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2020 Nashville Learning Visit

Amplify Fund, Funders for a Just Economy, The Equity Alliance, and Stand Up Nashville logos.

Welcome! NFG’s Amplify Fund and Funders for a Just Economy were excited to host a virtual learning visit in Nashville, Tennessee with our partners Stand Up Nashville and The Equity Alliance. On this site, you can learn about the learning visit events and access videos, readings, and resources. Catch highlights and quotes shared by participants in our Twitter moment recap

Virtual Visit Dates:
September 21-23, 2020

Background

Located in middle Tennessee, Nashville has now become one of the fastest growing cities in the last decade since the Great Recession. Through popularizing it’s tourist industry and implementing new regressive taxes to subsidize bringing big companies to the city, the subsequent population increase has led to rising housing prices and rent, and the displacement of many community members and local businesses. While healthcare, higher education, and government continue to be the biggest employment sectors in Nashville, companies like Nissan, Tyson Foods, and Amazon continue to worsen the trend to drive down wages, impact development, and thwart movements fighting for unionization and better working conditions.

Historically, social movements in Nashville catalyzed and strengthened the civil rights movement in the US, and this legacy has inextricably linked the city’s political landscape and its movement leadership today. Community organizations, many of whom rely on their base of volunteer activists, organizers, and people who have been brought into the political process, are the unseen heroes creating a powerful movement for change. Coalition building and collaborative approaches to organizing have built the power of communities in Nashville to pass progressive policy changes. However, more recently, as Tennessee vies for new companies to come to Nashville, these changes have been preempted by the state, thereby squashing policy wins. These challenges have also led to divisiveness in coalition spaces where some focus on “what’s winnable” while others focus on the broader community vision. 

As it has been across the country, 2020 has been a challenging year. It has been particularly challenging in Nashville and middle Tennessee, as the area was hit with one of the deadliest storms it has seen in decades due to tornadoes in early March just before the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, there have been over 28,000 confirmed cases and over 430 deaths due to COVID-19. And, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, Nashville protestors and city council members are demanding the resignation of its police Chief Steve Anderson, whose policing approach upholds structural racism.

Considering the state’s political landscape and this year’s climate, public health, housing, and economic crises, Nashville’s organizers are undoubtedly experts of inside and outside organizing and political strategy. The long history of organizing and power building in Nashville has laid the foundation for recent movements supporting mutual aid and just recovery from disasters, community development, and economic justice.

NFG’s Amplify Fund and Funders for a Just Economy held a virtual learning visit in Nashville highlighting the history of race, organizing and labor and learning how community members are building power to make decisions about the places where they live and working conditions. Each of three sessions shared the incredible organizing and power building work of movement leaders centering Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities of color; migrants; and LGBTQ communities. We are proud to have partnered with Stand-Up Nashville and The Equity Alliance on September 21st- 23rd for this virtual visit. 

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Odessa Kelly — Executive Director, Stand Up Nashville

Odessa KellyA native of Nashville, Odessa Kelly works diligently to bring positive and equitable change to the Nashville community by serving as Executive Director of Stand Up Nashville, a coalition of community-based organizations and labor unions that represent the working people of Nashville who have seen our city transformed by development, but have not shared in the benefits of that growth. She also serves as Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH), Economic Equity & Jobs task force chair. Her work with NOAH has included building one of the largest and most powerful social justice movements in Nashville. She has advocated for the working class and underserved communities in Nashville, issues ranging from affordable housing to establishing the first ever Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) in the state of Tennessee. She believes that Nashville has the potential to achieve a progressive paradigm shift — a cultural shift in how a traditional southern city becomes a leader in the progressive movement across the country.

 

Charlane Oliver — Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, The Equity Alliance

Charlane OliverHailed as a “Now Generation Activist” by The Tennessean and a 2019 Woman of Influence by the Nashville Business Journal, Charlane Oliver is an award-winning community advocate, respected movement builder, public relations strategist and rising star among Music City’s political scene. She is the co-founder and executive director of The Equity Alliance, a nonprofit that works to build political power among black voters and end voter suppression in a state with one of the lowest voter participation rates in the nation.

As a trusted voice on voting rights issues, her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and throughout Tennessee. She has graced the coveted stage at the inaugural TEDxNashvilleWomen and has been a featured guest on various local television broadcasts and national podcasts.

Her organization led a statewide coalition that registered 91,000 Black and brown Tennesseans to vote for the 2018 midterms, increased Black voter turnout by 413 percent, and was responsible for endorsing and electing the most diverse and progressive Metro Council in the city’s history. Previously, Charlane served as the community liaison and on the communications team for U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper, where she led one of the most successful voter registration initiatives in Congress called Project Register.

With over 15 years of professional experience in nonprofit management, civil service and communications, Charlane has garnered numerous accolades and awards. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Charlane has a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

 

Tequila Johnson — Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, The Equity Alliance

Tequila JohnsonTequila Johnson is an award-winning cause driven community organizer and strategist whose work focuses on creating equity and increasing civic engagement among Black Americans and other communities of color. She has been recognized for educating communities of color about the political process, relevant economic, social, and political issues, the impacts of impending legislation, and providing people with the tools to exercise self-agency. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, on CNN, MSNBC and around the country. Johnson is the co-founder and Co Executive director of The Equity Alliance, a Tennessee-based nonprofit that equips black and brown citizens with tools and strategies to strengthen their communities and make government work better. In 2018, Johnson served as the statewide manager for the Tennessee Black Voter Project, a statewide coalition of nearly two dozen local nonprofits working together toward the goal of registering 50,000 Black Tennesseans to vote. The group, under Johnson’s leadership, submitted 91,000 voter registration forms. In addition to her involvement in local politics and community organizing, Johnson is also the founder and CEO of The Equity Consulting Group, LLC, a firm specializing in issue advocacy, government relations, community relations and media strategy.

She served as campaign manager and lead strategist for newcomer Christiane Buggs’s successful Metro Nashville School Board election and has provided strategic oversight, analysis and field operations for a variety of political organizations. Her work in and for the community has earned widespread praise and recognition. Her awards include: 2020 Roddenberry Civil Rights Fellow, 2019 Human Rights Coalition Rising Advocate Award, The Nashville Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award 2019; Nashville Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Superstar 2019; the NAACP Ella Baker Power Award 2019; the Women’s Political Collaborative of Tennessee’s Movers and Shakers Award 2018; Nashville Business’ 100 Leading African Americans 2018; Nashville Black 40 Under 40 2018; and Nashville Voice’s 2018 Nashvillian of the Year. Johnson was a featured presenter at the 2018 Healthy and Free Tennessee Reproductive Rights Summit, in 2019 at the national Unrig Summit, and in 2019 at the Muslim Women’s Conference in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Johnson is a graduate of Tennessee State University, where she received her master’s degree in counseling psychology and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology. Additionally she is a certified project manager and holds a graduate certificate in grant writing and nonprofit, public and organizational management. She currently serves on the Metro Nashville Industrial Development Board (2020), the sustainable business coalition, and is a Board Member for Creative Girls Rock. When she’s not working, she enjoys singing in her church choir, doing crossfit, and spending time with her daughter.

 


 

Stand Up Nashville

 

Stand Up Nashville is a coalition of community organizations and labor unions that represent the working people of Nashville who have seen our city transformed by development, but have not shared in the benefits of that growth. We believe that development and growth are an opportunity to invest and strengthen our local communities.

 

 

The Equity Alliance

 

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

 
Catch highlights and quotes shared by participants during these sessions in our Twitter moment recap!
 
Mon 9/21 TUES 9/22 WED 9/23

Session 1
(2-3:30pm CT)
 
Kick-off Happy Hour
(4pm CT)

Session 2
(12-1:30pm CT) 
 
 

Amplify Steering Committee Meeting (by invitation only)
(11-2 pm CT)

Session 3 
(3-4:30pm CT)

 

Session 1: From Plantation City to NashVegas: How Nashville’s History Relates to Current Conditions

Monday, September 21  —  12:00 - 1:30pm PT / 1:00 - 2:30pm MT / 2:00 - 3:30pm CT / 3:00 - 4:30pm ET

To kick-off the learning visit, panelists will share how Nashville’s history stemming from a plantation economy connects to the current political landscape, geography, community development and labor issues in the city. Nashville is Klan country, and this reality is a very important factor in understanding how Black-led organizing has shaped the city. Through sharing the history, panelists will also share the successes of recent campaigns, including winning a stadium community benefits agreement and the Do Better Bill, as well as building a community relief and anti-gentrification organizing effort in the historically Black neighborhood of North Nashville following the March 2020 tornado.

 

Kick-off Happy Hour

Monday, September 21  —  2:00pm PT / 3:00pm MT / 4:00pm CT / 5:00pm ET

              

 

Session 2: Refusing to Be Moved & Shifting Power (Inside & Out): Building Black Futures in Nashville

Tuesday, September 22  —  10:00 - 11:30am PT / 11:00 - 12:30pm MT / 12:00 - 1:30pm CT / 1:00 - 2:30pm ET

Local organizations will join in a discussion about how Black-led organizing and power building in Nashville is advancing campaigns that illustrate the importance of moving resources to the Black community first and how inside/outside strategies support building power, influence and capacity toward just and equitable development, civic power and economic justice.

 

Session 3: Funding in Nashville: Don’t Always Give Money to the Loudest Person in the Room

Wednesday, September 23  —  1:00 - 2:30pm PT / 2:00 - 3:30pm MT / 3:00 - 4:30pm CT / 4:00 - 5:30pm ET

Philanthropic resources in Nashville prioritizes white-led and more resourced groups, leading to an outsized influence of these organizations in the city, and sometimes overshadowing the incredible organizing and power Black communities have built. In this session, panelists will discuss how philanthropy has shaped organizing in the city in both harmful and impactful ways, and will offer recommendations and a path forward for funders interested in supporting movement building and organizing in Nashville.

 

  
Access, Accomodations, and Disability Statement of Intent

In organizing the Nashville Learning Visit, we aim to create a space where Disabled/chronically ill and Deaf folks shouldn’t need to pass as being able-bodied, healthy or from hearing culture, in order to be present or to participate fully. We arrived at this goal knowing that Disability surrounds us all, is in many ways what is most familiar to us; bodies and minds with differences, chronic illness and Deafness. Ableism lives and breathes at the hub of racism, poverty, displacement, violence, incarceration, state control and more; we chose to begin the work of re-centering Disability into our analysis and anti -ableism into our practice.

We are determined in our attempt to create a learning visit informed by the truth that we all lose when Disabled/ill voices and politics are not present. We are clear that the embedding of Disability politics and anti-ableism as issues of racial, economic, Trans and gender justice requires time, exposure, political will and persistence - this is our beginning.

We have a long way to go, yet we continue to seek becoming a place where passing is not required for credibility, and participation or value is not dependent upon assimilation.

We are excited to extend this invitation to join us as NFG leans into Disability and build intentionally towards anti-ableism as a core value and implemented principle of action.

Amplify Fund, Funders for a Just Economy, The Equity Alliance, and Stand Up Nashville logos.

Welcome! NFG’s Amplify Fund and Funders for a Just Economy were excited to host a virtual learning visit in Nashville, Tennessee with our partners Stand Up Nashville and The Equity Alliance. On this site, you can learn about the learning visit events and access videos, readings, and resources. Catch highlights and quotes shared by participants in our Twitter moment recap

Virtual Visit Dates:
September 21-23, 2020

Background

Located in middle Tennessee, Nashville has now become one of the fastest growing cities in the last decade since the Great Recession. Through popularizing it’s tourist industry and implementing new regressive taxes to subsidize bringing big companies to the city, the subsequent population increase has led to rising housing prices and rent, and the displacement of many community members and local businesses. While healthcare, higher education, and government continue to be the biggest employment sectors in Nashville, companies like Nissan, Tyson Foods, and Amazon continue to worsen the trend to drive down wages, impact development, and thwart movements fighting for unionization and better working conditions.

Historically, social movements in Nashville catalyzed and strengthened the civil rights movement in the US, and this legacy has inextricably linked the city’s political landscape and its movement leadership today. Community organizations, many of whom rely on their base of volunteer activists, organizers, and people who have been brought into the political process, are the unseen heroes creating a powerful movement for change. Coalition building and collaborative approaches to organizing have built the power of communities in Nashville to pass progressive policy changes. However, more recently, as Tennessee vies for new companies to come to Nashville, these changes have been preempted by the state, thereby squashing policy wins. These challenges have also led to divisiveness in coalition spaces where some focus on “what’s winnable” while others focus on the broader community vision. 

As it has been across the country, 2020 has been a challenging year. It has been particularly challenging in Nashville and middle Tennessee, as the area was hit with one of the deadliest storms it has seen in decades due to tornadoes in early March just before the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, there have been over 28,000 confirmed cases and over 430 deaths due to COVID-19. And, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, Nashville protestors and city council members are demanding the resignation of its police Chief Steve Anderson, whose policing approach upholds structural racism.

Considering the state’s political landscape and this year’s climate, public health, housing, and economic crises, Nashville’s organizers are undoubtedly experts of inside and outside organizing and political strategy. The long history of organizing and power building in Nashville has laid the foundation for recent movements supporting mutual aid and just recovery from disasters, community development, and economic justice.

NFG’s Amplify Fund and Funders for a Just Economy held a virtual learning visit in Nashville highlighting the history of race, organizing and labor and learning how community members are building power to make decisions about the places where they live and working conditions. Each of three sessions shared the incredible organizing and power building work of movement leaders centering Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities of color; migrants; and LGBTQ communities. We are proud to have partnered with Stand-Up Nashville and The Equity Alliance on September 21st- 23rd for this virtual visit. 

Find More By:

Event type: 
Program: 
Funders for a Just Economy
Amplify Fund