BLACK LIVES MATTER. It shouldn’t have to be said, but it does.

Posted by Melissa Whitby on Jun 03, 2020

To our Bridge Builders, alumni, supporters and community partners:

In the coming days, we will be lifting up voices that need to be heard, starting with one of our own young leaders:

Wendsel (Trey) Lee McCray III
Bridge Builder + BRIDGES Youth Advisory Board Member

The late and forever great Malcolm X once said, “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” His words strongly resonate with our current situation. As an African-American, I can say for myself and many others that we are tired. Tired of having to fight tooth and nail to simply breathe in an oppressive space refined over many centuries.

The only way racism can be destroyed is for it to be continuously fought against. History has shown negotiation is not an option when one of the negotiators is selfish and grim. Martin Luther King Jr. attempted negotiation, and a bullet was launched into his head. Colin Kaepernick attempted negotiation and was removed, without fair reason, from a job he grew up loving. Kaepernick and Dr. King are only two names of the many who have attempted negotiation. In the end, the results are the same: there are no options left for an African-American’s fight for peace.

There were no options for Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Sean Reed and Tony McDade when they were brutally murdered by the system. A system dressed up in blue, white and red that screams freedom while forcing its foot down on the dead bodies of those who sought freedom. The passionate riots and protests happening across America are the result of a centuries-long negotiation for peace and freedom.

(Trey’s statement has been edited for length. Click here to read the full version.)

At BRIDGES, we train and support diverse young people to become courageous leaders committed to making Memphis better. We prepare them for the world outside of BRIDGES by equipping them with the tools and capacities they need to unite and inspire others: KNOWLEDGECOLLABORATION and LOVE.

We educate them about Memphis and the history of our city. We strengthen their skills, like public speaking and group problem solving. We arm them with a sense of justice and service. And, greatest of all these, we help them lead with compassion and empathy.

However, there is no training or armor that can protect our Bridge Builders from being threatened, harmed or killed for simply living while Black.

That is why we must stand in solidarity with the protests happening across the United States and here in Memphis. The stakes are too high not to act.


We have created virtual spaces where youth can find self-care resources, learn methods for combating everyday and systemic racism, or simply talk about what’s weighing on their minds and hearts. This Thursday, BRIDGES is collaborating with Facing History and Ourselves to host Bridges to History: Facing Contemporary Racism, a virtual event where middle and high school-aged youth can build a community of healing and discover their civic agency together.




We have also adapted our annual Bridge Builders Summer Conference to an online format, which allows us to continue this crucial work in a socially distant way, while also providing the flexibility to serve even more Memphis-area youth.

Right now, it is more imperative than ever we teach our young people what it means to care for others and themselves, to better our community for all of its members — no matter what they look like — and to find ways to connect when there are so many forces seeking to divide.

Enrollment is ongoing for rising 7th-12th grade students.



Our mission is clear, and we stand united with all of you in seeking justice and equity. We will continue our work connecting diverse youth and teaching them to lead with compassion. The young people of our city are not tomorrow’s leaders — they are today’s agents of change.

Thank you for supporting BRIDGES and the youth in your community.


Dana Wilson, President & CEO
and the BRIDGES staff and Board of Directors