Our TEAm is growing! We’re looking for dynamic, bold leaders to fill the following positions: Administrative Assistant, Statewide Organizer, Advocacy Campaign Manager, and Communications Intern. Check out our Jobs & Internships page for full descriptions.
Interested applicants are encouraged to apply by January 27, 2020 and submit a resume and cover letter to email@example.com.
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 the move by unanimous vote.
Oliver previously served as the board chair for the past three years since its inception. Under her leadership, she has catapulted the organization into an award-winning, nationally-recognized, influential powerhouse.
In 2018, the organization led a statewide coalition that registered 91,000 black and brown Tennesseans to vote and increased black voter turnout by 413 percent for the November midterms. In 2019, the organization’s 501(c)4 — The Equity Alliance Fund — joined forces with two of the most powerful grassroots organizations in Nashville to form the Nashville Justice League and elect the most diverse Metro Council in the city’s history. Of their 15 endorsements, 13 Metro Council candidates won, including a board member from The Equity Alliance.
Oliver’s appointment comes as The Equity Alliance, a Nashville-based grassroots nonprofit focused on voting rights advocacy and increasing civic engagement in communities of color, prepares to celebrate its third anniversary and expand its statewide presence.
“I am extremely excited and humbled at the opportunity to pour my passion, time and talent into an organization that I helped build,” Oliver said. “The Equity Alliance has been able to leverage 100 percent volunteer capacity and strong community support to establish ourselves as a trusted and respected voice for the black community on voting rights issues and racial equity issues. Now it’s time to take our work to the next level, and I’m ready for the challenge.”
Oliver brings more than 14 years of award-winning experience in nonprofit management, civil service, communications, community relations, and movement building strategies. In her new role, she will lead the development and implementation of programming for civic education, community organizing, Census awareness, leadership development and issue advocacy.
Prior to becoming The Equity Alliance’s executive director, Oliver served in U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper’s Nashville office as a community liaison and communications strategist. She spearheaded Project Register, a nonpartisan voter registration initiative that engaged more than 215 Middle Tennessee companies to encourage online voter registration among their employees.
Oliver currently serves on board of directors for the Metro Nashville Emergency 911 Communications District Board, Purpose Preparatory Academy, and Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee.
A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Oliver graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.S. in human and organizational development and holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She has called Tennessee home for the past 18 years.
Happy Juneteenth! Today is our Independence Day! A day to celebrate and reflect.
The Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in the United States on January 1, 1863, but it was not until June 19, 1865, two and a half years later, that word reached Galveston, Texas that slavery had been abolished.
While this country has come a long way since June 1865, the work to ensure that Black people can exercise our full rights as citizens to shape this democracy to its fullest potential still remains.
That’s why today we are proud to announce our partnership with 12 Black-led organizations across the country and our national partners, Black Progressive Action Coalition (BPAC) and BlackPAC, to launch Black Citizenship In Action.
Over the next two years in states across the country, from Michigan to California and from Louisiana to Ohio, local partners like The Equity Alliance 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.
Within 30 days and with minimal debate, the Tennessee General
Assembly today swiftly passed legislation to criminalize the voter
registration process, making our state the first in the nation to
assess civil and criminal penalties on individuals and organizations
who conduct voter registration drives.
On the heels of one of the state’s most successful voter registration
campaigns aimed at registering black and brown citizens, this law
is blatantly racist and mirrors the Jim Crow-era intimidation used to
stifle decades of progress our nation and our state has made to
ensure voting rights for people of color.
As a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose core mission strives
to make our democracy more inclusive, it is evident that our state
leaders want to further disenfranchise poor, black, and brown
This groundbreaking law puts handcuffs on our state’s ability to rise above our low voter participation rates, but we will find new, creative ways to continue registering voters.
Monday, April 15 4:00 p.m. CT Tennessee State Capitol 600 Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd., Nashville, TN 37243
Please arrive at 3:45 pm CT. We will begin the rally shortly after. We will then walk to the House Chambers to let our state legislators know to oppose HB1079 before the floor vote at 5 p.m.
Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett is proposing new restrictions and penalties for voter registration drives in Tennessee.
Secretary Hargett’s proposal would create restrictive regulations and the country’s most aggressive penalties* for voter registration drives that don’t precisely follow their new regulations — up to a $10,000 fine and a criminal misdemeanor.
Although we have numerous concerns about specific provisions of the bill, we believe that, if enacted, the overall effect of the bill will be to deter third-party individuals and groups from engaging in constitutionally protected activity of helping others vote. It is the combination of seemingly innocuous preregistration requirements such as preregistration, training, certifying that one will obey the law, providing tracking numbers for mailing of registration forms, ensuring that there are no “deficient” forms—in the context of potentially draconian criminal and civil penalties—that will have a chilling effect on voter registration drives. The bill’s text and application are overbroad, confusing, ambiguous, and worst of all needlessly intimidating. Even with Representative Rudd’s proposed amendment that exempts unpaid individuals and groups registering voters from the bill’s requirements, the bill threatens to punish community members, faith groups, and civic organizations that, in good faith, lawfully run drives that register eligible voters who otherwise would not have registered.
ACT NOW! On Monday, April 15th, the full House of Representatives will be voting on HB1079 (Rudd), which seeks to impose restrictive regulations on organizations and community volunteers doing voter registration drives. If passed, this would create the country’s most aggressive penalties for voter registration drives that don’t follow the new regulations – up to $10,000 fine and a criminal misdemeanor.
At a time when our state has one of the country’s lowest voter participation rates, Tennessee should be looking for ways to encourage voter engagement – not suppress it. Instead of fighting for reforms that actually increase voter participation, like same-day registration and automatic voter registration at the DMV, this bill would penalize voter registration drives.
Will you take 1 minute to send a message to the committee members and urge them to keep voter registration legal in TN by voting NO on SB0971(Jackson)/HB1079(Rudd)?
Here is The Equity Alliance toolkit. It has talking points, messaging, event info on the Tuesday press conference, a link to the call to action tool to email all elected officials on the state and local committee, sample phone scripts and phone numbers for all legislators!
felony conviction is life changing, and that’s putting it mildly. Imprisonment,
restitution, and stigma are almost insurmountable obstacles for a formerly
incarcerated person. The ways in which a conviction of this magnitude disrupts
one’s life does not conclude at the end of a jail sentence or probation. Some
states strip away the opportunity to own a gun, to travel out of the country, to
work for certain employers, or to receive public assistance such as housing or
grants for higher education.
many ways, the most egregious of these losses is the loss of the right to vote.
Voting provides a voice to the otherwise voiceless. It ensures that the will of
the people gets reflected in the laws and policies that dictate everything from
school funding and sidewalks to tax reform and anti-discrimination in public
incarcerated individuals who have arguably been among the most affected by the
decisions of elected officials are cut off from the very process that protects
their interests. In Tennessee, more than 421,000 people have completed their
sentences and, while they go to work, pay taxes and contribute to their
communities in a number of meaningful ways, they are denied access to the
voting booth. Tennessee has the fourth highest disenfranchisement rate in the
country and consistently ranks last in voter participation. Voter suppression
and other tactics make it difficult to vote in Tennessee. Most concerning are
the well-known statistics surrounding the incarceration rates for people of
color and the affect that has on these communities. According to the Federal
Bureau of Prisons, 37% of all federally incarcerated individuals are
African-American, an astounding figure considering that African-Americans make
up only 13% of the population.
revocation of voting rights for those who have been incarcerated touches the
black population in proportions that are not seen in any other racial
demographic. In essence, a larger percentage of black people than any other
race are legally kept from the voting booth as continued punishment for an
offense for which they have already served a sentence. In fact, 1 in 5 African
Americans cannot vote in Tennessee due to a past felony conviction. It begs the
question: is the revocation of voting rights an ethical, reasonable, or even
pragmatic punishment for those who have committed felonies?
Tennessee, those who have been incarcerated are not given the opportunity to
restore that right unless they take steps to navigate a convoluted restoration
process. The process includes financial requirements that are prohibitive
for many people. Tennessee is the only state in the country that requires all
court-ordered child support to be paid as a condition of having one’s voting
rights restored. This sends yet another signal that we value those who have the
means to pay for their freedom rather than providing access equitably.
The Equity Alliance believes in fair and equal access to the ballot box for all eligible voters. That’s why TEA, along with with several advocacy organizations, such as the ACLU, Americans For Prosperity, Project Return, and Think Tennessee support a new bill that would make the voter restoration process much easier. The bill removes financial obligations and streamlines the administrative process. It puts the burden on the State rather than the individual.
On Wednesday, the Tennessee State Senate will vote on Senate Bill 0589/House Bill 0547, a bill that will move Tennessee one step closer to making it easier for those who have paid their debt to society to vote. It is imperative that Tennesseans hold elected officials responsible and support this bill. The erosion of voting rights for any demographic is unjust, and it is especially troubling when minority communities are disproportionately affected. We will be at the hearing on Tuesday, March 26 at 8:00 a.m., and we hope you’ll join us. You can also call the State Senators on the committee. It takes action from all of us.
NASHVILLE, TN – On Wednesday, February 13th, at 2:45 pm,
lawmakers, Matthew Charles, advocates and re-entry experts will gather at the
Tennessee State Capitol complex in Nashville to discuss new bills (SB 589 / HB 547) that will streamline the voting rights restoration
process to Tennesseans with felony convictions who have completed their
The roundtable will feature the bill sponsors, State Senator
Steven Dickerson and State Representative Michael Curcio, alongside Matthew
Charles, a formerly-incarcerated activist who was recently released under the
First Step Act, as well as prominent advocates and prisoner re-entry experts
from The Equity Alliance, the ACLU of Tennessee, and Project Return. Over the
course of the roundtable, participants will discuss the substance of the
legislation, its potential to limit bureaucratic interference in the rights
restoration process, and its impact on formerly incarcerated people living in
Currently, 320,000 Tennesseans with felony convictions, more
than 8 percent of the state’s total voting age population, are disenfranchised
by the onerous restoration process despite having already served their time and
successfully completed their parole and/or probation.
The roundtable will be moderated by Colin Weaver, Director of State Affairs for Secure Democracy. Roundtable participants include:
Tennessee State Senator Steve Dickerson
Tennessee State Representative Michael Curcio (opening remarks)
Matthew Charles, formerly-incarcerated activist released from prison under the First Step Act
Tori Venable, State Director at Americans for Prosperity Tennessee
Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director of ACLU of Tennessee
Tequila Johnson, Co-Founder and Vice President of The Equity Alliance (opening remarks)
Bettie Kirkland, Executive Director of Project Return
The roundtable will be open to the press and the public.
WHAT: Roundtable on Restoring Voting Rights to Tennesseans With Felony Convictions
Black Women to Sound Off on Roe v. Wade, Issues with Phil Bredesen
The Equity Alliance Fund to gather 30 voters for Black Women’s Roundtable Sept. 19
WHO:Governor Phil Bredesen
Kyonzte Toombs, The Equity Alliance Fund Board President
Charlane Oliver, The Equity Alliance Board President
30 black women voters
WHAT:Black Women’s Policy Roundtable. In an effort to leverage our collective voice for the November midterm election in Tennessee, The Equity Alliance Fund – the 501(c)4 advocacy affiliate of The Equity Alliance – and its Black Women for Tennessee coalition is hosting a Black Women’s Policy Roundtable with Governor Phil Bredesen, candidate for U.S. Senate. The roundtable will gather 30 college-educated, black women registered voters to sound off on issues of concern to them and how they want to see their issues championed by Gov. Bredesen, if elected.
WHEN:Wednesday, September 19, 2018 – 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
WHERE:Urban League of Middle Tennessee, 50 Vantage Way, Suite 201, Nashville, TN 37228
WHY: As one of the largest and most loyal voting blocs, black women in Tennessee refuse to have their vote and their voice taken for granted. The central issue will be women’s health and reproductive rights and the vulnerability of Roe v. Wade if Judge Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Viewpoints shared will be related The Equity Alliance’s Fund Four-Point Policy Agenda: Economic Equality, Education, Criminal Justice Reform, and Voting Rights/Protecting the Ballot. This is the second of two events scheduled with the Bredesen campaign. The first took place on Saturday, July 14 at City Winery, where Gov. Bredesen addressed an audience of more than 400 black women and community leaders at the inaugural Black Women’s Empowerment Brunch hosted by The Equity Alliance.
About Black Women for Tennessee
Black Women for Tennessee is a statewide nonpartisan coalition consisting of 25 black-women-led and women-led organizations and more than 600 individual black women committed join forces to register voters, inform voters, and get voters to the polls for the November 2018 midterm election. Learn more at theequityalliance.org/blackwomenfortn.
About The Equity Alliance Fund
The Equity Alliance Fund is the 501(c)4 affiliate issues advocacy organization for The Equity Alliance, a Nashville-based 501(c)3 nonprofit 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. Our work focuses on Voter Registration, Voter Education, Voter Restoration, Election Protection, Civic Leadership, and Voting Rights Policy. Learn more at theequityalliance.org.
Today, the Davidson County Election Commission voted 5-0 to clear the way for a referendum on the November 6th ballot for a community oversight board. This is a result of the months-long hard work by the Community Oversight Now coalition to add a Metro charter amendment for police accountability. After two black men – Jocques Clemmons and Daniel Hambrick – were gunned down in the back by two white Metro Nashville Police officers within 18 months, the public has once again called for police accountability.
As we said in our statement last week, we support a community oversight board for Nashville. But not everyone thinks so. The Nashville Fraternal Order of Police challenged the validity of the petition signatures today. Now that the ballot measure will go forward, they, yet again, intend to block citizens from engaging in the civic process by appealing the election commission’s decision.
We call these distractions.
On the state level, Governor Bill Haslam granted clemency to four Tennessee inmates last month. Meanwhile, he continues to ignore the national and local outcry to grant clemency for Cyntoia Brown. In response, we sent him this letter.
Does Gov. Haslam think we’ll forget about Cyntoia Brown? We call BS on these distractions.
Yesterday, President Donald Trump called his former White House aide – and the highest ranking black woman on his staff – a “lowlife” “dog.” He continues to ratchet up dog whistle rhetoric directed toward blacks and women. Stay woke, because that same day, Ben Carson, his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development pushed to bring back housing discrimination and segregation.
Again, the president’s tweets are all distractions.
Our recent political climate has been frustrating, to say the least. We get it. You’re feeling hopeless, indifferent, angry, and even defeated.
Stay woke. Be vigilant. Be encouraged. There’s a way out of this, and that’s to vote. Vote out those elected officials who don’t represent your values or value black lives. We want all people of color to have a fair and just opportunity at realizing the American dream. But we know the current status quo can’t continue.
Like many others in the Nashville community, we were disturbed and outraged at the video released by Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk of the fatal officer-involved shooting of Daniel Hambrick. The killing of black men and women at the hands of police is a serious matter, as it conjures up a decades-long history of Jim Crow era state-sanctioned racial violence by police in predominantly black communities.
There have been two officer-involved shootings less than two years apart under Chief Steve Anderson’s leadership. Countless other incidents and formal complaints involving black Nashvillians have previously gone unresolved or ignored. The community continues to be distrustful of his leadership based on his refusal or willful neglect to correct and rectify past grievances by residents. In order for any healing and trust to be restored, or for any effective change in policy to occur within the Metro Nashville Police Department, Chief Anderson must not be at the helm. Therefore, we call for Chief Anderson to step down, and if this does not happen, we call on Mayor David Briley to immediately remove him from his position. We also demand that individuals from marginalized communities in Nashville have input in the selection of a new chief.
The Equity Alliance aims 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 applaud Nashvillians who use tools readily available to them to be engaged in the civic process. This includes the right to petition, the right to peacefully assemble, meeting with their appointed and elected officials and voting, to name a few. When local government impedes on our ability to be engaged citizens, we find this deeply problematic.
In the year leading up to Daniel Hambrick’s death, community groups, constituents and grieving families repeatedly sought meetings with Chief Anderson, only to be turned away and blacklisted. When Gideon’s Army released the evidence-based “Driving While Black” report, it was met with criticism and called “morally disingenuous” by Chief Anderson. When initial efforts to create a community oversight board were launched, local government officials conspired to bring the New York-based Policing Project to Nashville to diminish these efforts. When the Community Oversight Now coalition delivered to Metropolitan Clerk Elizabeth Waites twice the number of petition signatures required to place a proposed charter amendment on the November 6th ballot, she refused to do her job — paid by taxpayers — to certify the petitions. This act of defiance was met with no reprimand or accountability.
These are not merely isolated incidents. But rather collective evidence of a local government that has gone rogue from the people it’s supposed to serve. This is wrong.
During Mayor David Briley’s press conference, he called for a comprehensive review of policing practices. While we appreciate his commitment to working with community leaders to bring police oversight – a stark contrast from the previous administration, we believe his proposal to bring the Policing Project to Nashville falls short. Not only does this undermine the credible work that has already been done by local black-led community organizations, but the optics of this decision sends a message that local black-led groups cannot be trusted with resources to solve our own community issues. Therefore, we stand in solidarity with Community Oversight Now to support a community oversight board in Nashville and urge Mayor Briley to do the same. The signatures of more than 8,200 residents should not be ignored. This is what the people want.
Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Daniel Hambrick and hope that justice is served for them.
The Equity Alliance advocates for African Americans and other communities of color to have a fair and just opportunity to realize the American dream. There is nothing more foundational to American success than obtaining a high-quality education. A free and public education should be the birthright for every child in our city.
Metro Nashville Public Schools serves 71% minority students with African Americans consisting of 42% of this population. If our goal is to ensure Nashville’s children have the best head start in life, then the equitable distribution of resources for public schools is a universal start. If Nashville is to really be the It City, we MUST be deliberate in supporting all communities, especially those who have historically been overlooked. This cannot happen if our schools are forced to continue operating without being fully funded.
The proposed budget for MNPS is an additional $45 million, but Metro is offering $5 million to operate next year. In the past, Nashville’s public school system made up about 50% of the city’s budget. The proposal set to go before the Metro Council this month leaves schools at close to 41%. In fact, a piece of school property will be sold for $13 million to even meet that percentage. Schools are closing, academic programs are being cut, and even the free school lunch program is seeing major reductions if this happens. At a time when corporations and private entities are being financially supported by our city, why should our public schools be begging for coins?
Nashville’s children should have access to the best possible education, and Superintendent Dr. Shawn Joseph needs the support of the school board, Metro Council, and Mayor’s office to lead the district’s academic progress.
On Tuesday, the Metro Council will be taking public comments on the proposed budget. We urge our elected officials to find more funding for our schools.
Make Your Voice Heard
Metro Council Meeting Tuesday, June 5 6:30 p.m. Metro Courthouse Building 1 Public Square, Nashville, TN 37201 – 2nd Floor
As a recap to Soul to the Polls and as we gear up for the next August midterm election, local prominent faith leaders will share about the importance of “Faith-Based Political Engagement” and their experience partnering with The Equity Alliance for Souls to the Polls. This month’s TEAm meeting will be a call to action for other faith leaders (of any denomination) to get involved with nonpartisan voter registration and turnout.
The Equity Alliance board members will also share upcoming initiatives and opportunities that guests in attendance can participate in for the August 2nd election. Come prepared to take action and get to work!
SPEAKERS: Pastor James Turner, II, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church and President of Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship (IMF) Pastor John Faison, Sr., Watson Grove Baptist Church Bishop Joseph Walker, III, Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Free and open to the public.
The Equity Alliance hosts a TEAm meeting on the last Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at Lee Chapel AME Church. Meetings are open to the public and interested volunteers.
THE EQUITY ALLIANCE & THE INTERDENOMINATIONAL MINISTER’S FELLOWSHIP TO HOST “VOTING IS LIT” COMMUNITY BLOCK PARTY
Nonprofit aims to increase African-American turnout during first Saturday of early voting April 21
Nashville, Tenn. (APRIL 9, 2018) – On the heels of releasing its inaugural Nashville Voter Guide with more than 929 downloads in its first two weeks, The Equity Alliance is now gearing up for its Community Block Party to energize the community during the May 1 primary election early voting period. The “Voting is Lit” Community Block Party will be held Saturday, April 21 from Noon to 4 p.m. at Hartman Park Community Center, located at 2801 Tucker Road near the Bordeaux Library precinct.
The event will include a kid’s corner, live performances, a Greek showcase and stroll off featuring local fraternities and sororities, music, food and a party bus to shuttle attendees to go vote at the Bordeaux Library. Robert “Black Rob” Higgins will be hosting along with local 92Q on-air personality DJ C-Wiz.
“There are several reasons that hinder voter turnout in Nashville, including lack of education and awareness of who’s on the ballot,” said The Equity Alliance Founder and Board President Charlane Oliver, “One of the steps we took this year was to educate the community by releasing the 2018 Nashville Voter Guide. The next step is to engage the community with programs and events like this one.”
Early voting has its advantages. Citizens can vote at any early voting location that is most convenient and can vote during a time that best fits their personal schedule. Through their partnership with the Interdenominational Minister’s Fellowship (IMF) to launch Souls to the Polls, The Equity Alliance will shuttle attendees to vote at the Bordeaux Library precinct throughout the event.
“Research has shown that when poll parties are held near a voting precinct in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, voter turnout is likely to increase,” says Tequila Johnson, The Equity Alliance co-founder, vice president and event organizer. “We are so appreciative of organizations like IMF. The support of the Nashville churches and other organizations across the city has been vital to our mission to build coalitions and alliances.”
The mission of The Equity Alliance is to increase minority voter participation and foster civic engagement. Tennessee ranks 50th in voter turnout and 40th in voter registration. In Davidson County, people of color live in precincts with the lowest voter turnout.
Established in January 2017, The Equity Alliance proactively advocates for communities of color to have a fair and just opportunity at realizing the American dream. As a Nashville-based, nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, The Equity Alliance equips citizens with tools and strategies to engage in the civic process and empower them to take action on issues affecting their daily lives. Our work is achieved through four areas: Voter Registration, Voter Education, Voter Restoration, and Voting Rights. Learn more at www.theequityalliance.org or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Happy Tuesday! We’d like to give a warm welcome and introduction to Kelby House Garner, Ed.D., our newest TEAm Lead for Volunteer Engagement. She will be managing operations for our Souls On The Rolls and Souls To The Polls civic engagement campaigns this year.
Dr. Kelby House Garner is a native of Brownsville, Tennessee, and has been a resident of Nashville since 1998. Dr. Garner currently serves as the Dean of Instruction for MNPS Virtual School, where she supervises all Virtual School partnerships with over 30 MNPS schools that offer virtual courses on a part-time basis. Dr. Garner also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Tennessee State University and Trevecca Nazarene University.
After graduating from John Overton High School, Dr. Garner earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Tennessee State University. For several years, Garner served as an adult case manager and school counselor to individuals with mental illness. She is a graduate of Carson-Newman University having studied educational leadership, earning both an Educational Specialist and Doctor of Education Degree. She is a member of Olive Branch Church, the Nashville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and recently recognized as one of the 100 Leading African Americans in Nashville in 2018.Dr. Garner is a true servant leader with a passion for serving the community and we’re so grateful she chose to serve through The Equity Alliance!
Yesterday, the voters of Alabama voted on the right side of history, electing Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate in what was a controversial race against an accused pedophile and bigot, Roy Moore. In a staunchly conservative state, the outcome was far from decisive and was contingent on whether African-American voters in the Black Belt would turn out to vote. Indeed, they came out in record numbers since 2012 with 98% of Black women and 93% of Black men going for Doug Jones. Black voters spoke collectively in a resounding voice to reject systemic oppression and changed the course of history. The nation witnessed that Black Votes Matter.
Worth noting is the significant role that Latino men and women played in giving Jones the extra boost over the finish line.
It is clear that people of color made a difference.
Black voters, particularly Black women, have demonstrated loyalty to the Democratic Party for many years, and we are now witnessing the power of courting this demographic in elections. It’s time to stop taking the Black vote for granted. The Democratic Party owes Black voters in Alabama a HUGE thank you.
Doug Jones has a long history with the black community that motivated voters, given his work as a federal prosecutor who successfully took down two members of the Ku Klux Klan for the notorious 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church that killed four black girls. Deep engagement, long relationships, and lots of trust with black and brown voters is what should gain our vote.
Let this be a lesson to Tennessee politicians that people of color hold the keys to winning any election. Also, let this be a lesson to Black voters in Nashville: when we show up to the polls, we win elections!
And remember: our responsibility as informed and engaged citizens does not end at the voting booth. Voting is just the first step. Holding our elected officials accountable while in office is where the real victory is won.
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 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. Donate online.
Want to know what criminal justice and education bills were passed and debated this year in the Tennessee General Assembly? How will the Metro Council’s budget affect you and your neighborhood?
Join us on Tuesday, July 25 at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church Capitol Hill to hear first-hand from our state and local elected officials. In our effort to bring equitable change to communities of color by building informed, engaged minority voters, we’ll discuss everything from body cameras and teacher pay raises to new developments and traffic congestion. Bring your questions!
Confirmed Panelists include:
Rep. Brenda Gilmore
House District 54
Member House Finance, Ways and Means Committee
Rep. Harold Love, Jr.
House District 58
Member, House Finance, Ways and Means Committee
Member, House Education Instruction and Programs Committee
Councilwoman Erica Gilmore
At-Large Metro Council Member
Budget & Finance Committee Member
Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher
Metro Council Member for District 58
Vice Chair, Budget & Finance Committee
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Equity Alliance, a new 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on building informed and engaged minority voters, is hosting a voter registration drive Thursday, July 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the popular pizza spot, Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria.
Patrons who register on the spot will be entered to win a free Slim and Husky’s pizza.
Capitalizing on the long wait line, volunteers from The Equity Alliance will also conduct a three-question survey asking about previous voting behavior.
“There is a culture and mentality in the African-American community of believing that one’s vote does not matter,” said Board President Charlane Oliver. “We are interested in learning what factors drive this behavior, and how can The Equity Alliance improve our efforts to change the mentality around voting as a mechanism for social change.”
Tennessee currently ranks 50th in voter turnout and 40th in voter registration, according to nonpartisan think tank Think Tennessee.
In Tennessee, voters can be purged from the voter rolls if he or she fails to respond to notices to update their registration record over a period of two consecutive November elections. This can disproportionately lead to voter suppression in communities of color where there is a history of frequently changing addresses.
Patrons will have the opportunity to update their voter contact information during the voter drive. The event will end at sundown.
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. Established in January 2017, The Equity Alliance is a Nashville-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that seeks to eliminate policy barriers related to criminal justice reform, voting rights and public education; equip citizens with tools and strategies to engage in the civic process; and empower them to take action on issues affecting their daily lives in an effort to bring about equitable, systemic change in our communities. Learn more at www.theequityalliance.org or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In Tennessee, July 1 is when bills that were passed and signed by the Governor usually take effect as law. We’ve got a rundown of laws you need to know about. We’re not surprised that some of our legislators continue to pass laws rooted in hate, fear, division and exclusion. We’ve highlighted a few of the good, the bad, and the ugly of what the Tennessee General Assembly passed this year.
The cost of expunging a conviction has been reduced from $350 to $180
Thanks to Rep. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) and Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville), Tennesseans with a criminal record – many of whom live in poverty due to unemployment – will have a cheaper time getting their records expunged. It immediately became a law on May 25, 2017.
Gas taxes help to improve roads
Depending on how you look at this, the Governor’s IMPROVE Act will pump $248 million additional dollars into the budget to pay for 962 road construction projects in Tennessee. The law cuts taxes on groceries. It also gives $70 million to counties and $35 million to cities like Nashville to fund mass transit to alleviate traffic congestion.
The tax on a gallon of gas is going up by 4 cents on July 1, and then 1 cent each of the following two years, adding up to 6 cents total. The tax on diesel fuel is going up by a total of 10 cents over the next three years. The cost to register a vehicle in Tennessee will increase by $5 for passenger motor vehicles, $10 for buses and taxis and $20 for semis and tractor trailers. Electric vehicles will have an additional $100 registration fee.
HBCUs get some love by Love
Rep. Harold Love (D-Nashville) pushed a bill through that creates a new initiative and assigns personnel to assist Tennessee’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities with increasing enrollment, retention, and graduation rates by working with school presidents and administrators.
Adults in Tennessee can attend community college for free
Tennessee became the first state in the nation to offer all citizens – both high school graduates and adults – the chance to earn a postsecondary degree or certificate free of tuition and fees and at no cost to taxpayers. Take advantage of this!
Pre-K and Kindergartners cannot be expelled or suspended
A law by Sen. Reginald Tate (D-Memphis) and Rep. Raumesh Akbari protects students in pre-kindergarten through kindergarten (pre-K-K) from being suspended or expelled from school, unless the student’s behavior endangers another student or staff person.
Teachers are getting more money for classroom supplies
Currently, $200 is set aside for every public teacher in K-12 for instructional supplies. A new law removes the requirement that half of the funds be pooled and instead allocates the entire amount to each teacher for instructional supplies as determined necessary by the teacher.
Board of Parole must have experience
A Senate bill (SB275) ensures that at least one member of the Board of Parole has corrections experience. Go figure.
Police officers’ identities are protected
It is now a misdemeanor offense to release the identity of a law enforcement officer’s resident address to the public. This will make officer-involved shooting investigations that much more secretive.HB0560
Tougher penalties for crimes against law enforcement officers
People who target uniformed police, military or national guardsmen can face tougher sentencing. But wait, where are the laws protecting unarmed black men killed by police?
Protestors are NOT protected
Forget having your First Amendment right, now you can be fined $200 for blocking emergency vehicles during a protest. Wanna keep black and brown people from protesting? Make it a law. Seems like this has been directed at Black Lives Matter.
Pregnant women are banned from getting an abortion after 20 weeks.
Credit cards can charge 30 percent interest
A law increases the maximum annual interest rate that a bank may charge on credit card accounts from 21 percent to 30 percent. Yep, let’s keep poor people poor and enslaved to the lender.
Soros Justice Fellow and Middle Tennessee State University Professor of History Pippa Holloway, Ph.D. joins The Equity Alliance at its June 27 TEAm Meeting to present her talk, “FelonyDisenfranchisement: Past, Present, and Strategies for the Future.” The meeting begins at 6 pm at First Baptist Church Capitol Hill, 625 Rosa L Parks Blvd, in the fellowship hall.
Pippa Holloway will discuss her research on the racial motivations behind the expansion of felony disenfranchisement in the post-Civil War South as well as laws in Tennessee today that deny voting rights to a startlingly high number of ex-offenders. Why is Tennessee so far behind the rest of the nation? What strategies have brought changes in other states?
Dr. Holloway is the author of three books, including Living in Infamy: Felon Disfranchisement and the History of American Citizenship (Oxford Books), and is a 2007 Soros Justice Fellow. She earned her doctorate in history from The Ohio State University, master’s degree in history from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. View her full Curriculum Vitae here.
The Equity Alliance is committed to restoring the voting rights for Nashville’s most vulnerable and disenfranchised communities. As one of our core issues, voting rights are critical to ensuring Africans Americans, Hispanics and other persons of color become productive members of society. Dr. Holloway’s presentation is a great first step to understanding the deep-rooted barriers that keep persons of color oppressed and their vote suppressed.
The TEAm Meeting is open to all volunteers and interested parties. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Equity Alliance has great news to share. We have received 501c(3) tax-exempt status!
Most non-profit organizations understand the importance of achieving this status. For The Equity Alliance, this means we have been recognized by both the State of Tennessee and the federal government as an organization that is mission-focused rather than profit-focused. Our mission to proactively advocate for African Americans and other communities of color to have a fair and just opportunity at realizing the American dream is our primary concern.
That alone is the end goal. And we’ll use our voting power to do it.
For you, this means that the donations you contribute to The Equity Alliance will go towards achieving our mission rather than boosting profits for shareholders. Most importantly, your donations are tax-deductible. We count it a privilege to have supporters like you who believe in the work of The Equity Alliance and are just as committed to improving communities.
This summer, we plan to knock on as many doors as possible to register voters, talk with residents, and collect survey responses. This is all leading up to a report we aim to publish on minority voter turnout in Nashville. To accomplish, this takes resources and manpower.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just released a report estimating that 14 million Americans will be uninsured by the end of 2018 and 23 million uninsured by 2026. Medicaid, the program that insures millions of poor and disabled Americans, will be slashed by $834 billion dollars. And 1.27 million Tennesseans–including thousands of low-income, minority, disabled, young, and elderly residents–will be at risk.
Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (i.e. Trumpcare) to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and the new law could make health insurance financially out of reach for some poor and sick Tennesseans. The bill passed without knowing the costs to taxpayers, without committee hearings, and without testimony from experts and stakeholders. The bill also punishes those with pre-existing conditions such as people with mental illness, cancer, heart disease, C-sections, victims of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence, and, mammograms
This bill is unacceptable. This does NOT bring more #EquityinTN. People’s lives are at stake.
Even worse, 13 white male Republicans who are meeting behind closed doors to draft their own version of the bill. Meeting in secrecy, with no women, minorities or bipartisanship at the table, is also not okay. Trumpcare must be stopped.
You have an opportunity to shape the outcome of a monumental piece of legislation. We have to work together to take a stand NOW. Here’s what you can do today:
578,000 Tennesseans are expected to become uninsured under Trumpcare.
Tennessee’s children, seniors, and people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid will lose coverage under Trumpcare.
27 million Tennesseans have pre-existing conditions, such as asthma, obesity, allergies, ear infection, and even rape.
Millions of Tennesseans will see huge increases in their premiums, including both those on the Marketplace and on employer-sponsored insurance under Trumpcare.
Millions of privately insured Americans will once again face lifetime and annual caps under Trumpcare.
The bill provides hundreds of tax breaks to families making over $250K per year.
Many of the same lawmakers who voted to pass Trumpcare found ways to exempt themselves from some of the most unpopular components of the law, such as keeping coverage for pre-existing conditions and coverage of essential health benefits. Self-serving politics is not okay. The lack of concern for the people who need health care coverage the most is not okay and does not bring more #EquityinTN.
The Equity Alliance believes in removing barriers that hinder the success of African-American and other communities of color. We believe in equipping citizens to engage in the civic process. We believe in empowering you to take action on issues that affect your lives. Join us. Let’s show our elected officials that we won’t stand for the status quo. Take action today!
We are pleased to welcome Isaac Addae to the board of directors for The Equity Alliance!
Isaac is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the College of Business at Tennessee State University. He is currently a Management Ph.D. candidate in the School of Business and Management at Morgan State University in Baltimore. He completed a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and an M.S. in Systems Engineering at Tennessee State University.
“Isaac brings a wealth of community institutional knowledge and will be a great asset to the board,” Board President Charlane Oliver said.
With regard to community impact, Isaac is very active in efforts to influence economic development across Nashville’s urban population. He is the creator of the Conscious Conversation community discussion series, an effort that focuses on galvanizing local citizens around common issues. Isaac is a co-founder of The Hub for Urban Entrepreneurship, a Nashville-based social enterprise responsible for supporting minority business owners through initiatives such as Black Entrepreneurship Week. He is also leaving the formation of a community change fund that will drive collective philanthropy in Nashville’s urban communities. From a global perspective, Isaac has been involved in developing schools within rural villages in the West African nation of Ghana through Save the Villages, a nonprofit organization he founded.
As a self-described change agent and social engineer, Isaac is very focused on utilizing his full potential to advance communities of color around the world. He aims to achieve this goal by innovatively integrating his academic and community-based efforts.
Contact: Charlane Oliver, Board President, The Equity Alliance
REGIONS BANK PARTNERS WITH THE EQUITY ALLIANCE, CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS TO HOST FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT SERIES
First of four workshops on April 29 to target North Nashville area residents
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In celebration of National Financial Literacy Month in April, Regions Bank is teaming up with The Equity Alliance and five other African-American community organizations to host a Financial Empowerment Series focused on teaching financial principles that put Nashvillians on a path to financial independence. The first of four community workshops will take place Saturday, April 29 at the Nashville Public Library North Branch, 1001 Monroe Street, from 10 a.m. to noon. The event is free and open to the public.
The Financial Empowerment Series is hosted in partnership with Clerisy Circle, The Equity Alliance, The Hub for Urban Entrepreneurship, Knowledge Bank, Urban Enterprise Group and the Urban League of Middle Tennessee.
“Our goal is to make life better for our customers and communities, and empowering people through financial education is an important way we do that,” said Jim Schmitz, Middle Tennessee Area President of Regions Bank. “We are proud to team up with The Equity Alliance to host the Financial Empowerment Series.”
Taught by Regions Bank, the workshop titled “Money Matters” will discuss banking, building financial confidence, setting financial goals, identifying priorities, making the most of one’s income, and will include a hands-on simulation by Knowledge Bank.
“The Equity Alliance is thrilled to partner with Regions Bank and these respected community groups who work with predominantly African-American and low-income communities,” said The Equity Alliance’s Board President Charlane Oliver. “We know that North Nashville is one of the most economically distressed areas so we are excited to bring this workshop to the community in an effort to improve the upward economic mobility of its residents.”
The Financial Empowerment Series will be held once a quarter starting in North Nashville followed by events in August, November, and February 2018 in the four major quadrants of the city.
About The Equity Alliance
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. Established in January 2017, The Equity Alliance is a Nashville-based grassroots advocacy nonprofit 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. Learn more at www.theequityalliance.org or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About Regions Financial Corporation
Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $125 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, mortgage, and insurance products and services. Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,500 banking offices and 1,900 ATMs. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at www.regions.com.
About Clerisy Circle
Clerisy Circle is a curator of learners who unify, empower, and invest in the black community. The group thrives on creating a community of people with diverse backgrounds who gather socially in order to advance professionally, culturally and economically. By seamlessly connecting influential leaders through events, volunteering activities, and business partnerships, the Clerisy Circle™ seeks to become the most comprehensive community of influential black leaders in the world. For more information, visitwww.clerisycircle.com or follow @clerisycircle on Instagram and Facebook.
About The Hub for Urban Entrepreneurship
The Hub for Urban Entrepreneurship (HUE) is a Nashville-based social enterprise that seeks to inspire, develop and promote entrepreneurship and economic development in underserved and underrepresented communities. In November 2016, HUE launched the inaugural Black Entrepreneurship Week (BEW), a local annual celebration during Global Entrepreneurship Week. To connect with the HUE team, follow online at www.blackentrepreneurshipweek.com or on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @blackentrepweek.
About Knowledge Bank
Knowledge Bank is a social enterprise focused on improving the financial literacy of youth and millennials. Our mission is to create a generation of financially knowledgeable, responsible and empowered youth through education, exposure and the development of healthy behaviors. Sign up for our newsletter at www.knowledgebanknashville.org and like us on Facebook.
About the Urban Enterprise Group
The Urban Enterprise Group (UEG) is a Nashville-based private equity fund that seeks to economically empower urban communities through financial education and securities investment. Our mission is to foster and promote economic development in urban communities.
About the Urban League of Middle Tennessee
Chartered on April 15, 1968, the mission of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee is to enable African Americans, other minorities and disenfranchised groups to secure economic self-reliance, power, parity, and civil rights. Efforts are focused in the following areas: Economic Empowerment, Youth & Education, Health & Quality of Life, Civic Engagement, and Civil Rights and Racial Justice. Learn more at www.ulmt.org.
Money Matters: Tips for Creating a Realistic Budget
Celebrating National Financial Literacy Month with tips you can use
April is National Financial Literacy Month and The Equity Alliance is focused on educating and empowering communities of color in Nashville to become more civically engaged in the political process as a means of ensuring more equitable economic, social, and political outcomes. When it comes to important money matters, we want to give you some helpful weekly personal financial tips to put you on a path to financial independence. This week is about Creating a Realistic Budget. Here’s how:
Make a plan for your money.
A budget is simply a monthly plan that tells your money where to go. The formula should be this: Income minus Expenses equals Zero
(Income) – (Expenses) = $0.00
Assign every dollar to a category. Major categories include Housing/Rent, Food, Transportation, Entertainment, Emergency Fund, and Debt/Loans
Write down all of your bills and expenses for the month.
You have to see it, and your expenses have to match what you actually spend. How can you ever assess how well you’re doing financially if you have no idea how you’re actually doing. You’d be surprised where your money goes once you actually write down every expense, especially when it comes to entertainment and eating out. If you have children, factor in things such as birthday parties, summer clothes, doctor visits, and school field trips.
Pay yourself first.
Make a habit to build your $1,000 emergency fund for unexpected expenses. You can even have a set amount automatically deducted from your paycheck and into your savings account.
Execute the plan.
Use online and mobile resources like Mint.com, EveryDollar.com, Dave Ramsey’s Zero-Based Budgeting tools, or your bank’s online bill pay option to help you create a budget. Then, stick with it for at least 90 days to begin seeing your plan work.
Don’t give up.
According to financial guru Dave Ramsey, personal finance is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge. Of course, things come up. Impulse spending can be tempting. But be disciplined enough to keep at it.
THE EQUITY ALLIANCE LAUNCHES TO PROMOTE AFRICAN-AMERICAN CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN NASHVILLE
March 22 kickoff event to talk ‘Black Civic Engagement’ with Rep. Akbari, Christiane Buggs, Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, Sen. Lee Harris and more
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In the wake of a divisive political climate and rapidly growing local landscape, six African-American women have joined together to form The Equity Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group whose mission is to proactively advocate for African Americans and other communities of color to have a fair and just opportunity at realizing the American dream.
Launched in January 2017, The Equity Alliance will host its first event, “A Conscious Conversation on Black Political Engagement,” in partnership with Conscious Conversation Wednesday, March 22, 6 p.m. at SEIU Local 205, located at 521 Central Avenue, to explore the state of Black political engagement and how Nashville’s African-American community can take action on issues concerning them.
Confirmed panelists include: State Representative for the 91st District and Chair of the Tennessee Black Caucus Raumesh Akbari; District 5 Metro Nashville School Board Member Christiane Buggs; State Senator for the 29th District and Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris; Chief Diversity Officer for the Office of Mayor Megan Barry Michelle Hernandez-Lane; At-Large Metro Council Member Erica Gilmore; Executive Committeewoman for the Davidson County Democratic Party Matia Powell; and Christopher Smith, a political consultant and former Bernie Sanders 2016 deputy national field director. The panel and roundtable discussion will be moderated by Isaac Addae, Conscious Conversation co-founder and assistant professor of business at Tennessee State University.
Attendees will have a chance to converse one-on-one with prominent Black political leaders in a roundtable-style forum.
“We wanted to bring our community together to have an honest dialogue around the need for more diverse political leadership in Nashville, what action steps individuals can take to address issues with their elected officials and how The Equity Alliance can be the vehicle for improving equitable outcomes on the state and local level for marginalized groups,” said Board President Charlane Oliver.
Other founding board members include Christiane Buggs, Mariah Cole (Executive Director), Tequila Johnson (Vice President), Kyonzte Toombs (Secretary and General Counsel) and Aerin Washington (Treasurer).
While persistent economic and racial disparities exist among African Americans on indicators such as unemployment, home ownership, health, median income, and entrepreneurship, The Equity Alliance’s 2017 legislative priorities will focus on the two most pressing issues threatening economic prosperity for minorities: public education and criminal justice reform.
The Equity Alliance’s four core functions aim to monitor state legislation and local ordinances for discriminatory policies that create barriers to economic self-sufficiency; educate communities of color on relevant economic, social, and political issues and the implications of impending legislation; build relationships and create alliances in the Nashville community with similar mission-driven organizations; and empower individuals to take action, including turning out to vote in large numbers on Election Day.
“Our goal is to inform those in our community on how their government works and why voting in every election matters,” said Oliver.
Tickets to the Conscious Conversation event are free and open to the public. For more information and to register, visit www.theequityalliance.org.
About Conscious Conversation
Conscious Conversation is a group focused on galvanizing the general public around issues of community and economic development in metropolitan communities. Efforts are concentrated in three main areas: Connect to bring the community together, facilitate networking, and generate synergy amongst like-minded individuals; converse to engage in healthy dialogue on issues that plague downtrodden communities; and create to formulate strategies leading to collective action on identified issues. Learn more at www.consciousconversation.co.
About The Equity Alliance
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. Established in January 2017, The Equity Alliance is a Nashville-based grassroots advocacy nonprofit 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. Learn more at www.theequityalliance.org or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Contact: Charlane Oliver, Board President
In the age of social media, it’s easy to post our dissatisfaction for politics as usual. But how can African Americans ensure their voices are heard by elected and appointed officials? How do we ensure the African-American community does not get left behind by a changing Nashville landscape? How can the Democratic Party be more inclusive to the issues plaguing the Black community? Lastly, why is civic engagement and voter turnout low among African Americans?
Join us on Wednesday, March 22 for a roundtable discussion with “young, Black and dope” political leaders to learn how you can become a more informed and engaged citizen. Don’t get mad, get involved! Visit http://www.consciousconversation.co for additional details.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 6 p.m. – Networking 6:30 p.m. – Roundtable Discussion SEIU Local 205 | 521 Central Ave | Nashville,TN 37211
Coalition Gearing Up for Voting Rights Restoration Push in Tennessee
NASHVILLE — A diverse coalition that’s urging lawmakers to end voting discrimination against people with felony convictions will hear from a national voting rights advocate on the issue Nov. 22 at 5:30 p.m. at The Lab at 624-A Jefferson Street.
Desmond Meade — a formerly homeless returning citizen who overcame many obstacles to eventually become the President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), Chair of Floridians for a Fair Democracy and a graduate of Florida International University College of Law — will share lessons from his successful advocacy in Florida. Meade led the charge to pass Amendment 4 in Florida last year, which laid the foundation to restore voting rights for 1.4 million Floridians.
The nonpartisan coalition meeting with Meade includes a wide variety of power players, such as The Equity Alliance, ACLU of Tennessee, and Americans for Prosperity. The coalition seeks to reform Tennessee’s laws to enhance successful reentry, reduce recidivism and increase public safety.
“There’s a lot of work being done to end voting discrimination against people with felony convictions who have served their time,” said Tequila Johnson, co-founder of The Equity Alliance. “We’re closer than ever before to restoring voting rights to men and women who’ve turned their lives around and been contributing members of their community.”
The Equity Alliance event, casually titled “Cocktails and Conversations,” will also feature a panel of advocates, legislators and activists. The panel will include State Rep. Harold Love, Jr.; Shanna Singh Hughey, executive director of Think Tennessee; Larry Turnley, formerly incarcerated person and violence interruptor with Gideon’s Army; and moderated by Charlane Oliver, co-founder and executive director of The Equity Alliance. The event will be hosted by Fox 17 journalist Harriet Wallace.
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 or launch a new program.
Johnson said the funding will be used to amplify and expand The Equity Alliance’s Black Citizenship in Action Tennessee project. Black Citizenship in Action Tennessee will include local community outreach and mobilization opportunities along with civic and voter engagement trainings that build power in Black communities by deepening a shared understanding of people’s rights as citizens.
“Black people have a right to be in this country and a right to fair representation. Every attack on voting rights and blatant voter suppression limits our self determination and withholds power from underserved Black communities,” Johnson said. “These attacks undermine our very citizenship and it is a major problem that I am committed to solving.”
Johnson is one of 18 Roddenberry Fellows chosen for 2020 after a six-month review of applications, which numbered in the thousands. To qualify, fellows must be working on a project, organization or initiative with direct impact on immigrant & refugee rights, civil rights, LGBTQIA+ and women’s rights, or environmental protection.
In addition to funding, fellows receive one-on-one professional coaching and development opportunities; virtual collaboration sessions to provide ongoing advisement, support and connections; and access to network of peers and allies who share resources, expertise and support.
The Roddenberry Foundation funds initiatives that offer opportunities for original thinkers and innovators from all walks of life to pursue significant, lasting change. Named after Gene Roddenberry, creator of the Star Trek series, the foundation was founded in 2010 by Gene’s son Rod to build on his father’s legacy and philosophy of inclusion, diversity and respect for life to drive social change.
Co-founder and Executive Director Charlane Oliver talked with Lulu Garcia-Navarro, host of NPR Weekend Edition, about how Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election targeted African American voters
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Equity Alliance today announced it is expanding its board of directors with the appointment of four new members. Joining The Equity Alliance board are:
André Anderson, Jr., personal chief of staff to Bishop Joseph W. Walker, III, of the historic Mt. Zion Baptist Church;
Kelby House Garner, Ed.D., Executive Principal for Metro Nashville Public Schools Virtual School;
Shawn Joseph, Ed.D., former MNPS superintendent and associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Fordham University; and
Sylvia Rapoport, founding president of the Centennial Park Conservancy.
Charlane Oliver, co-founder of the Nashville-based nonprofit focused on voting rights advocacy and increasing civic engagement in communities of color, said these board additions mark an important moment for The Equity Alliance, which is approaching its third year of operation.
“These new members are exceptional leaders in Nashville who support the empowerment of black citizens and bring a special talent, dynamic energy and valuable perspective to our voter engagement work,” Oliver said. “As we enter a new season of growth and statewide expansion, The Equity Alliance is fortunate to have them on our team to develop robust programming for the 2020 Census and elections, strengthen our issue advocacy platform, and expand the electorate to be more inclusive for black and brown Tennesseans.”
About The Equity Alliance’s new board members:
Andre’ Anderson serves as personal chief of staff to Bishop Joseph W. Walker, III, at the historic Mt. Zion Baptist Church, where he manages the day-to-day operations of the executive office of the 30,000-member congregation. In September 2019, he launched The Siraaj Agency, a boutique consulting firm specializing in event planning, public relations and consumer engagement. He has provided strategic services for clients and national influencers, including former presidents, cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, local and national elected officials, civil rights activists, faith-based and nonprofit leaders across the country.
Dr. Kelby House Garner, a native of Brownsville, Tenn. and resident of Nashville since 1998, is a true servant leader with a passion for serving the community. Dr. House Garner currently serves as the Executive Principal for Metro Nashville Public Schools Virtual School. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Tennessee State University and Trevecca Nazarene University. House Garner studied educational leadership, earning both an Educational Specialist and Doctor of Education degree. She is a member of Olive Branch Church and the Nashville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Dr. Shawn Joseph currently serves as a visiting associate professor at Fordham University’s graduate school of education. His passion for equity and social justice has led him to serve in a number of positions in the world of education. He has been an English teacher, school administrator, central office administrator and superintendent in Maryland, Delaware and Tennessee. His work as the superintendent of Metro Nashville Public Schools resulted in schools that are more equitable and accelerated growth for all student groups in both reading and mathematics.
An award-winning educator, published author and researcher, Dr. Joseph’s focus centers on leading for equity, governance and the superintendency. He earned a doctoral degree in educational administration and policy studies from The George Washington University and a master’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University. His bachelor’s degree is from Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, America’s oldest Historically Black College.
Sylvia Rapoport, born and raised in Nashville, is the Founding President of Centennial Park Conservancy, where she has increased the organization’s operating budget more than ten-fold and was responsible for launching two of the Nashville community’s free programs for families: Musicians Corner and Kidsville at the Parthenon. Additionally, she led a $30 million capital campaign to revitalize Centennial Park. Rapoport also serves in Congressman Jim Cooper’s office as a Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform Fellow. She has served in volunteer leadership roles for more than 20 organizations including the Anti-Defamation League, Boston Children’s Museum, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Jewish Foundation of Middle Tennessee and the National Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Foundation. She studied art and history at the University of London with graduate work at Brandeis University.
These four exceptional leaders will join the organization’s current board members, who include: Isaac Addae, Honorable Christiane Buggs, Tequila Johnson, Dustin Jones, Honorable Kyontzé Toombs, and Mariah Williams.
NASHVILLE — The Equity Alliance applauded a federal judge’s decision to block a Tennessee law restricting the rights of voter registration groups from taking effect.
In her opinion granting an injunction, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger wrote: “There is simply no basis in the record for concluding that the Act will provide much benefit to Tennesseans, and even less reason to think that any benefit will come close to outweighing the harms to Tennesseans (and non-Tennesseans) who merely wish to exercise their core constitutional rights of participating in the political process by encouraging voter registration.”
The Equity Alliance issued a statement after her ruling:
We are overjoyed by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger’s decision to block Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s law that unfairly imposes criminal and civil penalties on groups who engage in constitutionally protected voter registration. Judge Trauger saw this baseless and unconstitutional law for what it truly is: voter suppression in its ugliest form.
This is a giant win for voting rights advocates who fight to ensure that every citizen has a voice.
Make no mistake about it, this victory is a result of the unstoppable work of The Equity Alliance, a Black-led organization, and the Tennessee Black Voter Project, which submitted about 91,000 voter registration forms for Black and brown Tennesseans in 2018. We are relentless and unapologetic in our pursuit of a fair and just America for all Black citizens.
Having persevered through 400 years of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and oppressive segregation, black people’s ability to vote and exercise free agency in this country is directly tied to our full personhood, dignity and humanity.
Today’s victory underscores the need for The Equity Alliance to fight back against attacks on our voting rights. We hope Secretary of State Tre Hargett reads every word of this opinion and heeds the court’s advice to make voter registration simpler in Tennessee and to work with voter registration groups who are protected by the U.S. Constitution.
We applaud Judge Trauger’s ruling and look forward to getting back to the necessary work of registering Black voters and advocating for their voting rights.
NASHVILLE – The Equity Alliance, a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law targeting voter registration drives with penalties and fines, issued a statement today following U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger’s ruling against the state of Tennessee. In a 63-page opinion, Judge Trauger denied the state’s motion to dismiss the case — allowing the case to proceed.
Charlane Oliver, president and co-founder of The Equity Alliance:
Judge Aleta Trauger’s ruling in favor of proceeding with The Equity Alliance’s lawsuit against Secretary Tre Hargett’s voter supression law affirms the argument we’ve been making all along. If additional training is needed, the state should have produced new instructions for groups that believe in the power of voter registration. The state should be investing its resources in improving our low voter participation rates instead of suppressing voters. Tennesseans do not want or need a burdensome law that slaps well-meaning groups like The Equity Alliance with irrational $10,000 fines or puts our organizers in jail for making mistakes on forms. While today’s ruling against the state is a victory, we know there is a long path ahead for this lawsuit to prevail and for voter registration groups to receive justice.
Nashville will soon choose candidates to lead our city for the next four years. And as all the candidates will tell you: our city’s future is at stake and YOU have the power to decide which candidate’s vision is best for your family and our community.
Early voting starts July 12 at the Howard Office Building downtown and goes until July 27. Election Day is Aug. 1.
To help with your voting decision, The Equity Alliance is proud to provide you our 2019 Nashville Voter Guide — a free, nonpartisan, public resource for Nashville voters to make an informed choice on Election Day.
In this guide, you’ll find unbiased candidate profiles, websites where you can find more candidate information, a description of what each elected office does, polling locations and hours, voter ID requirements, a description of Davidson County’s new voting machines, a reminder to fill out your Census form next year and much more.
Thank you to our community partners, DENOR Brands and Public Relations and 529 Graphics, our volunteers and distribution partners for making the 2019 Nashville Voter Guidea quality product and resource for our community.