In the same week that one victim of a malignant brain tumor, U.S. Senator John McCain, was somehow managing to go hiking on his home ground and planning a return to his U.S. Capitol workplace, another so stricken public figure, attorney and former congressional candidate Ricky Wilkins, was up and going and advertising a new public venture here in Memphis.
Wilkins, who has been undergoing treatment for his illness for months, is the featured personality in an event billed as the "Mem-Power Conference," billed as "an economic, life, and game-changing opportunity for Memphians to rise up and fight the status quo."
The event is to be held on Saturday, August 5th, at 873 Vance, under the auspices of "the Honorable Louis Farrakhan's Mid-South representative, Minister Anthony Muhammad," according to an emailed notice.
Farrakhan, of course, is best remembered for having led the Million Man March, a mass assembly held in Washington in 1995 of advocates for civil justice and economic rights for African Americans.
Asked for further information on the event, Minister Muhammad deferred to Wilkins, who was reached by telephone late Monday and confirmed his participation as a way of "giving back to the community" that had nurtured him during his personal and professional career, and of encouraging under-served Memphians to take steps to address long-standing issues of a political and economic nature.
Before Wilkins, who was addressing both the facts of his illness and the "Mem-Power" event forthrightly, could elaborate further, he was compelled to deal with a law client with whom he had a prior appointment, he said. (More details about the forthcoming event will be published by the Flyer as they are learned.)
Former Mayor Willie Herenton, a long-standing friend and political ally of Wilkins, told the Flyer that he was frequently in touch with Wilkins and was well aware of both the severity of his illness and the seriousness of Wilkins' treatment regimen but had been encouraged by his friend's determination and noted, "Every time I talk with him, he sounds strong."
Wilkins had indeed sounded alert and focused over the telephone on Monday night, and he has made a point of attending some public events in recent weeks. Before his illness became known, the possibility of his renewing a Congressional bid in next year's Democratic primary or of making a mayoral bid had been much discussed locally, but reports of his medical circumstances have dampened such speculation.