John T. Fisher II | Facing History & Ourselves

John T. Fisher II

Learn about John T. Fisher II, a community leader and organizer who helped united Memphis after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
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English — US


  • History
  • Human & Civil Rights

John T. Fisher II

John T. Fisher II

"Going against the Status Quo"

John T. Fisher II was a community leader and organizer who used his social and financial capital to help unite Memphis after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. His goal was to invest in all Memphians by starting conversations to heal the deep divide between races and organizing a citywide reconciliation service, “Memphis Cares,” to honor Dr. King. People from all over came to pay their respects and hear representatives from all faiths.

He created the Memphis Manpower Commission to connect business leaders with job training facilities and mitigate the disproportionate unemployment rate and subsequent racialized poverty. He went on to serve as the Vice President of the Memphis Chamber's Human Resources Division until 1972, invest in minority business start ups, and create ways to connect the underserved with the privileged.

His work sought to level the ground he knew had always been raised in his favor. Though he faced backlash from some members of the white community, he remained steady in his activism and worked to help others understand that black power was not a threat to white opportunity. John T. Fisher II worked to reconcile a legacy of oppression that benefitted him.

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