I handed him a pair of new boots and he jumped down on the ground and then rolled over onto his back. He then twisted his legs and feet outward and jumped back up. He announced, “I use to dance on Beale Street.” He told me he is 60-years old, but can still dance with the best.
He said, “They call me the Homeless Preacher,” he then started to preach. Boy did he ever preach. His voice began to change tunes as if he were growing mad. The louder he got the closer he came. As I started to photograph him he got within 7 or 8 inches of my camera lens, so I snapped away.
With a personality bigger than life you may wonder why he is homeless. He told me he has eight felonies and did time in prison. He has been a free man for almost a decade now, but boarded up houses throughout Memphis are his home. I would imagine that he sometimes preaches to a house of solitude that has no windows, only paneling where glass use to be.
I ran across the Homeless Preacher in a less desirable area of downtown Memphis filled with boarded up homes, industrial type buildings, title loan stores and businesses specializing in beer, tobacco and lottery tickets. His housing choices could vary nightly, depending on where he grows tired.
American songwriter Shawn Amos once stated about Memphis, “Memphis is the place where rock was born and Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed. It's full of contradictions, abject poverty, and riches that only music can provide.”