September General Membership Meeting

Our first General Membership meeting brought together nearly 100 people who were engaged and committed to the work of dismantling white supremacy in Tennessee.

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Jessi and Ashley provided a warm welcome and kicked us off.
Jessi and Ashley provided a warm welcome and kicked us off.
Anne kept us in time with her gentle ringing of the bell.
Anne kept us on time with her gentle ringing of the bell.
Brad walked us through SURJ Nashville's mission and purpose.
Brad walked us through SURJ Nashville’s mission statement which can be found here.
Marie introduced us to SURJ Nashville's five shared values before breaking the larger group into five smaller groups to examine each one.
Marie introduced us to SURJ Nashville’s five shared values before breaking the larger group into five smaller groups to examine each one.
Andrew presented information about membership into SURJ Nashville. If you'd like to become a member, click here!
Andrew presented information about membership into SURJ Nashville. If you’d like to become a member, click here!
Austin closed out the meeting with a few inspiring calls to action for folks to take before we reconvene in October.
Austin closed out the meeting with a few inspiring calls to action for folks to take before we reconvene in October.

The Other Tennessee

Yesterday, the KKK launched a week-long training camp for youth in a little town in Arkansas. Open to people ages 16 and up, the camp seeks to build “a mighty army” to take back the white race from what they describe as “racial genocide.” 

In anticipation of this camp, some activists in Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia, and Tennessee began a conversation about what it would look like to shut it down. We quickly realized that we did not want to give the KKK, and groups like them, any more of the media spotlight than they already have. We thought, “Instead of bringing these groups more attention, what if we stepped out of silence and drowned them out? What if we said, ‘Hey World! We’re Southern and we envision a world where Black lives matter! We believe it and we’ll fight for it!‘” 

All throughout the South, hate groups are organizing rallies and protests in defense of their beloved Confederate flag. Right here in our own capitol white supremacists are organizing to defend the memory and legacy of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Though few people openly agree with the outright white supremacy of the KKK, or other such organizations that make their home in the South, the pervasive silence surrounding them serves as a protection. 
 
It’s time to step out of silence. We need to come together not only to speak out against white supremacy, but to support and build communities where such hate finds no protection. The time has come for each of us to stand up in our home communities and ask ourselves, what will the coming generations expect of us?
Born in 1924, Anne Braden was a white Southern woman who was part of movements for racial justice throughout her life. She called these movements “the other America.” She wrote, “This other America has always existed, even before the slave ships arrived. African Americans have always fought against their oppression, and many died rather than endure slavery. And at least some whites have joined these struggles – in the early resistance to slavery, the Abolitionist movement, the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, the upsurges of people’s movements in the 1930s, the civil rights activities of the 1950s and ’60s, and beyond to today in the 21st century.” 
The other America is what we want to be part of – joining struggles for a new world. This isn’t just about simply proclaiming that not all Southern people are racist. This is about each of our roles in fighting against the cultures of silence that perpetuate such hate. After all, contemporary racism seldom shows up in klan robes, but it profits from the inaction of the moral majority.

Will we be a part of making a new world, or will we continue to let the voices of white supremacy speak louder, speak for us?

How to join The Other Tennessee movement:

1) Become a coalition partner! Email surjnashville@gmail.com.

2) Get the word out to your people!
3) “Like” us on Facebook here. Post photos to the FB page with the hashtags ‪#‎TheOtherTennessee‬ ‪#‎NotInMyName‬ ‪#‎WeMakeTheRoadByWalking‬ ‪#‎RiseUpAgainstHate‬ #BlackLivesMatter. Or, email us your photo and message and we will post them for you!
4) Encourage people to host living room conversations or film screenings about what it means to speak out against racism and white supremacy. The documentary films Anne Braden: Southern Patriot or You Got To Move: Stories of Change in the South might be a good place to start. Let us know if you’d like help facilitating, obtaining the films, or using other types of media to get a conversation started, and we’ll send ideas and help your way!
Building collective futures,
Marie
SURJ Nashville
I never knew anybody who really got active because of guilt. Everybody White that I know’s gotten involved in this struggle got into it because they glimpsed a different world to live in… Human beings have always been able to envision something better… All through history there have been people who have envisioned something better in the most dire situations. That’s what you want to be a part of.” – Anne Braden
See the regional coalition’s full statement here.
Read about our partners in Mississippi here.
Read about our partners in Arkansas here.

March Against Fear #ThisIsWORR

On Saturday, July 18, many SURJ folks turned out for the March Against Fear, Nashville’s contribution to the Week of Righteous Resistance (WORR). People across the country participated in counter-rallies to respond to the KKK rally planned in South Carolina. A coalition of students, clergy, and community organizations from across the state marched from the historic Greater Bethel AME Church to the Tennessee State Capitol.

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Please direct resources to rebuilding black churches. Click here to donate.
Read the Liturgy for Generosity and Charity for Black Churches Arsons.
Read more about WORR here: http://thisisworr.org.

Read more here:

http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/2015/07/18/nashville-march-memorializes-chattanooga-charleston-tragedies/30357241/

http://www.scrippsmedia.com/newschannel5/news/More-Than-100-March-Against-Fear-In-Response-To-Shootings-317039481.html

http://www.tennessean.com/picture-gallery/news/2015/07/18/nashville-group-protests-against-violence-in-chattanooga-charleston/30352039/?hootPostID=f2b32a59870bb2a08e38950a696c13a6


Event Info:

 March Against Fear will still be held Saturday, July 18at 11:00am – 3:00pm but the new location is now the Greater Bethel AME Nashville 1300 South St, Nashville.

The March Against Fear will still be going forward. However, because of local policies in Pulaski preventing us from obtaining a permit to march and residents very real concerns/ fears regarding the repercussions of our actions when we all leave, the march will now be taking place in Nashville. Our message will be the same as we march to the Tennessee State Capitol– on the same day the KKK will be holding their rally at the Capitol in SC– in solidarity with the residents of Charleston one month after the tragic attack, and to challenge our state’s own regressive policies, deeply rooted in racism and fear that deny healthcare, voting rights, living wage jobs, and fairness in the criminal justice system. 

In addition, we will continue to work with the community in Pulaski on actions to address the violence of both racism and poverty that affect the area beginning with a community forum, providing a safe space for residents to begin telling the truth of their experiences.

—ORIGINAL DETAILS BELOW—

On July 18, 2015, a coalition of students, clergy, and community organizations from across the state invite all who seek racial equality, social justice and peace to march 14 miles from Minor Hill, TN to Pulaski, TN in an effort to grow a moral movement for positive social change. This march will be in solemn commemoration of the victims of the Emanuel AME massacre in Charleston, SC, and embarked upon because we believe it’s time to move forward together in the spirit of unwavering hope and love that will dispel the hatred that’s forever changed those families and many throughout the country.

In the tradition of the March Against Fear from Memphis to Jackson in 1966 — a major civil rights demonstration launched by James Meredith to counter racism that followed the passage of federal civil rights legislation — we’ll join together to challenge the fear that is at the base of all white supremacy. We’ll call for an end to the Jim Crow culture of intimidation existing in the formal displays of historically racist symbols and iconography such as the Confederate battle flag, but also in the fundamentally racist policies that suppress voter rights, access to healthcare, quality education and living wages.

We have chosen the route from Minor Hill to Pulaski based on data from the Southern Poverty Law Center that indicates that Tennessee has 29 active hate groups — more than any of our surrounding states. In February, a Tennessee man and member of a Klan-affiliated church was fined and sentenced to jail for burning a cross in an interracial couple’s yard in Minor Hill. Just 12 miles away, the small town of Pulaski is known as the 1865 founding site of the KKK and a historical epicenter of white supremacy. Though residents have actively challenged such groups since 1989 when Pulaski closed its businesses to protest a march by white supremacists, every October the town is violated by the Ku Klux Klan’s “Heritage Festival” where racist skinheads, neo-Nazis and klansmen have gathered for decades. The Knights and their families march up and down the street with KKK flags, selling racist tracts, pins and Klan robe patches.

We recognize this as proof that our racist history isn’t just back to haunt us. It never left. We know we live in a country where racist violence exists—unabated and unreconstructed—both in symbol and in policy. We are not distant from the crimes, inhumanities and hatred of the past; and therefore, we seek to meet these wrongs where they are and eliminate them for good through an ever-more-powerful sense of unity and love. It is for this purpose that we ask all concerned peoples to walk with us from Minor Hill to Pulaski on July 18 and call for an end to fear and hate.

In the words of North Carolina NAACP and Moral Mondays leader, Rev. William Barber:

“Let’s take down the flag, but also, let’s put together an omnibus bill in the name of the nine martyrs and all of the things Reverend Pinckney was standing for. Pinckney was not just opposed to the flag, he was opposed to the denial of Medicaid expansion. He was opposed to voter suppression in South Carolina. He was opposed to those who have celebrated the ending of the Voting Rights Act. He was opposed to the lack of funding for public education. He wanted to see living wages raised. And if we want harmony, we have to talk about racism, not just in terms of symbol, but in the substance of policies. The flag went up to fight policies. If we’re going to bring it down, we’re also going to have to change policies, and particularly policies that create disparate impact on black, brown and poor white people.”

Join as we March Against Fear on July 18. Together we can resolve racial, social, economic, and political conflict, and finally build the beloved community that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of.

Forward Together! Not One Step Back!