Members of the Minority Caucus of the Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County Council met with local citizens and leaders last Thursday. The annual Reception event is held during African American History Month to network and to reflect on some of the concerns they are working on in a friendly setting. The event was again held in the Janet Ayers Academic Center Conference Area on the Campus of Belmont University.
Dr. Jason Rogers, Belmont’s Vice-President for Administration and University Counsel welcomed the assembly on behalf of the college’s president, Dr. Robert Fisher, who was otherwise engaged on the campus during it’s Homecoming weekend. Rogers noted the tireless work by Belmont’s Director of the Office of Community Relations, Mrs. Joyce Espy Searcy, principal host organizer for the event.
“Councilman Jerry Maynard reached out in 2012 to host the Metro Minority Caucus on our campus,” Mrs. Searcy told the PRIDE. “Belmont has been honored to partner with the Caucus for this significant community event because it coincides with the University’s mission to ‘empower men and women of diverse backgrounds to engage and transform the world’. The Caucus’s annual reception is a convenient way for the community to develop relationships with caucus members, become informed about issues, and choose an avenue though which they can participate as citizens in improving life for all Nashvillians.”
Chaplain Sam Coleman of the Caucus gave the Invocation, fresh off the Tuesday night melee he had refereed at the Metro Council meeting when demonstrators interrupted the proceedings, mandating an unprecedented recess for things to settle down. Erica Gilmore, President of the Caucus and Council Lady-At-Large, introduced the two speakers for the evening.
Antonio Parkinson, State Black Caucus, spoke eloquently about how administration is colluding to ensure the pipeline of prisoners continues to feed Black men and women in modern slavery.
Parkinson is a Democratic member of the Tennessee House of Representatives representing District 98 since 2011. The Marine Corps veteran served in the Iraq War and now makes Memphis his home. He is a retired firefighter, business owner, and member of Breath of Life Christian Center. He has been named Tennessee Legislator of the Year three times and Regional Legislator of the Year once.
He is a staunch fighter for public education and to reform the state’s justice system.
Ms. Melody Fowler- Green, Executive Director of the Metro Human Relations Commission also addressed the audience.
Fowler-Green was the first staff attorney hired by the ACLU of Tennessee, where she worked on issues of racial justice, religious tolerance and LGBT rights. She argued the case before the Tennessee Supreme Court challenging the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
In private practice, she has represented low-wage workers and individuals in discrimination cases.
In attendance at the event were many friends and colleagues of the caucus members and of the African American community. Metro District Attorney Glenn Funk was singled out for his innovative approaches to bring justice by addressing financial barriers to persons engaged in the system.
State senator Jeff Yarbro and other local government officials also attended.