Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Pilgrimage for Jobs, Equity, and Fairness

Nashville is proud of its civil rights history. The Freedom Riders and other college students, who conducted sit-in’s in the 1960’s, gave their energy, time and hearts to the civil rights movement here in the South.

Several groups in Nashville advocate for the disadvantaged much like during the civil rights movement, focusing on the rights of immigrants, women, minorities, and searching for racial and economic fairness. Others focus on poverty, hunger, children and youth, human rights, and the cradle to prison pipeline including nonprofits who work with felons, the impoverished, the disabled, the elderly and the needy. Nashville should be proud of these programs and creating a more coordinated and cooperative collaboration among all these services can benefit us all.

Now, a Pilgrimage March will be held in Nashville on July 21 - 23, 2o13. The Pilgrimage is modeled after the Gandhi Salt March in 1930 and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Selma to Montgomery campaign prompting The Voting Rights Act of 1965. Several activists will begin a 2-1/2 day, 20+ mile march walking from the MLK bridge throughout Nashville, then downtown for a press conference at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, July 23rd. To shed light on communities with entrenched poverty, Pilgrimage Hosts will offer testimonials at 13 stops along the way, particularly in some of Nashville’s most impoverished areas like public housing developments. Throughout the march church and community leaders, residents and activists will present their views of these current struggles. This march will follow the principles of nonviolence taught by Ghandi and King. Everyone who is committed to nonviolent action is invited to participate in the march.

On July 1st, the Tennessean published an article by Sekou Franklin, PhD, one of the leaders of this march. He described the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) whose design neglects to touch many of these same communities, those that would benefit greatly from the BRT. Because council members and residents complained about this, the Mayor now “hopes to start running ‘lite’ bus rapid transit along Charlotte and Nolensville Pikes in about a year:” http://

Please contact your council members and the Mayor to tell them about what still needs to be done to bring more fairness to our transportation and criminal justice systems, and to our educational programs to offer all of Nashville’s people a better place to live. Our message includes the belief that everyone has the freedom to thrive here in Tennessee.

Yes, Nashville has come a long way and has its roots planted firmly in history as one of the best cities in the South for business, education, health care and tourism. Let’s add to those strengths by working hard for all communities, all races, cultures, and religions. Thank you for your part in making Nashville a more friendly, fair and compassionate place to live.

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