South City

In photos: Stop the Violence Block Party celebrates a 20-year run in South Memphis

Mid-June means community on Tate Street. For the past 20 years, South Memphis resident Betty Isom has hosted a Stop the Violence Block Party, which is meant to inspire pride in the community and decry violence.
For the last 20 years, music, food and community have been staples on Tate Street in mid-June.

Down the street from her previous residence at the Cleaborn Homes housing projects, Betty Isom hosted an annual block party outside her house on the South Memphis street.

This year, to commemorate a milestone year and uplift a message against violence, a stage and musical acts were added to an already full afternoon of enjoyment.

Betty Isom, founder of the Stop the Violence block party, surrounded by friends and family.

As the sun started to set, two white hearses made their way through the crowd. Isom, who works with the Freedom From Unneccesary Negatives organization (F.F.U.N.) organization and uses her work in her community to denounce violence, brought the vehicles as a dramatic and somber reminder.

"Don't let this be your last ride," said the voices from the stage as people quietly milled around.

Folks watched acts on stage from a parked car on the Tate Street.

Songs celebrating joy while echoing the calls against violence and pain carried the event into the evening as kids and neighbors snacked on the food, provided for free with a suggested donation. Folks from Isom's church, the Downtown Church, helped at a fish fry station and a grill stayed lit into the night.

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Andrea Morales.

Andrea Morales is a documentary photographer based in Memphis. Born in Lima, Peru, she grew up in Miami, earned a B.S. in journalism from the University of Florida and an M.A. in photography from Ohio University. Working for different newspapers moved her to cities and newsrooms of all size, including the El Sentinel in South Florida, the Lima News in NW Ohio and The New York Times in NYC. Most recently, she was on staff as a photographer at the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, where she covered barn dances, ox pulls and presidential elections, all with equal joy.