The Nashville Metropolitan Minority Caucus is made up of 10 members from the Metro Council that fight for equity, diversity and equality for the Black and Brown communities in Nashville. On Tuesday night they held their 2021 caucus reception in honor of Black History Month, highlighting their 2020 wins and 2021 agenda. The reception was held virtually by being broadcast on YouTube and Facebook.
“Tonight is a celebration of everything that’s been accomplished and can be accomplished together,” said Mayor John Cooper at the opening the reception. “We’re all asking how can we make Nashville a city that works for everyone, and this caucus brings a critical voice to that conversation. We must ensure that all of Metro Nashville reflects all its people. I want to think this caucus for bringing your leadership to that work.”
“We are working to ensure that those who have been marginalized have the opportunity to grow, contribute, and develop in this city. We will continue to build sustaining policies rather than just promoting displays of tokenism” said Councilwoman-at-Large and Minority Caucus Chair Sharon Hurt.
According to District 29 Councilwoman Delishia Porterfield who also serves as Minority Caucus Vice Chair, 2020 was a year where opinions on racial justice experienced a dramatic shift.
“We saw hundreds of thousands of people nationwide take to the streets,” said Porterfield. “Not since the civil rights movement in the 1960s have we seen such a powerful public response. It was a contagious outside spread across the globe. There was an international solidarity in conferencing racial injustice. It was a turbulent year, but it was also a game changer.”
This year, the Minority Caucus was able to “harness the energy of the moment into meaningful and lasting change.”
Those changes include:
- All caucus members have served or are serving as vice chair or chair of a standing committee.
- Two Minority Caucus members serve on the COVID-19 Financial Oversight Committee, resulting in more equitable outcomes.
- We have successfully advocated for a ‘chief diversity officer,’ a diversity manager and director of the office of new Americans.
- Legislation was passed to rename 5th Ave. after U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
- An African American police chief was appointed.
The Minority Caucus also identified seven key issues as their primary areas of focus for 2021. The Caucus is committing to prioritize work on the following:
- Increasing Affordable Housing
- Supporting efforts of criminal justice reform
- Addressing food deserts in minority communities
- Ensuring that equitable transit options exist in minority communities
- Minority healthcare (especially ensuring equity in vaccine distribution)
- Diversifying the Boards and Commissions that serve our city
- Supporting Nashville General Hospital
Dr. James Hildreth was awarded the Pioneer Award in recognition of his expertise in infectious diseases and promoting science, reason, and fighting for equity during the global pandemic. Rev. Al Sharpton, the keynote speaker, charged the audience to open the door and create equitable spaces for the next generation by not getting weary in the struggle for justice.
“The reason you’re a caucus is because people in their time fought and opened doors [for you],” he said.
“You and I didn’t open the doors we walked through. And since the price was paid for us, there is a debt owed by us. We use our access to do the things that they would want you to do.”
The Caucus also acknowledged new TNDP Chair Hendrell Remus and shared a tribute in memory of former Councilman Kwame Lillard.
The Maynard Group was this year’s Presenting Sponsor and Title Sponsor, Jigsaw. Platinum level sponsors include: the Tennessee Titans. Gold level include: Waller, Amazon, The Strategy Group, Calvert Street Group. Silver sponsors include: The Don Hardin Group, Hall Strategies, and Baylor Company.