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 RELEASES THE NASHVILLE VOTER GUIDE Free, nonpartisan, public resource for the August 2nd election is available at www.nashvillevoterguide.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 29, 2018
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 29, 2018) – Tennessee ranks 50th in voter turnout and 40th in voter registration. In Davidson County, communities of color live in precincts with the lowest voter turnout. Determined to flip these statistics, The Equity Alliance was founded in 2017 to increase minority voter participation and civic engagement. Today, after registering more than 250 new voters for the May 1 election, the nonprofit released the second installment of the Nashville Voter Guide for the entire Davidson County community.
The Nashville Voter Guide is a comprehensive, free, and nonpartisan public resource for Nashville voters to make an informed decision in the voting booth on Election Day. The guide includes unbiased candidate profiles, roles of each elected office, polling locations and hours, voter ID requirements, transit referendum information and much more.
“We are so excited about bringing this vital community resource and educational tool to Davidson County voters,” said Charlane Oliver, board president and founder of The Equity Alliance. “We are delighted to work with our community partners to ensure this public resource gets into the hands of those who need it most. We’ve spent a lot of time registering people to vote, and now we want to make sure those voters are equipped with knowledge to make an informed decision in the voting booth.”
As part of their voter education and engagement focus, The Equity Alliance released its inaugural voter guide for the May 1st election with more than 1,775 downloads and 2,000 hard copies distributed. The501(c)3 nonprofit has plans to produce a voter guide for the November 6 election.
“One of the biggest hurdles to voter turnout is a lack of awareness of upcoming elections and access to available information on the candidates,” said Oliver. “We have talked with many constituents who say they don’t know who to vote for. Right now, the stakes are too high in our city for us to simply rely on a D or an R behind someone’s name and check a box. With this guide, we’re putting the power back into the people’s hands.”
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.
‘The Great White Hoax’ Film Screening and Panel Discussion
The Equity Alliance invites you to a free screening of the short film, The Great White Hoax, on Thursday, November 30, at 5:30 p.m. at Lee Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, located at 1200 Dr. D.B. Todd Jr. Blvd. in Nashville. Immediately following the screening, we will host a panel discussion featuring experts in politics, voter turnout, and community relations.
The panel will include: John Faison, Sr., Pastor of Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church; Kristal Knight, Executive Director of Emerge Tennessee; Dr. Pippa Holloway, a local organizer and MTSU Professor of History; and Vonda McDaniel, President of the Central Labor Council of Nashville/Middle Tennessee and Vice President to the National Executive Council of the AFL-CIO.
The panel discussion will dissect the film in a nonpartisan way and provide insight and concrete steps on what community members can do to ensure more people are registered to vote, more people actually do vote, and more people are engaged in the political process.
Food will be provided by The Post East, Olive Garden, and Coco’s Italian Market.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The film starts at 6:00 p.m. Panel discussion begins at 7:40 p.m. Immediately following the panel, we will have a voter registration drive to register to vote onsite! The event is free and open to the public.
About The Film
The explosive, thought-provoking film features acclaimed anti-racist educator and author and Nashville resident Tim Wise. It explores how American political leaders of both parties have been tapping into white anxiety, stoking white grievance, and scapegoating people of color for decades to divide and conquer working-class voters and shore up political support.
The film’s primary focus is Donald Trump’s race-baiting 2016 campaign for the presidency. But it also widens its scope to show how Trump’s charged rhetoric about African-Americans, Latinos, and Muslims fits within a longstanding historical pattern, offering a stunning survey of how racism and racial scapegoating have shaped American politics for centuries.
John R. Faison, Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Watson Grove Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, affectionately known as “The Grove,” where they endeavor to be “A GROWING church for GROWING people whom Christ will use in GROWING His Kingdom.” A native of Boykins, Virginia, Pastor Faison earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia and a Master of Arts in Practical Theology from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree at Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio. Under Pastor Faison’s leadership, God is using The Grove to impact the city of Nashville and beyond with tremendous effectiveness. Since his arrival in March 2012, the congregation has grown from 300 to over 1900 members. Additionally, several innovative ministry initiatives have launched and powerfully impacted the community, making Pastor Faison a “go-to” resource for a city seeking to respond to its own unprecedented growth. He is a passionate advocate for community transformation and development, as seen in his work as an HIV/AIDS National Ambassador with the NAACP (theblackchurchandhiv.org), mentor in public school districts, advisor to several community organizations, and member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.
Kristal Knight joined Emerge Tennessee as the Executive Director in late February 2017. She brings a host of presidential and local campaign experience to the job. She began her political career as a Field Organizer for then-Mayor Adrian Fenty’s Washington, D.C. reelection campaign. From there. she served as a Regional Field Director for the reelection of President Barack Obama in 2012 in Philadelphia, PA and returned to D.C. to serve on his Presidential Inaugural Committee in 2013. Most recently, she worked on the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016, helping with export operations to Virginia and Pennsylvania. She is passionate about expanding the opportunities for women and people of color in politics and has served on many local and community boards in Washington, D.C. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Kristal holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Howard University and a Masters in International Public Policy from University College London in the UK.
Dr. Pippa 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. She is a Soros Justice Fellow and Middle Tennessee State University Professor of History. View her full Curriculum Vitae here.
Vonda McDaniel is president of the the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee and has recently been named vice president to the National Executive Council of the AFL-CIO. Vonda was elected to the leadership position by delegates at the National Convention of the AFL-CIO in St. Louis. Vonda, a United Steelworker member at the Bridgestone/Firestone Plant in La Vergne, has worked as president of the Central Labor Council since 2013. The council operates as a federation of multiple local unions representing more than 19,000 workers. In Metro, Vonda is serving her second term as a member on the Nashville Convention Center Authority after getting reappointed by Mayor Megan Barry in 2015.
CLOUD HILL DEVELOPERS SEEK COMMUNITY INPUT ON FORT NEGLEY, GREER STADIUM REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT
Bert Mathews to speak at The Equity Alliance’s Aug. 29 meeting
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Cloud Hill Partnership developers are seeking the community’s input on their plans to redevelop the old Greer Stadium property that sits adjacent to Fort Negley in south Nashville. Bert Mathews, one of three individuals leading the Cloud Hill development team, will address concerns and clear up misinformation during a community meeting Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church Capitol Hill, 625 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. The meeting is hosted by The Equity Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy organization that encourages people of color to be civically engaged voters.
Since Cloud Hill Partnership was awarded the bid in January to redevelop Greer Stadium, the group has been met with backlash from community groups who want to preserve the property as open green space and honor the unique history of Fort Negley. The Civil War-era fort is believed to be the gravesite of hundreds of former slaves and free blacks who fought and died while building the fort.
The Equity Alliance has invited a representative from the Friends of Fort Negley to attend the meeting to offer a balanced, historical perspective on the issue.
Charlane Oliver, board president for The Equity Alliance, will facilitate the discussion.
“We appreciate that the Cloud Hill team reached out to The Equity Alliance to lead a discussion on how to best honor the historical significance of Fort Negley’s past while shaping Nashville’s future growth,” said Oliver. “As a champion for creating informed voters, we want to ensure all interested parties are invited to the discussion.”
Community members are encouraged to bring questions. The meeting is free and open to the public. For more information, email email@example.com.
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 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that encourages people of color to become active participants in government through Advocacy, Civic Engagement and Civic Leadership and empowers them to take action on issues affecting their daily lives in an effort to bring about equitable, systemic change in their communities. Learn more at www.theequityalliance.org or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram