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The Daily Memphian | The Early Word
The Early Word: Meet the new City Council; Realtors watch Missouri case

How are we doing, Memphis? It’s Monday, Nov. 20, the national Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to honor those whose lives were lost to acts of anti-transgender violence. OUTMemphis will host a candlelight vigil this evening at 6 p.m. 


The new Memphis City Council that takes office in January will have its first female majority in the body’s history. (The Daily Memphian files)

Meet your new Memphis City Council: Come January, the Memphis City Council will look a little different. The 13-member council will have its first-ever female majority with five new members and eight returning members. Our own Bill Dries offers an in-depth look at every council member. Memphis Mayor-elect Paul Young also takes office in January, and the council is considering giving him a 23% pay hike. Unless it’s approved, Young would be making less as mayor than he makes in his current role as CEO of the Downtown Memphis Commission.

Shooter found dead after manhunt: Mavis Christian Jr., 52, was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot early Sunday morning, after he allegedly killed four female victims and critically injured another Saturday between 5:43 p.m. and 9:22 p.m. The shootings occurred in Whitehaven and Southeast Memphis, and a citywide manhunt ensued Saturday evening (which you likely learned of from an emergency phone alert in the middle of the night.) Christian had a history of domestic violence, including an alleged assault on his wife and 16-year-old daughter. In other crime news, The Daily Memphian’s Julia Baker shares the stories of two teens who were shot and killed in Frayser in unrelated incidents, just miles apart. And in Collierville, a fatal shooting and attempted murder at an apartment complex two months ago became a double homicide Friday when the second victim died of his injuries.

A house for sale at 1181 Island Place East on Mud Island. (The Daily Memphian file)

This court case could change real estate: Last month, a Missouri jury agreed that several real estate firms and the National Association of Realtors had conspired to inflate Realtors’ commissions, driving up sales prices. And the jury awarded $1.8 billion in damages to about 500,000 Missouri home sellers. Now, local real estate agents are paying attention. The case is under appeal, and it could potentially unravel the current fee system that has guided real estate transactions for decades. If the fee structure is changed so that buyers pay a separate fee, Joel Hobson, president of Hobson Realtors, expects the local market would be hurt.

Another inmate death lawsuit: The parents of Marcus Donald, a 38-year-old man who died at the Shelby County Jail after allegedly being strangled by his cellmate have filed a lawsuit over his death with civil rights attorney Ben Crump. Donald had already been declared eligible for release but was still in jail, according to the lawsuit. The suit alleges 201 Poplar has an “unwritten rule” of holding inmates after they’re cleared for release. It also alleges the jail is understaffed and poorly supervised, claiming other inmates tried “desperately to summon the guards for help” with no luck after Donald was strangled.

Supporters of federal education funding held signs during a committee hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 15. (Ian Round/The Daily Memphian)

More questions than answers: Tennessee Republican lawmakers studying the possibility of rejecting federal education funds held eight total hours of meetings over the past two weeks. But they’re still unsure of what to do. Statewide, schools receive about $1.3 billion in recurring federal funds each year, and most of that supports students from low-income families and those with disabilities. The lawmakers say they want to relieve the state of the “strings attached” to federal funds, including protections for LGBTQ+ students, and would replace those funds with state dollars. During the course of the committee sessions, lawmakers failed to talk to parents or students who would be affected by the cuts. The Daily Memphian’s Ian Round has been following the meetings, and he offers four takeaways from what he learned.



University of Memphis incoming freshmen and their parents took a campus tour on Wednesday, August 16, 2023. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian file)

Experiencing crime firsthand is enough to make many people want to move — but not Cody Behles. After the director of innovation and research support at the University of Memphis was robbed at gunpoint, it reinforced his decision to stay in Memphis and continue his work trying to get grant funds for research at the U of M. “I was in the middle of writing this grant when I got held up,” he said. “It took me a couple months to turn my resolve around. But you know what we do at the university? We solve problems. And there’s nowhere I’d rather do that than right here.” Now thanks in part to Behles’ work, the university has generated a whopping $87 million in research awards this year — nearly double last year’s number. 



“We tried to explain to [the new owners that] the building is 133 years old, and the brick is in pretty good shape,” said Michelle Koeppen, vice president of Memphis Heritage Inc. “And if you start painting stuff like this, it sort of takes away from its original character.” (Courtesy Memphis Heritage)

Paint points: The new owners of the old Nineteenth Century Club in Midtown began applying white paint on the bricks of the 133-year-old home last week, igniting a firestorm on social media. Midtowners don’t tend to take big changes to historic structures lightly, and the new owners, who are opening a second location of their Southaven-based Tekila Modern Mexican in the home, say they had no idea the paint would be offensive. Luckily, this story may have a happy ending: One of the owners contacted Memphis Heritage Inc. and agreed to stop painting. They’re allowing Memphis Heritage to pay for paint removal. Now, a local contractor will do a test to see if the paint can be removed without harming the brick. (Fingers crossed!)

Former UrbanArt director Lauren Kennedy is opening Sheet Cake, a new Edge District gallery. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian)

Sweet welcome: Lauren Kennedy, the former director of the UrbanArt Commission, is opening her new art gallery, Sheet Cake, on Friday, Dec. 1, with its first group exhibition called “Welcome In.” The gallery will focus on female artists, queer artists and artists of color based in or connected to the American South, and Kennedy plans to make art purchases more accessible through a payment plan platform. The opening exhibition’s name, “Welcome In,” falls in line with Kennedy’s mission to make Sheet Cake less intimidating than many galleries. (Speaking of “welcome in,” have you noticed a shift in retail stores switching from just “welcome” to “welcome in”? It’s a thing, and there’s a great “Way with Words” podcast about it.)

Memphis Grizzlies forward Santi Aldama drove against Boston Celtics center Al Horford in a game on Sunday, Nov. 19, at FedExForum. (Brandon Dill/AP file)

Is FedExForum cursed? The Memphis Grizzlies are now 0-6 at home after losing to the Boston Celtics, 102-100, at FedExForum on Sunday. Those six home losses equal the team’s total home losses from last season, when the Grizzlies boasted an NBA-best 35-6 home record. But the Grizz gave a solid try on Sunday, and coach Taylor Jenkins said he was “super proud” of how the guys played. The game should have been former Celtic/new Grizzly Marcus Smart’s first time playing against his old team, but he’s still sitting out with an ankle sprain. Saturday was a better day for the Grizz: The team managed to push through and erase a 19-point deficit for a 120-108 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Ziaire Williams, who’s had a turbulent season so far, came through with 17 points off the bench and a 3-pointer that gave the team a double-digit lead, among other admirable moves.

A young University of Memphis fan gets upset over a call during a Nov. 18, game against SMU. (Patrick Lantrip/The Daily Memphian)

Bad luck for (most) Tigers: The Memphis Tigers women’s soccer team’s 20-game winning streak ended on Sunday, as did their NCAA Tournament run. The team lost 3-0 to Pittsburgh. And then men’s soccer team fell out of the NCAA Tournament Sunday, too, with a 2-0 loss to North Carolina. The Memphis Tigers football team was knocked out of the AAC conference title race after losing 38-34 to SMU on Saturday. It’s disappointing for Tigers fans, but there are still positive things to celebrate from the season thus far; our own Tim Buckley is here to help you process those complicated emotions. Football reporter Frank Bonner II has a look at what’s next for the team whose dreams were dashed. There was better news for Tigers men’s basketball on Saturday: The team beat the Alabama State Hornets, 92-75, even though the win was a little sloppy. The women’s team had a mixed bag this weekend: They fell 90-67 in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament opener against the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday in the Bahamas. But they won Sunday’s tournament game against Howard University, 52-43.

Sisters Kristen (left) and Lindsey Archer are the owners of ARCHd, one of 14 businesses on the “Women-Owned Passport,” a flyer with deals and discounts that are good through Dec. 31. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian file)

Gals and gifts: This holiday season, you can get special deals if you shop at certain women-owned businesses around the city. Fourteen such businesses have teamed up to create a “Women-Owned Passport.” Check out the participating shops and specials here. In other holiday shopping news, three women on The Daily Memphian staff (including yours truly) offer up food gift ideas, ranging from local booze to cooking tools kids can use, on the most recent episode of “Sound Bites.”



Expect a chilly start to your Thanksgiving Day turkey trot, and pack a jacket for Black Friday shopping. 

You’re all caught up from the weekend. See you tomorrow.