The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center moved to a new location last month, marking the nonprofit organization's third move in 30 years.
Originally located at Prescott Baptist Church, the MSPJC has spent most of its existence at First Congregational Church in the Cooper-Young neighborhood. The new location at 3573 Southern — formerly Memphis Brew coffee shop — is double the size of the old office at First Congo.
Executive director Jacob Flowers said the organization wanted more of a presence in the community, hence the decision to relocate near the University of Memphis.
"We wanted to get out in the public eye more. It's kind of like moving out of our parents' house," Flowers said. "For the past 30 years, we've been housed in one church or another, which is great but also stuck us behind several closed doors. Here, we are out in the community and close to the university as well."
Founded in 1982 as a grassroots organization determined to realize social justice through nonviolent means, the MSPJC has seen its different programs flourish over the years, with their 2012 membership nearing 1,000.
Most recently, the center developed their GrowMemphis program into an independent nonprofit organization that is currently leading the food justice movement in the Mid-South. Flowers said that his organization's new space will be shared with GrowMemphis, as well as other social justice groups.
"This isn't just the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center anymore," Flowers said. "It's more of a social justice resource center where a few different groups can come together and share resources and keep costs down. We've still got a bit of space that we will be subleasing to other social justice groups as well."
The new location features a kitchen, computers that are available for public use, and a computer lab for the seven staff members. But with all the improvements the new location offers, the MSPJC still counts on the generosity of its members, special-event revenue, and private foundation funds to keep its doors open.
When asked if the organization will be working with the University of Memphis more often now that it's just across the train tracks, Flowers made it clear that the MSPJC is still committed to the needs of the greater Memphis area.
"Our work is very broadly targeted. We aren't focused on one specific area of social justice or one specific community," Flowers said. "We do plan on engaging with the university students more, but we aren't interested in becoming a student organization. There's too much going on in other parts of the city."