The VIPP Report: A Louisville church bouncing back after unrest in the city due to Breonna Taylor and pandemic

Little Flock Missionary Baptist Church uses their faith to motivate its members and the community they serve

Special Report by Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 Television, ABC Louisville

In Today’s ‘Your Story’ organizations and churches are starting to help get the COVID-19 vaccines to those in need. Even though, Little Flock Baptist Church has faced some setbacks due to their unwavering faith they press on.

In the Smoketown community sits the church on South Hancock. It’s pastor Rev. Bernard Crayton tells me of their beginnings which dates back to 1867. 

Rev. Bernard Crayton “By newly freed slaves.  The church was originally on Ormsby back in that time. They actually put the building on trees and rolled it here to the site on Hancock Street. It’s been a fixture in this community every since. It has a rich, rich, history.”  

Growing up in Cleveland Ohio.  Being a part of a family of ministers.   Rev. Crayton in April 1999 moved to Louisville in hopes of becoming a pastor of his own church. 

Crayton says “I never been to Louisville, I’ve been through Louisville but applied for the church Little Flock Baptist Church and when I got here, I knew this was the place I was supposed to be. It’s been a great blessing for the past 22 years.”

With COVID-19, he tells me how he’s been keeping up with his members to see how they are doing? Crayton: “People call in on the prayer line.  I have anywhere from 60 something people that will call in.  It’s not only my members but people from all over. I mean all over the United States.”     

Dealing with the pandemic and protests in the city last summer.  The pastor takes a call in the middle of the night that tried to break his spirit.  He tells me what was said, “Well, that was just unbelievable. One our members passed by the church and said the church doors had been shot out and I was going, WHAT!. That was right during the time when tensions were high in the city. I just couldn’t believe, I don’t know  why but I just couldn’t believe it happened to our church. When I saw where the front door windows had been shot out and bullet holes in the foyer. It really took me back.  I had a lot of people not only the black community but the white community in this city. That came and wanted to do whatever they could.”   

Turning to his faith, the pastor took a call from a company that wanted to fix their doors free of charge. Whichh renewed his faith.  Crayton said, “Even in spite of that there are still a lot of good people in this world.” 

So even though the doors of the church remain closed for services.  Little Flock wanted to find a way to help. So, they will open their doors  Saturday to help its members and the community.  Crayton says, “Saturday we are having our own pop up clinic. We have partnered with Norton Healthcare. We have been talking reservations but walk ins will be available.  Anyone who wants to come.”

Rev Crayton is trying to reassure people of color to get vaccinated.   He says “It comes from those who are just not trusting the govt. Historical things that have happened. It comes from misinformation. It comes from lies. It comes from conspiracy. And we’re trying to break all that down to make sure that people of color understand how important it is especially African Americans understand how important it is to get your shot.”

People of faith have been asking for a sign and the pastor believes this is it. “If you’ve been praying to God about a healing praying this will go away. God has given us the answer.  Its right there in front of us.  And what you need to do is just trust him. Call in and get your shot. That’s how I see it.  That’s how I really see it.”  

The church is working on renewed faith that you should never give up regardless of your situation. 

Crayton says “What I have tried to preach every single Sunday is HOPE.”

Ending Covid-19 ONE SHOT at a time vaccine clinic“ will be on Saturday, March 20th from 10:00am to 4:00pm at Little Flock Missionary Baptist Church located at 1030 S. Hancock Street.  Walk ups are welcomed but if you would like to schedule an appointment call Delane at 502-381-2354 or Charlotte at 502-494-8411. 

►Contact Your Story with Sherlene Shanklin at sshanklin@whas11.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. 

To see the story click the link ->

https://www.whas11.com/article/news/local/outreach/vaccine-clinic-at-little-flock-missionary-baptist-church-louisville-your-story/417-ffbdf381-6cd5-4266-96ab-9dbb57b0c81a

The VIPP Report: The Muhammad Ali Center announces Laura Douglas as their first Black woman interim president

Laura Douglas

By Sherlene Shanklin, Special Report with WHAS11, ABC Louisville

After nearly a decade in Louisville, Donald Lassere will leave the Muhammad Ali Center and move back to his hometown of Chicago. In his seat as president and CEO, Laura Douglas.
In ‘Your Story’ I sit down with the respected corporate leader.  

To many in the community she is called the stabilizer.  Because she helps corporations and non-profits maintain their business practices while stabilizing their leadership. 

First, Laura Douglas did it at TARC; now she’s moving to the Muhammad Ali Center; serving as its first Black woman president.  Making history in her hometown. 

Douglas discusses her family and her close connection to the city. “Well, I grew up here in the Russell neighborhood.  I had eight brothers and sisters.  We started out at James Bond Elementary School which is now Byck. I went to Western Junior High School and to Shawnee High School. 

After graduation, Douglas continued her education to become an attorney.  She explained her career path. “I started out my career as a lawyer, I’m a graduate of the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law and I’ve been a general counsel at several organizations and my most recent position was at LGE and I retired from there.  Throughout my career I have always been a volunteer and I’ve always served on a number of boards in the community.  And one of the places I invested a great deal of my board serve was here at the Muhammad Ali Center.”

As the immediate past board chair, she is now ready to get the doors of the Ali center reopened.  Douglas says “Here at the Muhammad Ali Center the good news is, it’s an outstanding organization with a very impeccable national a reputation.  My role is here is to keep the ship steady in the water as the board looks for a permanent CEO. I’m happy to do that”.

Douglas came out of retirement to take on this role, but i wanted to know if she planned to go back into retirement, as she shaped the next generation’s CEO’s at home. Douglas with a smile says “Yes, yes I will.  I was a granny and my grandchildren kinda run my life for me.”

Douglas is excited about keeping the Ali Center moving until the national search is completed which could take up to six months.  Douglas’ family is happy about her and understand the importance of the position but see what her family thinks her most important title is to them.  She says “My family is proud but one thing they remind me every day, I’m just granny as far as they are concerned and I’m mom.”

June will mark the fifth anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s passing.  The Ali Festival will honor him with his six core principles:  Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect and Spirituality. I asked Douglas did she expect the opportunities she’s seeing today?
She says “As a small child I know my mother and father encouraged all of us to expand our horizon and to dream big. I’m really fortunate to have the opportunity and to be able to continue to work in a community that I really love

Laura Douglas and Sherlene Shanklin

The Muhammad Ali Center will reopen to the public on Thursday, April 1st. 

This year’s Ali Festival will be June 4th to the 13th.

The Truth Be Told Temporary Exhibit has been extended to 2022. 

The Muhammad Ali Center is located at 144 N. 6th Street, Louisville, KY 40202. 

Contact The 411’s Sherlene Shanklin at sshanklin@whas11.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram

To see the story click the link: https://www.whas11.com/video/news/community/louisville-native-laura-douglas-named-muhammad-ali-centers-interim-president/417-738e504a-52d4-47fb-8bdd-f03f6ffcf312

The VIPP Report: Muhammad Ali’s caregiver opens up to Sherlene Shanklin for the first time since the GOAT’s passing

Special Report from Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11, Louisville

Orginially aired on January 14, 2021

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On Sunday, Muhammad Ali would have been 79. 

On June 3rd, 2016 Ali passed away and thousands lined the streets of Louisville to thank the champ who was not only a boxing champion but an activist and philanthropist respected by many across the world.

For the first time, in an exclusive interview, WHAS11 talked to the person who was his childhood friend, caregiver and sister-in-law. You saw her in many photos over the years. 

Now, Whas11’s Sherlene Shanklin tells you her story of the Champ you didn’t know.

Marilyn Williams says “Muhammad’s mother Odessa Clay and my mother Marguerite Williams were best friends.”

Their families were very close. As a child, she looked up to him as a big brother having no idea that years later she would call him her brother-in-law.

‘Lonnie Ali is my big sister,” Williams said.

Prior to working with family, she was a successful entrepreneur owning her own salon and then worked at the Ford Plant right here in Louisville.

So, when Lonnie was looking for someone to help with their business affairs and later assist Ali and with his Parkinson’s diagnosis, Marilyn was the perfect choice to be his caregiver while some even thought she was their bodyguard.

“I was his security because if you got close to Muhammad you were in trouble if you weren’t supposed to be there,” said Williams.

She talked to me about being a caregiver for Ali. “I knew I had to do the best I could do. I had to be the best. I had to be on it. I knew this man. I knew him ever since I was a child so I had to be on it.”

People always asked, could he speak after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s? Williams said, “Muhammad could smile, stars eyes would just sparkle and he talked a lot with his eyes, he talked with his voice, his hands. He definitely got his message across.”

Anytime ‘the Champ’ could get home he did and Marilyn shared this fond memory.

“Muhammad loved Louisville. You say Louisville if I was working and I said I was going on vacation. Where are you going? I said I’m going to Louisville. I wanna go.”

I also asked Williams could she tell me something about Ali people didn’t know. She sighs before answering–“Muhammad and Lonnie will say this too. He had a kind and loving heart. He saw nothing wrong with no one. He would be with kings and queens, presidents and then turn around and be with the poorest person on this earth or the sickest person on this earth. It didn’t matter to him. He loved all.”

To see everything happening in Louisville sometimes even along the street that bears his name and across the country how does that make you feel?

“Well I can’t actually speak for Muhammad because he can speak for himself but a few things he taught me and that was respect for all mankind. One thing I asked him, I was always asking him questions when I was younger growing up and he told me that there’s good and bad in every race and every religion. There’s good and bad,” Williams said.

The final question of the interview I had to ask what she misses the most about the GOAT?

With tears in her eyes, she responded by saying “His eyes, his kindness, his spirit, his spirit was so beautiful. To be around him he gave you energy. Even if there was a gray day outside he made the sunshine.”

I had to use the video one more time of Louisville’s own, the man who had no problem telling you “I’m still the greatest!!!”

Link to the WHAS11 story https://www.whas11.com/article/news/local/muhammad-ali-caregiver-marilyn-williams-talks-greatest-of-all-time-goat-champ/417-b3ecdbeb-97b1-4062-9e01-ecf439074c89

Since the story aired on WHAS11, an ABC/Tegna affiliate here’s some of the other stations that picked up my story:

King5.com, 11Alive.com, WTHR.com, 12newsnow.com, ksdk.com, WUSA9.com, kentuckydailynews.com, firstcoastnews.com, kcentv.com, wkyc.com, wfmynews2.com, WLTX.com and MSN.com.