He coordinates The Teen Appeal newspaper program and advises the student chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists for The University of Memphis as well. The Teen Appeal is a city-wide high school newspaper headquartered at the Department of Journalism at The University of Memphis. Memphis City Schools’ students make up the staff and the program is funded by the Scripps Howard Foundation. The Teen Appeal is the largest circulated high school newspaper in the country with a circulation of more than 13,000 copies eight times a year.
Writing became therapy for Matthews in the early 1990s. He wrote about the happiness, sadness, confusion and pain he dealt with as an adolescent. He was recognized by teachers and students at Westside High School (Memphis) as one of the top writers in his school by his sophomore year and wrote dedication poems for schools events and programs. Matthews joined the inaugural staff of The Teen Appeal in 1997 as a reporter and photographer during his senior year of high school and earned a journalism scholarship to the University of Memphis.
The former prep basketball player and track and cross country runner served as a reporter and sports editor for The University of Memphis’ campus newspaper, The Daily Helmsman, as an undergraduate. He worked as a sports intern at the Birmingham Post-Herald in Summer 2002 and for The Associated Press as an editorial assistant in Spring 2002. Matthews also interned with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies as a media relations associate and wrote for their website, www.grizzlies.com, in 2001 following an internship with The Commercial Appeal as a sports intern in 2000. Matthews also received the University of Memphis’ Journalism Department Newspaper/Editorial Student of the Year 2003 Award and the National Association of Black Journalists U of M Chapter, Excellence Award in Sports Writing in 2003. He later earned a master’s degree in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from The University of Memphis in 2008 and was accepted to the doctoral program in Higher and Adult Education at the U of M the following semester. Still, with all the accolades, Matthews felt like he had not written enough. He wanted to tell deeper stories. The thought that he might help today’s youth by telling of the many trials he persevered through growing up as a Black man in America made him think the trials might have been worthwhile.
Family and friends had been asking for years, when Matthews would release his first book. A lecture and advice from film maker Spike Lee inspired the 30 year old to take that step. Lee told a recent University of Memphis graduate, “You don’t go to film school to learn how to make films. You go to film school to get access to what you need to make films.” Lee lectured at in the Rose Theatre at The University of Memphis April of 2010. He talked about the action necessary to make things happen and said that waiting on other people to live out your dreams for you is not the answer. His talk moved Matthews. Initially Matthews was going to direct a short film, but a talk with his younger brother Greg encouraged him to write a book. Greg reminded Matthews that he had been a writer all his life and that he should use his gift to write a book rather than write, direct and produce a movie.
Matthews took the paternity excerpt from his autobiography, From the Hood to the Hooded, to be released in 2012 and started writing, I Am Not the Father.