of his trigger points?

In the bible it talks about growing through discouragement.  Paul thought about taking his own life. He “despaired even of life” (2 Co 1:8).  Yes we all have our ups and downs but do we have someone we can really talk to without being judge? Discouragement to me is only a temporary set back that we can overcome, IF we have faith, talk to someone and really look at the heart of the issue.  I know for my brother his trigger point was love and support from others who he had supported.  Yes family was fine but he wanted that outside love returned back to him.  When he was discouraged in his relationship, that was his last trigger point.  He had set his heart on it and when it fell apart, to him that was his last straw.

So what do you think Robin Williams trigger point was?  What made him make that decision that he couldn’t take it anymore?  We will never know?  All we do know is he left us with amazing memories that will last forever.  Since my brother’s death, I have made some major life changes and choices to help me cope with this tragedy. It’s been hard, extremely hard but I read his letter for that one sentence he left me, “Shun, you are the strongest most given and selfless person I have even known.  Be strong.  I know that it will be hard, but you are stronger that I will ever be.”  If you lost a love one over depression, what have you done to help you get through it?

Do you know the zone you are in? Let’s Talk!

UCAN extended an open call to participants ages 12-20 to take part in its quarterly teen talk session on June 28 entitled, “The Social.” During this session, topics will include peer pressure, bullying, self-esteem, say no to drugs and other critical issue topics facing teens. The free event was held at the House of Mtenzi from 2 to 5 p.m., 1298 Madison.


Each quarter “Let’s Rap” Teen Talk session gives teens an outlet to be empowered, discuss hot pressing topics, socialize with other teens and be creative. Each session carries a different focus with varying topics. Young people are interviewed to get their take on current news issues, while a host of motivational speakers are enlisted to enlighten and encourage throughout the year.
This quarter “Let’s Rap” was entitled “The Social”. This quarter we discuss sensitive topics such as peer pressure, drugs, sex and more that teens may not feel so comfortable to discuss with parents. Brandy Flynn of Brady J. Flynn Counseling and Consulting Services, Elder Jessie Jennings, author of On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! and UCAN President Leshundra Robinson was this quarter, “The Social”, guest panelists.

The teens were engaged to the questions asked by host James Wesby. The panelist answered the questions with honesty. They shared their own experience as a teenager and how they handled some of the issues dealing with peer pressure in college, dating and identifying your own identity. Here are some of the takeaways from “The Social”:

1. Identify your “Self-Identity” early, if possible
2. Say ‘no’ to any substances that may cause addiction
3. Don’t make “this is just my environment” an excuse – select the right environment (good soil) to plant your seed (you).
4. Be purposeful – (i.e. selecting college)
5. Based on your career aspirations or who you are, what type of music tell about yourself? What’s your personal ‘soundtrack’
6. Utilize music to provoke positivity in your life
7. Know who you are internally before adding or take away from your body, externally (hair, tattoos, losing weight, etc.). This can be the determining factor towards your decision.
8. Don’t get caught up how someone thinks about you, but make sure you’re confident in yourself
9. Relationships – Love yourself, but prepare for that season……..prepare during the “pre-season” before the actual game
10. Get a mentor……today!

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The next teen talk sessions are Sept. 27, which will have a focus on networking and the 30-second elevator speech and Dec. 27, which will focus on a student’s hidden talents, emphasizing self-expression through song, dance and poetry.

UCAN’s mission is to impact young adolescents through mentoring, personal development and education with a goal to foster positive growth in the community. The organization, co-founded by Leshundra Robinson in 2005 as a community giveback to her former neighborhood, primarily mentors young female teens in the North Memphis area. For more info on the rap sessions or UCAN’s other community and educational programs, visit ucanofmemphis.org or call 262-8642.

“Promote Being Yourself” – Rising Student M.A.D

Meet Ricky Floyd, Jr.
Galesky the artist!wpid-20140606_114330-1.jpg


As you know each month we spotlight a Rising Student M.A.D. (making a difference) in the community. We are a little behind but have caught up with our April’s Rising Student M.A.D, Galesky AKA Ricky Floyd, Jr. We met him and his family at The Office @ Uptown located downtown 594 N. 2nd Street to talk a little about why he felt he was making a difference in the community.

Galesky is only 15 years old and changing the lives of many young teens in the community by his poetry. Born as Ricky Floyd, Jr., he attends Central High School as a 10th grader and enjoys writing and rapping about poetry. He has recently performed at Memphis Business Academy in Frayser for their teen summit. The students were able to relate to his poetry and even asked could he come back to give more inspirational thoughts. Galesky started writing at a young age; he considered himself the “nerdy type” and didn’t want to follow the crowd. So he wrote poetry. He felt you should own up to your own style of nerdiness and just promote being you.

His plans after high school is to attend one of many great art schools in Memphis, Visible College of Arts located in Downtown Memphis. He wants to perfect his craft in poetry and even try some other instruments such as bass and acoustic guitar.

Watch UCAN’s interview to see more and hear his poetry, which has received over 1,200 hits on his YouTube Channel!  

If you know a student in middle or high school that is making a difference in the community, nominate them by sending an emailing telling us why you think this student should me a Rising Student M.A.D.

At age 19, God and Family is #1

Paul - Jan

For many 19 year old you would think girls, dating, friends and going out would be on their list of high importance. Not Paul Matthew Morquecho. His importance is God, Family then happiness for friends. Paul was nominated as UCAN of Memphis Rising Student M.A.D. (Making A Difference) for the month of January. I met Paul at The Forgotten Soul Festival Feed the Homeless last Thanksgiving at the House of Mtenzi. He along with his entire family volunteered with UCAN to help clothe, feed and talk with the forgotten souls of the streets. At one point he went out of his way to help find some gloves for a man who said his hands were always cold. When he couldn’t find it, he was extremely disappointed and was willing to give the man his clothes.

Although Rising Student M.A.D. is for middle and high school students, Paul had just entered Memphis College of Art as a Freshman when he was nominated, so he still qualified. This is what Paul had to say about who he is, “…the time I have left in this world is so precious to me. I love Jesus Christ so much, I love my family, and I love the great friendships I made thus far in my life. I try my best to appreciate and enjoy everyday The Lord has blessed me with. Humility and a respectful attitude are the most important things to me, aside from my grades I try my best to maintain. My art is a monumental part of my life and I plan on building a career off it. I’m currently the freshman representative at Memphis College of Art and I enjoy having the responsibilities that come with it. I am the first person in my family to attend college and I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given. I believe in the kindness of strangers and the freedom of individuality. I respect and love all peoples equally, because I raised to do so. Helping others has always, and will always be, an important aspect of my being. I love my life and I’m a really happy person.”

It’s great to have rising students making a difference in the community! If you know a Rising Student M.A.D. nominate them, you never know what holds in store for their future 😉 Nominations are due by 27th of each month and should be emailed to ucan@ucanofmemphis.org. For more information visit the website at http://www.ucanofmemphis.org

rising student MAD pic
Rising Student M.A.D. Nomination Form

Grade at school:

What has this student done to qualify for Rising Student M.A.D. (Rising Student Making a Difference)?

Students Rising Above to Make a Difference

Rising Student M.A.D.

Students Rising Above to Make a Difference

 Often we hear about students not completing school or not taking advantage of their education while they are in school.  “A new report from the Department of Education shows that high school graduation rates are at their highest level since 1974. According to the report, during the 2009-10 school year, 78.2 percent of high school students nationwide graduated on time, which is a substantial increase from the 73.4 percent recorded in 2005-6. The report shows that graduation rates were up for all ethnic groups in 2010, and that the rate for Hispanic students has jumped almost 10 points since 2006.”  (Brenchley, 2013)

 UCAN of Memphis is aware this does not apply to all students in school and we want to highlight those rising students in middle and high school that are still in school and making a difference.  This is why we are promoting Rising Student M.A.D. (Rising Student Making A Difference) Rising Student M.A.D. gives the community, teachers, parents and their peers the opportunity to nominate a student who has made a difference in the community, at school, or even at home helping their family to strive to change.  Students are often embraced as juvenile delinquency only because they don’t have the right guidance.  With Rising Student M.A.D. you will see these students are the opposite and have been willing to change their environment by making a difference.

 Each month we will spotlight the winner of Rising Student M.A.D. on our website www.ucanofmemphis.org, media and other social sites.  The student will also volunteer with the organization representing Rising Student M.A.D.  At the end of the year, we will have all Rising Student M.A.D. attend our Christmas Gala December 20, 2014 at Wingate by Wyndham.  Only one of the Rising Student M.A.D. will be honored a scholarship for college of their choice!  Deadline to nominate a Rising Student M.A.D is the 27th of each month.  The winner will be announced and featured on ucnaofmemphis.org at the end of each month.  Send your nomination to ucan@ucanofmemphis.org 

Nominate a student today!





Rising Student M.A.D. Nomination Form



Grade at school:




What has this student done to qualify for Rising Student M.A.D. (Rising Student Making a Difference)?









Signature of person nominating Nominee


Print name


Phone Number                                                                                

Email Address