The Equity Alliance proactively advocates for African Americans and other communities of color to have a fair and just opportunity at realizing the American dream. We are a Nashville-based 501(c)3 nonpartisan, non-profit organization that seeks to equip citizens with tools and strategies to engage in the civic process and empower them to take action on issues affecting their daily lives. We believe in using our voting power as a weapon in the fight for social and economic justice.

Why We Were Founded

Frustrated by social injustices and police brutality plaguing communities across America, co-founder and Co-Executive Director Charlane Oliver shares an inspiring personal story about how she channeled her anger into action to launch The Equity Alliance (TEA) shortly after the 2016 presidential election to increase voter engagement in communities of color.

Panel 1

Who We Are

black citizenship in action

Our modern-day citizenship school for black liberation



Tennessee ranks

44th 

in voter turnout.

Sadly, we also rank 45th in voter registration. In Davidson County, black and brown citizens, particularly those in North Nashville, live in precincts with the lowest voter turnout. This is not by accident.

We must flip this stat on its head.


The Equity Alliance proactively advocates for African Americans and other communities of color to have a fair and just opportunity at realizing the American dream. We are a Nashville-based grassroots non-profit advocacy group that seeks to equip citizens with tools and strategies to engage in the civic process and empower them to take action on issues affecting their daily lives.

What We Do

Expand the electorate by engaging low propensity voters and disenfranchised communities to participate in the democratic process.

Educate communities of color about the political process, about relevant economic, social, and political issues, and how impending legislation will impact their lives.

Engage and Empower citizens to take action and make their voices heard. We resist, persist, join forces, call, write, petition, assemble, and most importantly, vote.

Monitor legislation and hold our state and local elected officials accountable.

Promote Civic Leadership by encouraging people of color to take leadership roles in shaping policy on the local, state and national level.

Create alliances with individuals and groups in order to present a united front against any economic barriers that seek to marginalize, disenfranchise, or discriminate against people of color and vulnerable populations.

Our work is rooted in a set of guiding principals:

SElf-determination & freedom

We believe that the pathway to Black liberation is to ensure that we give people the information, tools, and winning strategies to exercise self-agency, to be self-determining, and have freedom of choice to make decisions on the issues impacting our lives. Having the self-determination to fully participate in our democracy is the key to our liberation.

ALL MEANS ALL

We believe that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. We must pursue and protect these rights.

COLLECTIVE BUYING POWER

We believe that there is power in numbers. We seek to use our buying power to fuel our voting power.

EDUCATION IS THE GREAT EQUALIZER

We believe that when you know better, you do better. We seek to educate individuals and communities on how to become better informed, engaged, and productive members of society.

Panel 2

What We Do

Through civic engagement, voter registration and voter education, our work centers on creating a more inclusive, informed, and stronger democracy. We believe that democracy works best when everyone has a chance to participate, has equitable access to the voting booth, and is empowered to make their own informed choices on who represents their values, interests and issues.

Co-Founder Tequila Johnson Testifies Before Congress on Protecting Voting Rights

OUR PROGRAMS

Black Citizenship in Action Academy

Black voters in Tennessee have been disenfranchised through systemic means. Representation matters, and it is important for black voters to see themselves in the democratic
process through the appointed, civic, and elected leaders in our community. We promote Civic
Leadership by encouraging people of color to take leadership roles in shaping policy on the local, state and national level. Through intensive 4-6 week learning workshops, our Black Citizenship in Action Academy will develop the next generation of black civic leaders. We intend to work to ensure that black people can exercise our full rights as citizens, and can shape our democracy to its fullest potential. We will hold local events that deepen our community’s shared understanding of our past and present, our rights as citizens, sharpen our analysis of the political landscape in which we are operating, and collectively develop winning strategies to demand a country that values our lives and strives toward justice and equality.

Tennessee Voter Guides

Our Voter Guides are free, nonpartisan, public resources to help citizens make an informed, confident decision in the voting booth on Election Day. Our guides include unbiased candidate profiles, roles of each elected office, polling locations and hours, voter ID requirements and much more. The Nashville Voter Guide is available for download at www.nashvillevoterguide.com.

Souls to the Polls
Faith-based community organizing has been a tried-and-true strategy to reach black voters since the Civil Rights Movement. In an effort to get Souls to the Polls, The Equity Alliance partners with the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship (IMF) to conduct voter registration drives at African-American churches in Nashville. Our goal is to have 100% of eligible church membership registered to vote. Volunteers are deployed to church services on Sundays to engage and register voters. We host various GOTV activities, including block parties, rallies, phone banking, and rides to the polls.

Black Women for Tennessee

We strongly believe that black women can and will make a collective impact in Tennessee. Through events like our June 6th, 2018 gathering of more than 300 black women at the Tennessee State Capitol and our Black Women’s Empowerment Brunch, we are fostering an environment that builds coalitions and bridges generational gaps. It is our goal to ensure that the votes of black women are never taken for granted; to unite all black-women-led and women-led organizations from across the state to register, inform, and mobilize voters.

Nashville Unchained

Nashville Unchained is a coalition of four of the most powerful black organizations in the city: the Nashville branch of the NAACP, the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship, Gideon’s Grassroots Army for Children, and The Equity Alliance.

Aye-For-An-Aye Statewide Listening Tour

Six months after The Equity Alliance led the Tennessee Black Voter Project that registered 91,000 black and brown Tennesseans, the State passed legislation that would enforce the country’s most aggressive civil and criminal penalties on third-party organizations that submit deficient forms during large-scale voter registration drives. The Equity Alliance has filed a lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality.

We launched the Aye for an Aye campaign as a direct response to the state’s voter suppression law. For each “aye” vote the legislation received, we pledge to register 100 voters who commit to voting in the 2020 election. To achieve this goal, we are hosting listening sessions across the state to educate attendees about the voter registration criminalization law and mobilize them to take action before the law goes into effect in October.

Panel 3

Voting Rights

Tennessee ranks 50th in voter turnout, according to a 2016 study.

Sadly, we also rank 40th in voter registration. In Davidson County, black and brown citizens live in voting precincts with the lowest voter turnout. This is not by accident. We must flip this stat on its head.

Civic engagement and voter participation are essential to preserving and protecting our democracy. But our democracy is systematically suppressing the vote for communities of color through voter ID laws, purging voters from the rolls, reduced polling times and early voting periods, and tough criminal penalties that increase mass incarceration rates.

According to a groundbreaking article in The Atlantic:

Most people adjudicated in the criminal justice system today waive the right to a trial and the host of protections that go along with one, including the right to appeal. Instead, they plead guilty. The vast majority of felony convictions are now the result of plea bargains—some 94 percent at the state level, and some 97 percent at the federal level. Estimates for misdemeanor convictions run even higher. These are astonishing statistics, and they reveal a stark new truth about the American criminal-justice system: Very few cases go to trial.

In Tennessee, 8.2% of the voting population are disenfranchised because of their criminal record. Our state further penalizes the poor based on how much money they have as a condition of getting their voting rights restored, driver’s license reinstated—which is necessary to vote, being released from jail on bond, or whether they can afford to take their case to trial.

voting rights

Racial ethnic minorities, especially black Americans, played a pivotal role in Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential wins. Now, newly released Census Bureau data confirm what many have anticipated: that both minority and black voter turnout took a decided downturn in last November’s elections

According to a Tennessean article, Nashville ranks No. 7 among large metros in wealth segregation and No. 10 among large metros when it comes to income segregation.

Wealthier people are more prone to live among themselves and poverty is more concentrated. This has implications for public safety, the quality of schools and access to good jobs.

That also has the potential to destroy the middle class, stall economic growth and concentrate poverty further.

Our aim is to remove policy barriers that make it difficult for persons of color to make their voice heard in the voting booth. We also aim to increase minority voter turnout through voter registration and education. Use online voter registration or download a Tennessee voter registration application and submit the application to your local county election commission. In order to participate in an election, a qualified voter must be properly registered no later than thirty (30) days before the election.

Panel 4

News & Events

The Equity Alliance’s Tequila Johnson Awarded Roddenberry Fellowship

NASHVILLE — Tequila Johnson, co-founder of The Equity Alliance and director of the Tennessee Black Voter Project, has won the prestigious Roddenberry Fellowship, a 12-month program for American leaders who are working to promote a more tolerant and inclusive society. The program comes with a $50,000 award for fellows to take an existing initiative to the next level … Continue reading The Equity Alliance’s Tequila Johnson Awarded Roddenberry Fellowship

The Equity Alliance Hires Executive Director

Nonprofit Co-Founder Charlane Oliver Assumes New, Full-Time Leadership Role NASHVILLE, Tenn. (November 4, 2019) — On the heels of gaining national notoriety in 2019 for scoring a legal victory against the state’s voter registration criminalization law, The Equity Alliance today announced co-founder Charlane Oliver as the nonprofit’s founding executive director. The board of directors approved … Continue reading The Equity Alliance Hires Executive Director