The Persuaders help Memphis youth find their purpose

Bright Spot

If you look online, it may be hard to find much information about John Payne and his organization the Persuaders.

“I don’t try to advertise. It’s just the need,” Payne said.

I see the need and I’m one person just trying to do something in our community.

Hard work doesn’t go unnoticed within church walls and deep in Memphis neighborhoods.

“Your why is to do some of the heavy lifting for the family because you ain’t no little boy no more,” Payne said.

For 18 years, Payne’s efforts have made quite the impact. With the help of volunteers and law enforcement, they are changing the lives of the younger generations. He calls them: the Persuaders.

“They need sincere attention,” Director John Payne told us. “They don’t get it from the home. We buy things for them and I see that. I see that more and more.”

Payne uses music to hold the attention of kids. He started his own production company and opened a recording studio.

Through his musical connections from his former singing group “The Persuaders”, Payne is guiding young men on a better path.

“So, you go to school to learn so that you can gain knowledge,” Payne said. “I felt that all young men ask that question. What would your father do? What were the answers and questions? So I developed a group and took them through a 12 week class about moving from boyhood to manhood.”

With the help of leaders, mentoring in programs and media workshops, Payne created a TV program.

He conducted big-time interviews through his singing groups connections and as a youth director in church.

“We would bring so many people in here, artists and I would interview them and we would teach young people how to do the same thing,” Payne said.

Gospel Rap artist Yung Titan is both a Persuader and musician.

“If it wasn’t for persuaders I would’ve never met my wife,” Yung Titan said.

His wife Lindsay Freeman has been a Persuader since age 12. Payne incorporated young women into the program a few years ago.

Freeman now volunteers and mentors those in the group.

“From media to entertainment, I learned how to do interviews. I learned how to record an interview,” Freeman said. “I learned how to set up mics and cameras and it went from that perspective of entertainment to music.

The workplace skills she learned years ago here are now skills she uses every day and pours back into todays group as a teacher.

When you connect yourself with a local organization, especially with people that look like you, you get a cultural education. You can learn about who you are, as a black kid in Memphis.

The Persuaders travelled to attractions across the city, gaining professional knowledge and finding professions they will use for years to come.

As always, if you have someone or something you would like to feature on Bright Spot, just let me know.

You can send me an email or message me on social media.

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