Capt. Ken Chapman | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Capt. Ken Chapman


Sept. 9, 2011

Capt. Ken Chapman claims he taught Aretha Franklin how to do the Bankhead bounce for a performance at the opening ceremony for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. She was going to sing "Respect," and he thought the move would work great when she got to the "sock-it-me, sock-it-me, sock-it-me" part.

"White boy teaching the Queen of Soul to dance," Chapman says Franklin told him. "But she did it."

Back then, Chapman ran his own promotional company. He said God called him a few years ago to go down a different path. A fourth-generation Salvationist, Chapman answered that call by joining the Salvation Army.

Chapman, 54, came to Jackson two years ago with his wife, Capt. Jessie Chapman. He says there's much work to be done here, but he always thinks the community needs self-esteem.

"Sometimes it takes an outsider to come in to tell you how good you are," Chapman said at Friday Forum at Koinonia Coffee House. He listed the economic positives: a thriving I-55 corridor, a large medical community, and a multitude of colleges and universities. "You have 40,000 college students. You are a college town, and you don't act like it." Too often, Mississippians get depressed hearing over and over again that they are the fattest, the dumbest and the slowest, he said.

"We are declaring war on the sense of entitlement," he told the crowd of about 40 people. He talked about past abuses of Salvation Army programs, such as Angel Tree, and how, at first, it made him angry. He got over his anger, he said, and started finding ways to get families the resources they need so they don't come to rely on social agencies. For example, Chapman talked about a group of women who took basic classes to learn how to write checks and save money. Those women agreed to save $10 a month for each of their children. In November, BankPlus will match the money each woman saved.

Chapman wants people to put his war declaration in context. "We are the Salvation Army. We will not stop helping people. That is our mission," he said.

He told the group that the Salvation Army's $7.5 million facility on Beasley Road will open in January. The 37,000-square-foot structure will be on grounds with a walking track, splash pads, an outdoor pavilion and a caretaker's cottage. When it opens, it will contain a performing arts conservatory with affordable music, dance and art classes.

Chapman, who grew up in Savanna, Ga., attended Armstrong Atlantic State University there. He earned two master's degrees in music education from Georgia State University. He and his wife have three children.

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