Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Posted: 8/5/2005 8:06:22 AM EDT
I see where the esteemed former Sen. John Ford's sister has won the Dim primary for his replacement. Following the esteemed former Sen. John Ford's example, she also has NOT lived in the district for one year prior to running for that office nor does she even live there now!

Yet no one has the balls in the State Govt to mention this gross violation of law due to her being a black female & having the ilk of Al Sharpton rain down upon them.

She beat the esteemed state Rep. Henri Brooks in the primary, who skank who refuses to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in the House Chambers due to her belief that the US Flag "represents slavery". Henri sure seems to have no problem taking US currency though? Wonder how she reconciles the two issues?

For those who live in the Memphis area & has to endure this bullshit, you indeed have my personal sympathy. The sooner TN give Memphis to MS or AR, the better off TN will be, IMO.

Link Posted: 8/5/2005 2:43:09 PM EDT
Oh lovely.

...hold on,I need to call my realtor.
Link Posted: 8/5/2005 3:54:33 PM EDT
Well thats just frickin great
Link Posted: 8/6/2005 6:07:58 AM EDT
I noticed one other thing when the Tennessean gave her front page coverage. They listed all her kids but I do not recall reading anywhere any mention of husband, past or present?

Link Posted: 8/6/2005 8:54:35 AM EDT
The Fords are an absolute disgrace. They are a reflection of what has happened to Memphis in the last 15 years.

I still live in Memphis but badly want to leave. Job is keeping me here for the time being. Hopefully I'll be hanging my hat in Tipton or Fayette County by 2007 or else I think I'll go crazy.
Link Posted: 8/7/2005 10:36:24 AM EDT
From the Tennesseean

The Fords of Memphis: Service and scandal define a dynasty

Ex-senator's indictment only one chapter in saga of family that has held power for three decades

By BONNA de la CRUZ | Staff Writer

MEMPHIS — The tradition has spanned four generations of Fords: starting the week by sharing a blessing and a meal.

On this Sunday, the plates were heaped with candied yams, green beans, spaghetti and corn bread. Foil-lined bowls of fried chicken were placed in the middle of the table, like an average family dinner.

But the Fords of Memphis are no average family.

They are members of a political dynasty that stretches back to the 1890s and has reached from the city council to the statehouse to the halls of Congress.

They are meeting perhaps their biggest challenges now, as one faces federal bribery charges and another tries to become the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate from Tennessee.

Their political lives revolve around the south Memphis funeral home of N.J. Ford and Sons, a community-centered outfit that lent ambulances and limousines to the civil rights movement and helped out those who could not afford to bury their loved ones.

Although patriarch Newton J. Ford was never successful as a politician himself, six of his children and one grandson have been elected to public office.

At the same time, three of his children have been indicted on a range of assault, fraud, tax and corruption charges.

Only one, Emmitt Ford, has been convicted, although former state Sen. John Ford is awaiting trial in an FBI bribery sting, "Operation Tennessee Waltz," that has created a major push for ethics reform in the legislature.

Through it all, they have held sway over the political fortunes of many outside their family, getting out the Shelby County vote for Al Gore's presidential run in 2000 and escorting Phil Bredesen to several of Memphis' black churches the Sunday before he was elected governor in 2002.

"The family name has a lot of clout in Tennessee," said Alvin King, 70, a former state House member from Memphis. "They've been tremendously influential with their ability to provide services to people and get things done for people. And they were influential because they made other people influential."

The Fords have been seen as champions on welfare, health care and utility bills. But some have criticized the family for cutting deals with white developers without bringing home benefits to African-American constituents.

The family denies the charge, and one civil rights leader said the Fords furthered black causes just as much as other black elected officials have.

Newton Ford's children grew up without indoor plumbing but now live comfortable suburban lives. Former state Sen. John Ford lives in two houses, one valued at $362,000 and the other at $509,000.

At the weekly family meals, the Fords say, one thing is not served up — any talk of politics. One recent Sunday, conversation jumped from high gas prices to a Destiny's Child concert to terrorist bombings.

When the topic turned to the finest hotels in Memphis, Joe Ford asked Emmitt, "Remember the time we stayed at the Waldorf?"

The brothers laughed about their trip to the upper-crust New York hotel — which they entered wearing cowboy hats.

The family has stood together. But they have also stood apart, with siblings running against each other for office and even opening a competing funeral home.

A unifying force, they say, is continuing their father's mission of public service.

John's sister Ophelia Ford is running in an election this coming Thursday to fill the state Senate seat he left vacant when he resigned under indictment.

Harold Jr. is seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate next year. And Joe, 51, a Shelby County commissioner, may run for the post in Congress that Harold Jr., his nephew, is leaving.

Some in town will stand by them, regardless.

"We know they're having problems, but they've never turned their backs on us when we've had problems. So the community won't turn their back on them," said Claudia Miller, 56, a Memphis health-care consultant whose grandmother's funeral was handled recently by the Fords.

"They've just assisted too many people in critical times in their lives."

Rooted in the funeral home

The Fords' influence was born in their funeral home and radiates from it. To Newton Ford, nothing was more important than his family and his business, which intertwined.

When he sat down with architects to design a larger funeral home in the 1970s, he had 14 skylights built into the chapel's soaring east wall — an homage to the 14 members of his family.

He got the city to assign his business a street address of 12, to represent each of his 12 surviving children, his daughter Ophelia Ford said.

Newton's father started out with a small funeral business on Beale Street in the days of bluesman W.C. Handy. When his father died six months later, Newton, then just 17, took over.

Newton had worked briefly as a keeper of the famous Peabody Hotel ducks, which still march ceremoniously from the hotel's rooftop each day to splash in the lobby fountain. That's when Newton met Vera Davis, a pastry server at the hotel.

He was 19 and she was 17 when they wed — a quick affair in Arkansas with the couple sitting in their car, their daughter Joyce Ford Miller said.

The couple spent their early years in a three-bedroom, wood-frame house in the Memphis countryside. The girls shared one bedroom and the boys another, with four or more to a room.

People in Memphis knew him not as Newton but as "Brother Ford." On Sundays, the children walked down the narrow lane to the Ford Chapel AME Zion Church, named for their great-grandfather, who donated the land.

At the time, their West Junction neighborhood was home to a couple of saloons, two gas stations and a grocery store. Only the church has withstood the test of time, now in the shadows of the Walker Homes subdivision, one of the city's first black suburbs in the 1950s.

In its first years, the funeral home buried only a handful of Memphians. In 1936, Newton oversaw 50 burials, and with hard work that number grew to 366 in 1977.

"He didn't hunt. He didn't fish. He
didn't play golf," said Tony Liggins, who was Newton's personal driver and continues to work part time at the funeral home. "He buried people."

Black Memphians didn't just come to Newton for burial services. They went seeking help to pay their light bills, buy groceries, request rides to the hospital and get a proper burial even when money was scarce.

All 12 of the Ford children went to college, all but one heading to Tennessee State University in Nashville.Harold Ford Sr. was crowned TSU's "Mr. Esquire," an annual honor for a student with a pronounced style.

Like other black families in Memphis in the 1950s and 1960s, the Fords attended civil rights marches and mass meetings. A photo of John as a young adult, talking to sanitation workers during a 1968 Memphis strike, was included in civil rights author Hattie Jackson's book published last year. It was during that strike that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

"They were very much involved" in the civil rights movement, Jackson said.

Maxine Smith, 75, who for 34 years served as NAACP executive secretary in Memphis, said the civil rights organization encouraged Harold Sr. to make his first run for office, sensing promise in him.

"He stood as a role model — an example — symbolic of what can be done," Smith said about his win.

The Black Business Association, 100 Black Men and several prominent black ministers (including the one at Ford Chapel) did not return calls about the Fords during weeks of reporting for this story.

'Handwriting was on the wall'

Politics, the other family business, has been in the Ford genes even longer than undertaking.

Newton Ford's grandfather was elected a county squire in the 1890s, a position similar to today's county commissioner.

The Fords weren't politically active in the 1950s and early 1960s — perhaps it was because they lived so far out in the country, Shelby County Circuit Court Judge D'Army Bailey surmised. King, the former state representative, supposed it was because they were busy raising a houseful of children.

In 1966 Newton and Vera Ford bought a brand new suburban home at 194 Golf Club Circle. Newton gave political life a shot that year, losing an election to the state House. But he inspired his children to enter public office.

In the early 1970s, Harold Ford Sr. won a seat in the state House and John Ford joined the Memphis City Council.

During his first term in the General Assembly, Harold Sr. was chairman of a panel looking at utility rates. The young lawmaker railed against unreasonable late charges.

That crusade and countless hours putting up yard signs and handing out campaign fliers helped 29-year-old Harold Sr. beat a four-term Republican when he sought a promotion to the U.S. House in 1974. He won by 744 votes in an election night filled with high drama.

At one point in the evening, the incumbent almost declared victory. Harold Sr., meanwhile, stalked the Shelby County election office, where he helped identify four ballot boxes — from predominantly black districts — that had not been counted.

That year, Memphians also sent Emmitt Ford to take over Harold Sr.'s seat in the state House and sent John to the state Senate.

"It was at that point, the handwriting was on the wall," said Michael Hooks, chairman of the Shelby County Commission and nephew of former national NAACP executive director Benjamin Hooks. "When Harold was very, very active, it was difficult to get around not having his support."

A "Ford ballot," with Harold Sr.'s picture on it and checkmarks by the names of the candidates he endorsed, was like a seal of approval for black voters. It was mailed to black Memphians, published in newspapers and handed out near voting booths.

That gave family candidates brand identification, but the Fords did not march in lockstep. At times, John plugged his own sample ballot supporting different candidates.

"To suggest there was a single Ford-based machine that operated with one mind — was completely centrally organized and one-dimensional — I'm not sure that existed," said Marcus Pohlmann, professor of political science at Rhodes College in Memphis.

For instance, in 1994 Harold Sr. endorsed local politician Jack Sammons for county mayor, although John was in the race. Neither candidate won. Harold Sr. had given his support to Sammons before John entered the race, Joe Ford recalled, and kept his word.

And three years ago, Ophelia Ford and Joe ran against each other for a county commission seat that was left open when their brother James died. Ophelia announced her intentions to run for the seat before county commissioners named Joe to temporarily fill it. At the ballot box, Joe prevailed.

The Memphis mayor's seat, which the Fords have long coveted, has eluded the family. Joe ran in 1999, with Harold Sr. as his campaign manager, but lost to incumbent Willie Herenton — who has emerged as a strong rival to the Fords.

Harold Sr. is mostly retired now from Memphis politics, splitting his time between homes in Miami and The Hamptons outside New York City. He continues to work with his political consulting firm.

Seen as the family powerbroker, his absence from the political scene has dampened the Fords' role in kingmaking.

"Now that Harold is retired, the younger Fords are more concerned with getting themselves elected than getting into making or breaking other candidates," Hooks said.

'They never failed her'

More than 20 years ago, Laura B. Lewis pre-arranged her funeral with Newton Ford, right down to the kind of casket she wanted.

So when Lewis died on July 2, at age 93, her kin called the Fords.

The funeral was held the next weekend at St. John's United Methodist Church on a scalding day in Memphis. The church's air conditioning wasn't working.

Floral tributes bookended the casket in front of the altar. Mourners fanned themselves and dabbed sweaty brows with tissue.

As funeral director, Joe Ford closed the casket before the service, adjusting the flowers atop it. He oversaw all the arrangements, greeting friends and family of the deceased with his customary "Hey, darlin', how ya doin'?"

The deceased, whose career included catering and teaching school, was one of the many retirees who called on the Ford funeral home to get a ride to the polls on Election Day, granddaughter Carol Poston said.

"They never failed her," said Poston, 45, a legal assistant in Memphis. "They began picking her up when she was still able to walk and continued over the years long after she was confined to a wheelchair. They took the extra effort and made time no matter how busy they were."

That's the kind of personal attention the Fords would extend to anybody, said Claudia Miller, another granddaughter.

"It doesn't matter if you're poor or if you're important. Everyone is treated the same," Claudia Miller said. "Poor families they grew up with, if they were a little short, they wouldn't leave them hanging. They would give them the same dignified service."

The Lewis funeral was one of nine the Fords would handle on this particular Saturday. At one point, Joe and Joyce Ford Miller took a break for barbecue at Top's. A woman in line saw them and said, "You keep your heads up."

After returning a smile and a wave, Joyce said, "We get that a lot."

'The bitter with the sweet'

It's that kind of faith and forgiveness that has helped keep the Fords in power so long.

Emmitt Ford was re-elected to the state House in 1980 in the middle of a federal insurance fraud trial. He left politics a year later, when sentenced to prison, and never returned, instead operating a meat market and other businesses.

"I took the bitter with the sweet and got it behind me," he said.

John Ford crushed opposition or drew none at all in his eight elections to the state Senate, despite a colorful history. He was charged with shooting at a truck driver but was acquitted. He has clocked high speeds on the interstate, displayed a gun in a run-in with utility workers and fathered children with multiple women.

His newest baby was born in April to ex-wife Tamara Mitchell-Ford. They divorced in 2002, but she lives in one of the two houses where he said he resides. She named the baby after her ex-husband and calls him John-John.

At the same time, John has gained a reputation on Tennessee's Capitol Hill for his deep knowledge on health-care issues and social welfare programs.

He also earned a reputation for being flamboyant, wearing sharp suits and Cartier cufflinks, driving luxury cars, and sometimes making outrageous, and often funny, statements on the Senate floor and in committee meetings.

But that didn't detract from his ability to get things done in the legislature.

In 1985, D'Army Bailey saw his dream of creating a National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis slipping away. Local and state officials were unwilling to help raise the $8.8 million needed for the project.

Bailey turned to John, although just two years earlier they had faced off in a race for Memphis mayor.

As an ally of Lt. Gov. John Wilder and with some bargaining chips in his pocket with then-Gov. Lamar Alexander, John secured state funding, Bailey said. The museum is now open in the former Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was slain in 1968.

Bailey still faults the Ford politicians for too often siding with "major white developers" instead of their poor, mostly black, constituents.

But Joe Ford, a current county commissioner and former city councilman, said downtown is booming, which helps all citizens.

He and his brothers have put their political muscle behind low-income housing, improving utilities and other projects in their mostly black districts, Joe said.

"My vision has been to make sure we get our fair share of tax dollars," Joe said, using the example of an upgrade this summer of a golf course at Martin Luther King Park down the street from the funeral home.

John gave up his Senate seat two days after he was arrested in May. In addition to the corruption charges, he still faces more questions about consulting work he did for companies with ties to TennCare, a government program he had influence over as a legislator.

For this story, John declined to comment.

"My brothers and sisters can give you most of that information," he said. "I'm not in politics anymore."

Harold Ford Sr. and Harold Ford Jr. did not return repeated calls asking for their perspective on the family.

Family members who did talk declined to discuss charges against their brother, except to say they support him.

"We're a very prayerful family, and that makes a big difference," Joyce Ford Miller said.

During John's 2002 re-election race, he was criticized after allegations that he and siblings James and Joyce, who worked in the child-care industry at the time, improperly benefited from state child-care grants.

His primary challenger, a white civil rights lawyer named Richard Fields, hammered the senator on the issue.

"I thought he had corrupted the system," Fields said.

John won 78% of the votes.

"The Ford name was still magical," Fields said.

Link Posted: 8/7/2005 5:50:40 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ceylonc:
The Fords are an absolute disgrace.

Actually, they'd have to come up several levels to achieve "disgrace" level, IMO.

Link Posted: 8/8/2005 6:39:13 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/13/2005 2:01:44 AM EDT by Hank]
TN needs to give Memphis to Arkansas, then we would be even for them giving all of us the Clintons. Car 54, where are youuuu...

Hank says that was a no no...
Link Posted: 8/8/2005 9:35:11 AM EDT
It's Memphis, what do you expect?
Link Posted: 8/12/2005 11:25:05 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/13/2005 2:02:03 AM EDT by Hank]

Originally Posted By rxdawg:
TN needs to give Memphis to Arkansas, then we would be even for them giving all of us the Clintons. Car 54, where are youuuu...

Link Posted: 8/13/2005 2:42:20 PM EDT
The latest on this goat screw is Henri Brooks will contest the primary election. In case those of you who don't know this Brooks cunt, she is the state rep who will not stand nor recite the Pledge of Allegiance. She claims she cannot pledge to a flag that "enslaved her people". Yet the cunt seems to have no problem taking those govt checks or cash, eh????

God almighty, I hate those Memphrica politicians.
Top Top