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Steve C.
Democrat TN 9

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  • Congratulating Dr. James L. Netters, Sr. on Receiving the 2014 Be the Dream Mlk Legacy Award

    by Representative Steve Cohen

    Posted on 2014-01-16

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    COHEN of tennessee in the house of representatives Thursday, January 16, 2014 Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Dr. James L. Netters, Sr. on receiving the 2014 Be the Dream MLK Legacy Award. This special award is given to those individuals whose lives have ``embodied the spirit and legacy of service, sacrifice and hope'' that characterized the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As a pastor, a public official and a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, [[Page E90]] it is fitting that this award be bestowed upon James Netters in recognition of his accomplishments and contributions.

    James Netters was born in Aliceville, Alabama in 1927 and moved with his family to Memphis, Tennessee in 1942. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1946, and nine years later was ordained by Reverend L.O. Taylor at Olivet Baptist Church. In 1956, Mr. Netters was installed as pastor of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood in Memphis. Under his leadership, Mt. Vernon has been active in the community, operating Mount Vernon Christian Academy, which provides education for infants, and Westwood Manor Elderly Cottages, which offers affordable housing for independent-living seniors. In 1963, James received his B.A. degree from Lemoyne-Owen College and later earned his Master of Divinity from Memphis Theological Seminary in 1987 and his Doctor of Ministry in 1994.

    In 1963, as the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum throughout the country, Dr. Netters travelled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the March on Washington, standing on stage while Dr. King delivered his ``I Have a Dream'' speech. Invigorated and inspired by this experience, Dr. Netters returned to Memphis and was successful at working to integrate public buses. Dr. Netters later joined Reverend J.O. Patterson and Fred Davis to become the first African-Americans elected to the newly formed Memphis City Council. As a Councilman, James Netters worked to bring Dr. King and other national civil rights figures to Memphis to support the sanitation workers during the strike of 1968. He was also influential in working out an agreement to end the strike. In 1971, he stepped down from the City Council to serve as the Administrative Assistant to Mayor Wyeth Chandler from 1972 to 1975. Dr. Netters was the first African-American to serve in this position in Memphis.

    Dr. Netters has received numerous awards and recognitions, and has served in various leadership positions including Chairman of the Board of Memphis Light, Gas and Water as well as its Interim President and CEO. He continues to pastor at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church and has grown its membership from 300 to over 4,000. Today, Reverend Netters is the most senior pastor in Memphis. There is no doubt that his work is worthy of this award named after Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mr. Speaker, I ask all of my colleagues to join me in congratulating Dr. James L. Netters, Sr. on being awarded the 2014 Be the Dream MLK Legacy Award.


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