Historic Clayborn Temple engages in culture and the arts inspired by the participants of the 1968 Sanitation Workers’ Strike. Clayborn seeks to embody their declaration of the humanity and dignity of Black, poor, and working-class people and to continue their legacy of advancing human understanding through storytelling, engagement, and practice.
Clayborn Temple has been a part of Memphis and American History since 1892. First built and opened as Second Presbyterian Church, in 1949 the building was sold to an AME congregation who changed the name to Clayborn Temple.
Because of its reputation in the community and proximity to City Hall, Clayborn was chosen as the organizing headquarters for The Sanitation Workers’ Strike of 1968, Martin Luther King’s last campaign. The campaign’s iconic “I AM A MAN” signs were made daily in Clayborn’s basement and have since become a universal symbol for human rights and dignity.
From the ashes
In 1999, Clayborn Temple closed and fell into disrepair, but it has since reopened and begun revitalization. Officially named a National Treasure in 2018 by The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Clayborn has come back to life with the promise of leveraging the stories of the past to tell the stories of our collective future.
Our mission, inspired by the 1968 Striking Sanitation Workers, is to continue their legacy of advancing human connection through storytelling, engagement, and practice. We do this by engaging in story, arts and culture, and embodying The Sanitation Workers’ declaration of humanity and dignity of black, poor, and working-class people.
A Memphis Tradition
While Clayborn Temple is currently closed for restoration, our organization continues to implement story driven, community-centered programs that align with our vision. When we reopen in 2024, we will do so as a premier cultural arts center connecting downtown and historically Black South Memphis. We will be a breathtaking central space for gathering, celebration, story, and connection.
While under construction, we continue to bring Memphians together to lay the foundation for the future of Clayborn’s community based programs and explore through creativity and imagination, the values for which The Sanitation Workers so valiantly fought.
The $14M restoration of our building will include the realization of performance space, gallery space, a museum that chronicles the history of the building and The Strike, a center for community centered restorative economics, a library, and rental space for meetings, events, celebrations, and other gatherings.
Our vision is to:
- See the building fully activated with robust arts programming featuring artists from Memphis and around the globe.
- See the mission fully activated so that the intention of The Strikers lives on in our community programs.
- Become a hub for Memphis’ thriving cultural economy and a home where all are welcome and safe to build community across race and class and work for the safety, freedom, and joy for all.
Board of Directors
Konda Mason is a social entrepreneur, earth, and social justice activist. She is a co-founder of Jubilee Partners and President of Jubilee Justice; a nonprofit working to bring economic equity to BIPOC farmers and ecological sustainability. Ms. Mason, along with her partner's actors Woody Harrelson and Laura Louie, owned the first home delivery service of organic food in the Los Angeles area and were the first to negotiate an organic food section in a major grocery store. She is the Strategic Director of the Runway Project Oakland, a micro-lending fund for African American entrepreneurs, and co-founder of the annual COCAP conference in Oakland focused on “Building the We Economy”.
Ed Whitfield is co-founder and co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities. A long-time social justice activist, Ed has been involved in labor, community organizing, and peace work since the late 60’s when he was a student at Cornell University. He was chairman of the Greensboro Redevelopment Commission for 9 years and was formerly chairman of Greensboro's Triad Minority Development Corporation. Ed is deeply involved in conceptualizing and spreading the idea of democratic ownership and the reclamation of the commons.
Katie Harris is a Memphis-based philanthropist and currently serves on the founding team of Storytellers Live Memphis. She started her career as an NCIDQ Certified designer for an architecture firm where she worked on a number of notable commercial and civic projects in Memphis. Katie is committed to Historic Clayborn Temple and has participated in all HCT programming. Believing that justice acts on the disparity between the world that exists now and the world that ought to be, Katie is passionate that Historic Clayborn Temple will be a manifestation of that action for years to come.
Granddaughter of Baxter Leach, a Sanitation Workers from the 1968 strike, Tamika Turner is a groundbreaking entrepreneur, master barber, stylist, and public speaker. In June of 2016, she embarked on a historic journey of opening Tennessee's 1st freestanding Natural Hair School, The Institute of Beauty, LLC. The program is designed to educate, empower, and equip students in the field of natural hair care and the business of beauty. The Institute of Beauty has introduced over 300 business savvy, natural hair stylist students and over 100 licensed natural hair professionals into a billion-dollar beauty industry.
As Director of Strategic Alignment for archimania, an award-winning firm based in Memphis, Tennessee, Heather works directly with clients and their projects, strategic partners, and the communities we serve to advance design, expand public understanding of architecture, and broaden its impact. She served as AIA Memphis Executive Director for 18 years, President of The Council of Architectural Component Executives (CACE), and CACE Representative on the AIA Board of Directors. Heather has been recognized nationally by the American Institute of Architects as a Richard Upjohn Fellow and Louise Blanchard Bethune Fellow, honored with the National Council of Architectural Component Executives Leadership Award, and is an Honorary Member of the AIA and the the Tau Sigma Delta Silver Medal for outstanding service to the field of architectural education.
Allison has over 20 years of experience and demonstrated history working in Facilities Planning and Maintenance with an emphasis in the aviation industry. A creative team player and entrepreneur professional with a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and a Master of City and Regional Planning focused in City/Urban, Community, and Regional Planning from Clemson University, Allison is currently a Project Manager with Allworld Project Management, LLC (AWPM), a professional service firm launched in 2010 and based in the Memphis, TN area. Her diverse roles include construction support, economic and community development, and Geographical Information Systems.
Tony Bologna has led the architectural and planning firm of Bologna & Associates, Inc. for 21 years, concentrating his design activities on the restoration, revitalization and redevelopment of downtown Memphis. Bologna Consultants, LLC has expanded its mission to provide Project Management services on a variety of developments. Tony is a past chair and member of the Memphis and Shelby County Building Code Advisory Board. He was instrumental in the development and adoption of the first seismic building code for Memphis and Shelby County and each subsequent seismic upgrade of the code. He was instrumental in developing the city's first anti-neglect ordinance.
For 26 years as a Founder and Managing Principal of Memphis-based Self + Tucker Architects (STA), Tucker has led his firm through its evolution from a project-focused, general practice architectural firm to a multi-faceted firm that takes a holistic and collaborative approach to plan and design. Self + Tucker Architects is an exemplary Tennessee-based firm that serves as a leader in sustainability and community-engaged design practices and has led cultural projects such as the Memphis Heritage Trail, National Civil Rights Museum, STAX Museum, and the restoration of Historic Clayborn Temple. Jimmie holds a Bachelor's degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from Princeton University and earned received his Master's degree in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis.
Alexandra Willis Bodie
After working at ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for seven years, Alexandra joined the ComCap Partners team in 2018. Experienced in project management and strategic planning, Alexandra currently manages the implementation of the South City Choice Neighborhoods Initiatives neighborhood plan. Additionally, Alexandra assists the firm’s senior management in analyzing project feasibility and researching the market and industry trends. She is currently active with the Urban Land Institute and currently serves on the board of RegionSmart.
Katie Harris is a Memphis-based philanthropist and currently serves on the founding team of Story Tellers Live Memphis. She started her career as an NCIDQ Certified designer for an architecture firm where she worked on a number of notable commercial and civic projects in Memphis. Katie is committed to Historic Clayborn Temple and has participated in all HCT programming. Believing that justice acts on the disparity between the world that exists now and the world that ought to be, Katie is passionate that Historic Clayborn Temple will be a manifestation of that action for years to come. In addition to serving on the Historic Clayborn Temple Building Committee, Katie is also an active member of the organization's Board of Directors.
Margot is an Urban Design & Preservation Planner with the City of Memphis. Holding a Masters Degree in Preservation Studies from the Tulane School of Architecture, she most recently worked as a historic preservation consultant researching and documenting historic buildings and districts for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, Federal Historic Tax Credit program applications, and the creation of architectural design guidelines for historic neighborhoods. She also provided historic materials, finishes, and design consulting for restoration and adaptive reuse projects, specializing in wood window restoration. Margot was appointed to the State Review Board of the Tennessee Historical Commission in 2018 and the Memphis Landmarks Commission in 2020.