Novella in the news

If you Google "Novella Smith Arnold" or search the archives of the Commercial Appeal, you'll turn up a lot of mentions. That's to be expected for an activist and an advocate for prison inmates, the mentally ill, people with AIDS, the homeless, and the poor -- not to mention a noteworthy career in the broadcast and recording industries.

We've pulled together some of the more interesting articles and links from the past 15 years. They are in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent. Click the headlines (or the [Link]) to read the full text.


The Other Commission Race Reinvented Democrat Henri Brooks vies with underdog Novella Smith Arnold of the GOP. By Jackson Baker, The Memphis Flyer, July 19, 2006. [Link to article]

Arrest Injures Man, 81 Arm broken at home; police probe incident. By Yolanda Jones, The Commercial Appeal, May 24, 2006. [Link to article]

Brooks to exit House post Legislator seeks County Commission seat. By Richard Locker, The Commercial Appeal, May 6, 2006.
NASHVILLE - State Rep. Henri Brooks, who won the Democratic nomination to a Shelby County Commission seat, said she will leave her state House post at the end of her term in November. State law apparently does not prohibit members from serving on both county and state legislative bodies but she said she will not attempt to hold both seats. Brooks won the Democratic nomination Tuesday for the County Commission's District 2, Position 2 seat. She faces Republican Novella Smith Arnold in the Aug. 3 county general election but the South Memphis district is heavily Democratic. [Link to article]


Teams take to streets with AIDS FACTS Legislator seeks County Commission seat. By Michael Kelley , The Commercial Appeal, May 15, 2005.
Nothing spoils a walk in the park like seeing a used condom in the grass. Unless it's not seeing one. That's how AIDS prevention workers see it. Every discarded sheath of latex helps hold back an HIV tide that still poses a threat in Memphis, especially among African-Americans.
[Link to article]

Violated: How the director of a local halfway house coerced his female residents to go all the way. By Mary Cashiola, The Memphis Flyer, March 3, 2005.
...It's unclear how many women Sledge may have taken advantage of during his time at Dismas. Novella Smith-Arnold was the interim chaplain at the Luttrell Corrections Center during 2002. She says several women in prison told her about encounters with Sledge but refused to speak to government investigators. One even admitted to giving him oral sex in a secluded area of the prison in exchange for a place at Dismas... [Link to external article]


Powder sender to be tested. Detention hearing on hold for mental evaluation of suspect. By Sherri Drake, The Commercial Appeal, October 8, 2004.
A federal judge Thursday ordered a mental evaluation of a Memphis man accused of sending bomb threats and envelopes filled with white powder to Florida. Federal Public Defender Steve Shankman told a judge that Dane Swindell's friends say he needs mental testing. [Link to article]


Museum stirs up joy, pride among those who lived Stax legend. By Pamela Perkins, The Commercial Appeal, April 28, 2003.
Al Bell couldn't put his finger on the right word, Novella Smith-Arnold was speechless, and Steve Cropper was touched after touring the Stax Museum of American Soul Music on Sunday... [Link to article]


'Heaven's Youngest Teenager' - Friends, fans pay respects to Rufus Thomas. By Bill Ellis, The Commercial Appeal, December 21, 2001.
As jokes were shared about his imagined entrance into the afterlife, Memphis R&B titan Rufus Thomas put smiles on people's faces one last time. "Look at me, man, ain't I clean," went one quip, borrowed from Thomas's arsenal of one-liners by fellow black radio pioneer Novella Smith-Arnold, who also noted, "The world's oldest teenager is now heaven's youngest." [Link to article]

A Sacred Send-Off. City Beat edited by Marilyn Dandler, Memphis Magazine, June 2001.
On a recent warm day, a group gathered at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis to pay respects to their friend, Robert Hunt. But this wasn’t an ordinary funeral... [Link to external article]

Allegiances clash during pledge in House. By Richard Locker, Commercial Appeal, June 2, 2001. [Link to article]


A Shepherd for Lost Souls. By Kathleen Bark, Special to The Memphis Daily News, December 22, 2000.
...Helping the most marginal members of society is what the church should be doing, said Novella Smith Arnold, who is executive director of the ministry as well as the church's prison ministry... [Link to external article]

The Forgotten Disease. Memphis has more HIV cases per capita than St. Louis or Atlanta. Some AIDS activists say we're dropping the ball. By Ashley Fantz, The Memphis Flyer, January 24, 2000 [Link to external article]


Policing the Jails. One oversight proposal is deferred, but action on a review board may be imminent. By Jackson Baker, The Memphis Flyer, June 10, 1999. [Link to external article]


Jail just like home for mentally ill. Assault suspect provokes fear, frustration. By Shirley Downing, The Commercial Appeal, October 31, 1998.
When she's not in jail, Gloria Rodgers sleeps on the steps of the Criminal Justice Center or in a rat-infested, abandoned building. This week Rodgers was arrested for the 259th time, accused in Saturday's attack on county administrator Nancy Lawhead... [Link to article]

500 Good Things About Memphis. Cover story, The Memphis Flyer, September 16-22, 1998.
...#450 - Novella Smith Arnold... [Link to external article]

Black AIDS rate prompts discussion. By Pamela Perkins, The Commercial Appeal, August 13, 1998.
The disproportionate rate of HIV cases and AIDS-related deaths among black people prompted a recent meeting of local health care officials, patients and patient's families. [Link to article]

Jones, Smith and Arnold Fail to Qualify for Sheriff. By Kriste Goad, The Commercial Appeal, March 5, 1998.
The field of candidates for Shelby County Sheriff was narrowed from eight to five Wednesday when City Councilman E.C. Jones and the race's only female candidates failed to gain certification. [Link to article]

Sheriff gets rival in GOP primary as filings for Shelby County Offices roll in. By Kriste Goad, The Commercial Appeal, February 18, 1998.
Novella Smith Arnold filed Tuesday as a Republican candidate for sheriff, pitting herself against GOP incumbent A. C. Gilless. The winner of that primary will face either Melvin Burgess or Clyde Venson, the two declared Democratic candidates in the race, and Floyd Allen Jr., an independent... [Link to article]

Mentally ill filling jails more than ever. By Shirley Downing, The Commercial Appeal, February 8, 1998.
...Karon, 64, died after a heart attack in December during the last of many stays behind bars. He had been in the Shelby County Jail for 10 weeks that time, unable to make $100 bail on a trespass charge... "He was a special, little old man whose only crime was he was mentally impaired," Novella Smith-Arnold said of the man known on the street as Ziggie... [Link to article]


Memphis ad warns nation of HIV. By Michael Kelley, The Commercial Appeal, May 8, 1997.
A public service announcement warning about the spread of the AIDS virus among jail inmates has been produced in Memphis for distribution to television stations across the country. The 30-second PSA, "Is My Mommy Ever Coming Back?",...was unveiled at a press conference Wednesday by Novella Smith Arnold, executive director of We Care Inc./Kid Care, an outreach ministry of Calvary Episcopal Church... [Link to article]

Freed convict gains escort back to jail. By John Semien, The Commercial Appeal, May 1, 1997.
..."She (Jordan) told everybody that as soon as she got out she was going to rob a bank," Arnold said. "She is not a criminal, she is a victim of the criminal justice system. Her only crime is she's mentally impaired and there's no place to put her." Arnold, who ministers to mentally and physically impaired prisoners and homeless people, spoke to Jordan Tuesday about finding a new home after her release... [Link to article]

What she wants is to get back in jail. Accolades for courage, achievement are nice, says Novella Smith Arnold, But what she wants is to get back in Jail. By Michael Kelley, The Commercial Appeal, March 21, 1997.
Prior to the ban last March [1996], Arnold was a volunteer chaplain, meeting freely with inmates on their own turf. She looked for those who didn't belong there for one reason or another - mental cases, health problems, inmates with inadequate legal representation and the like - and called on her network of volunteer doctors, lawyers and bail bondsmen to help her get them what they need.

Perkins is a typical member of the network. "I was walking down the hall minding my business one day, and she grabbed me," he said. The collar was the beginning of a complicated vehicular homicide case that took him about a year to defend. "She paid me with a steak dinner at The Pier, and I had to drive," Perkins said. "But I do it because I love her to death." [Link to article]


Big man's big voice beats life in the bad lane. By David Waters, The Commercial Appeal, May 26, 1996.
...The [Scripture] verse seemed to begin, Dear Teddy. Teddy was tired of the life. Tired of running and dealing and ducking. Tired of jail. He decided to give it up. He had met two women from the prison ministry at Calvary Episcopal Church. Teddy became their bodyguard... [Link to article]

NAACP calls for inquiry on prisoners with AIDS. By Terry Keeter, The Commercial Appeal, March 25, 1996.
The Memphis Branch of the NAACP called Sunday for an investigation into the care and treatment of Shelby County inmates who are infected with the AIDS virus. The organization, acting on a motion by Vasco Smith, also voted to look into the reasons a counselor was barred from the jail this month. [Link to article]

Vounteer counselor banned by jail; Talk about inmate AIDS suspected. By Patti Patterson, The Commercial Appeal, March 23, 1996.
A longtime prison ministry volunteer has been banned from the Shelby County Jail. Novella Smith Arnold, executive director of We Care Inc., the criminal justice ministry of Calvary Episcopal Church, no longer is allowed to visit the jail, according to a March 12 memo from sheriff's Inspector Allan Smith to captains and lieutenants. The memo gives no reason for the ban... [Link to article]

Black Radio: Telling It Like It Was (1996). A 13-part series on the role of radio in transforming the African American community in the twentieth century...produced by Jacquie Webb for Smithsonian Productions. More links: [link 1] [link 2] [link 3] [link 4]


God: Sent to jail. By Michael Donahue, The Commercial Appeal, February 17, 1995.
..."Here were all these youngsters in jail locked down 24 hours," Arnold said. "They were acting like caged animals. And that's what they were because they weren't getting any kind of nourishment. No food for thought. Nothing. So, we had to do something."... [Link to article]


An unconditional ministry: Arnold's greatest desire [PDF] By Pat Stansberry, The Memphis Times, week ending September 19, 1994.
Novella moved to Memphis where she would discover that the promise she had made to God years earlier would be manifested. It was in Memphis where she became extremely restless inside with the progress in the community and decided to get involved. [Link to PDF file, 328 KB]


The death of Hue Guy [PDF] Why was an 18-year old mental patient allowed to die in the Shelby County jail? By David Lyons, The Memphis Flyer, April 5, 1990. [Link to PDF file, 1.2 MB]