Building power in place—‘Nashville: Reshaping the City Towards an Economy for All’

Massive protest for George Floyd & Black Lives in May, 2020, at Nashville’s Legislative Plaza led in part by Equity Alliance & Stand Up Nashville. (photo by Odessa Kelly)

Nashville’s population has rapidly increased in recent years. While being recognized as the state’s ‘it’ city, it has equity issues that three women-led organizations are uniquely working to address.

Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG), an organization comprised of grant makers, organizers, and advocates that bring funders together to support racial, economic, gender, and climate justice movements, has released a report, ‘Nashville: Reshaping the City Towards and Economy for All.’

According to NFG: “Nashville, Tennessee, while it might escape the national headlines, is precisely such a region of change in the equations of power and in shifting towards economic equity.”

The report highlights the work of The Equity Alliance, Stand Up Nashville, and the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, and contains detailed recommendations on the role funders can play to more effectively support such movements.

“Each organization is helmed by Black women who have built a powerful collaborative infrastructure with few resources but tremendous political and economic results for low-income residents of color,” according to NFG. “The strategy and win [of Our Fair Share] also embodied the nuanced inside-outside strategy that SUN and TEA has led, building a solid base of community support that protests and applies pressure when needed, while also developing partnerships with administrators and officials in office and providing them much-needed insight from the community.

Today, political voting patterns show a population that leans more ‘blue,’ especially considered relative to the rest of the state. But blue can often mean a much more corporate, liberal agenda versus equity or racial justice—and the voices of a wide range of Black, migrant and other non-White residents have been left out. It has not always translated (at all) into a unified agenda of policy serving marginalized communities.

EA, SUN, the CLC, and other affiliated groups have redefined this agenda from helping push an agenda of transparency and responsiveness in development, to advancing a platform of good jobs and ensuring that an analysis of racial equity shapes the distribution of services.”