Nashville chose Megan Barry as mayor of Nashville on September 10. She is to be commended for being Nashville’s first female mayor, and she has the support of a diverse group of organizations and supporters.
But let’s not be negligent of the fact that it was the support of the African American community that catapulted her over the top and they expect her support and diligence in incorporating their involvement in decisions about Nashville’s continued success as the ‘It City.’
This means that she owes the African American community. Now that she is mayor and the photo shoots with many movers in the African American community are over, will she still be committed to their cause?
We know that often we have contenders for public office making appearances in the Black community (especially our churches). They have pictures taken with what they consider viable as community leaders to solicit Black support. However, all too often after the honeymoon period, if they win, they somewhat distance themselves from the concerns of the Black community. If anyone gets anything out of the deal, it is usually the Black person vigilant in introducing the candidate to the African American community. We all know that politics is a strategic and calculating endeavor, often involved in duping people to get their vote.
Saying this, the African American community will be diligent in holding our mayor accountable in staying true to involving all Nashvillians, especially the African American community in decisions affecting us. We expect to be at the negotiating table and to be heard. Anything less is not acceptable. As it stands now, we have developers and investors making decisions based on personal greed without conferring with those in the neighborhoods they are exploiting. While much money is being made by the growth and development (gentrification) of Nashville, it is no secret that people of color are not benefiting financially. Black people in Nashville as a whole have been marginalized and left out of deciding their own fate.
Megan may know that for many African Americans in Nashville she was not their original choice. Many Blacks supported Bill Freeman who has an established record in supporting black institutions and investing in improving the African American community in Nashville (even before running for mayor). We knew he was committed in continuing to empower the African American community, and if he’d won it would have been a well received win for the Black community as well as all Nashville. Contrary to what many may feel or believe, when the Black community fares well, all Nashville triumphs.
So Mayor Barry, congratulations. But be mindful you will be held to the grind by the African American community. You are only being asked to naturally do what is right in bringing Nashville’s African Americans to the table and respecting their concerns.