The Mandate: A Call and Response from Black Lives Matter Atlanta

The family at BLM Atlanta put together a powerful video and a mandate for us all. Check it out.


[sound of helicopter above with music fading in]

Mary Hooks: All across the nation from Baton Rouge to Asheville to Minnesota, Black bodies and police violence is showing that this country is crushing under the weight of white supremacy.

[Sound of helicopter fades out and music continues]

Black leadership! Black leadership! Y’all said to us, “Every generation has a demand,” and you right. We do! Here’s what it is: Divest! Divest! Divest from prisons, jails, courts. The vision of justice for us does not include cages. The vision of justice for us allows us to walk in our communities with safety and dignity for all Black people: those that are differently abled, Black women, Black children, queer bodies, trans women. All of our brilliance deserves that. That is public safety. So, whoever is defining it come talk to us, because we have a different vision. Get behind it or get beside us and the organizations, and the communities, and the people we represent.

We just gettin’ ready! We just gettin’ ready. And to all of our people who are listening, all the people of the across the country right now, all of the people in solidarity right now from Canada to South Africa, all of our people in Palestine right now: This a different moment that we are in. We have a mandate! We have a mandate! And damn it we gon’ do it.

Mary: Call and response!

Person to Mary’s right: Call and response!

Mary: Call and response!

Crowd: Call and response!

Mary: Call and response!

Crowd: Call and response!

Mary: The mandate for Black people in this time!

Crowd: The mandate for Black people in this time!

Mary: Is to avenge the suffering of our ancestors!

Crowd: Is to avenge the suffering of our ancestors!

Mary: To earn the respect of future generations!

Crowd: To earn the respect of future generations!

Mary: And be willing to be transformed in the service of the work!

Crowd: And be willing to be transformed in the service of the work!

[Music plays till the end]


The Movement For Black Lives Platform


On August 1st, 2016 the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 50 organizations, released it’s platform. Black Lives Matter Nashville stands in solidarity with the organizations involved and the demands that have been raised. As the platform states:

Black humanity and dignity requires black political will and power. In response to the sustained and increasingly visible violence against Black communities in the U.S. and globally, a collective of more than 50 organizations representing thousands of Black people from across the country have come together with renewed energy and purpose to articulate a common vision and agenda. We are a collective that centers and is rooted in Black communities, but we recognize we have a shared struggle with all oppressed people; collective liberation will be a product of all of our work.

Learn more about the platform here. 

Vigil for #AltonSterling and #PhilandoCastile – Nashville


We’ve all been deeply impacted by the murder of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. We want to hold space for those of us who are mourning, in pain, and want to be around others. Join us Friday night at 7pm at Public Square.

Here’s what we’re asking you to bring:
-Candles (Lighters)
-Bottled Water

Parking: you can find parking on the streets and in garages. We encourage folks to carpool if you can as it appears there will be a high turn out.

You can RSVP for the vigil on Facebook here.

For any inquiries, please email BLM Nashville at


What Does the “State of Metro” Look Like From Below?


April 28, 2016




What Does the “State of Metro” Look Like From Below?

Local organizers and homeless camp residents to hold silent vigil at Mayor’s State of Metro Address, followed by “The People’s State of Metro” press conference

What: Silent Vigil and “The People’s State of Metro” Press Conference

When: Friday, April 29, 11:30 a.m. (vigil) and 12:30 p.m. (press conference)

Where: Ascend Amphitheater, 301 1st Ave. South

Nashville, Tenn. — This Friday, April 29, more than 150 people from across Nashville will join with homeless camp residents and local organizers active in struggles for social, economic, and racial justice to hold a silent vigil during the Mayor’s State of Metro address. The purpose of this vigil (and the press conference following it) is to highlight the contrasts between the rapidly booming “It City” and the daily struggles for survival experienced by tens of thousands of Nashvillians who are not reaping the benefits of Nashville’s growth. By gathering during and after the Mayor’s State of Metro address, organizers will invite city leaders and stakeholders to place people over profit by building a Nashville that truly benefits all of its residents, especially those who continue to struggle in the shadows of the city’s progress.

The vigil to be held during the Mayor’s State of Metro address will highlight the fact that Metro continues to move forward with the dismantling of the encampment at Fort Negley despite the fact that some residents still have no place to go. In the absence of (1) land for authorized encampments that adequately address all unhoused persons’ shelter needs, and (2) a comprehensive affordable housing plan (0-60% Davidson County Median Income)—both of which residents and advocates demanded on April 15 at a rally at City Hall—the displacement of the residents at Fort Negley and other encampments is an insufficient and immoral response to Metro’s affordable housing crisis.

“If we don’t stand up now, then we’ll all fall together,” says Ray Telford, a homeless camp resident in Nashville. “It’s not just about Fort Negley—it’s about all of us. Where are people supposed to go? It’s going to take all of us to change this and we’ve got to unite and raise our voices. We need to be heard.”

While housing advocates have expressed appreciation for Mayor Barry’s recently announced $10 million addition to the Barnes Housing Trust Fund, they have also made clear that $10 million does not come close to the $125 million that housing experts have recommended be added to the housing trust fund in order to adequately address Nashville’s affordable housing crisis.

“We are at a critical moment in Nashville’s history as a city,” says housing expert and Vanderbilt University professor Jim Fraser. “While some people are benefitting from the upscale development around town, many Nashvillians have seen their wages stagnate while housing values have far outpaced what they can afford. This is not a new problem. We know that many people, upon whose backs this city’s prosperity has been built, are struggling everyday to makes ends meet. The provision of safe, decent affordable housing for all people living in Nashville must be a priority.”

Following the Mayor’s address, organizers will hold “The People’s State of Metro” press conference. Because homelessness, housing, and criminalization are deeply intertwined with issues of workers’ rights, fair wages, economic and racial justice, mass incarceration, healthcare, immigrant and refugee rights, and other struggles for dignity and survival, The People’s State of Metro press conference will bring together leaders from these issues and movements to proclaim loud and clear what the “state of Metro” looks like from the underside of our city.

The People’s State of Metro press conference will highlight the critical importance of prioritizing “People Over Profit.” A Nashville to celebrate, organizers will argue, is one that incorporates at every level a priority for all of its people before it secures profits for high-end and entertainment development. It is possible to develop a city in a way that benefits its most vulnerable and historically exploited and ignored residents, but organizers will provide evidence for the fact that the current “State of Metro,” where one in five residents lives below the poverty line, looks different from the perspective of those left out of its recent successes and growth. A Nashville that actually holds people over profit is a Nashville that benefits all of us.

Schedule of Events:

11:30 a.m. – Silent Vigil outside of Ascend Amphitheater

12:30 p.m. – The People’s State of Metro Press Conference on the public lawn adjacent to Ascend Amphitheater

– END –

Statement on Harriet Tubman and the $20 Bill



We have mixed feelings about the Treasury Department’s decision to place ex-enslaved and black feminist abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the twenty-dollar bill. On one hand, it’s past time this country recognizes the important contributions black women have made toward moving this country toward a more perfect union. And we do understand that representation is important.


On the other hand, what good is representation and symbolic gestures without substantive change behind them? This same country that has chosen to put a black woman on our currency is the same country that has decided to occupy Cayce Homes in Nashville with a greater police presence. It’s the same country that has chosen to arrest 6-11 year olds at Hobgood elementary in Murfreesboro. It’s the same country who has passed discrimination legislation against the trans community. It’s the same country where the wage gap between white men and women of color is greater than ever.

If Harriet Tubman’s image on the $20 bills does anything, we hope it will compel us to materialize the freedom and liberation Tubman fought for. If the image does anything, we hope it will encourage us to realize that black lives and black women do, indeed, matter.

Op-Ed: Occupation is Not Safety

by Rhiana Anthony

This editorial is a calling out to call-in and hold the people who hold power in this city accountable for the realities they create. I first heard about the series of altercations that took place within the Cayce community through the Tennessean. As I read through the story, I was immediately disheartened and infuriated by the state violence that the residents of Cayce would be subjected to in the coming days and weeks. I do not use the word violence lightly. Any practice or strategy that justifies dehumanization and implies racist assumptions of criminality is violence. The plan that has been devised to make Cayce “safer” is really just police occupation and state-sanctioned surveillance. The coded word “resources” is flippantly being used to describe the installation of 150 surveillance cameras, monitoring by an MNPD helicopter, and a substantial increase in police presence. Although it was an unfortunate occurrence in the community, the aggressive infiltration of MNPD in Cayce is exaggerated and reactionary.

What has been most upsetting to me is the hypocritical politics of Mayor Megan Barry throughout this whole ordeal. Mayor Barry ran her mayoral campaign on the backs of Nashville progressives, organizers, and activists that wanted to see a new Nashville. A change from business as usual. Barry has talked a good game, so far but is beginning to engage in behaviors that look a lot like the old establishment. In Mayor Barry’s progressive election campaign and platform, she vowed that she would look at policing and criminal justice differently. A standing room only crowd witnessed this at the Nashville Mayoral Forum hosted by the Nashville to End the New Jim Crow in April 2015. Barry describes how she felt as she read Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” as “eye-opening” and condemned “the systematic way that the criminal justice system has failed African-Americans.” She went on to talk about how officials like her had the power to remove as much bias as possible and should use it. Mayor Barry used her power irresponsibly this week. In reaction to the events of the Cayce incident, Mayor Barry articulates in the press conference that she would support prosecution to the fullest extent of the law for run-ins with law enforcement. She continues to verbally cosign the problematic strategies and tactics of the Metro Nashville Police Department. This misaligns with a lot of the ideals and values that she has proclaimed to purport.

This is in the context of a lot of politics that are currently operating in Nashville and around the country centered on disproportionate policing of black and brown bodies, the dissolution of public housing, and gentrification. The fair housing wars are escalating and the city government is on the wrong side of it targeting Nashville’s poorest and blackest. Nashville’s government needs a moral readjustment. What officials say and do in meetings and forums must materialize in practice and policy. Our lives depend on your integrity.


IMG_8129.jpgRhiana Anthony, M. Ed., is a youth trauma and grief specialist and member of Black Lives Matter Nashville. Rhiana has a Masters in Community Development and Action from Vanderbilt University.

BLM Nashville Statement on Library Meeting Space Cancellation 

After several months of meeting at the North Branch library, on Wednesday (2/19), the Nashville Chapter of Black Lives Matter was contacted through email and by phone that library administrators received complaints regarding BLM’s policy of general meetings being open to black and non-black people of color only. Although meeting rooms are available to local organizations for use of a “cultural” nature, we were informed that “due to the library policy of open meetings for meeting room use,” all future meetings held at the library would be cancelled.” Ironically, all cancelled dates were in February during Black History Month. The Nashville Chapter of BLM has this policy in place to center the voices and experiences of people of color that have historically been excluded or segregated within supposedly public spaces. Black and/or people of color only spaces are often questioned and viewed with suspicion, though there is seldom any interrogation of white-only board rooms and staffs. However, we view these spaces as integral to healing and community building, particularly to those who have experienced racialized violence and ardently maintain this policy as imperative to the work and mission of BLM. 
We understand and even honor the importance of the library as an invaluable site of accessible information, community events, and safe space, often especially for disenfranchised people without homes and people of color, but if it cannot or will not support our values we will continue to meet elsewhere.

TNTJ Trans Identities Teach-In Saturday 2/13

Instead of our regularly schedule general body meeting, please join the BLM fam this Saturday at TNTJ’s Trans-Identities Teach-IN (FREE EVENT). We think this is extremely important to attend because ALL black lives matter!! Please find information below. See you there! 


The Tennessee Trans Journey Project, in association with the Nashville Human Rights Campaign and the Vanderbilt Students of Nonviolence, is presenting a Teach-In on Trans Identities at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, in Furman Hall, Room 114. Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Erin Swenson. ( Dr. Swenson will be presenting her talk, “If Anybody Asks You Who I Am: Confessions of a Transgender Troublemaker.”
There will be presentations introducing trans identities, both binary and nonbinary, challenges facing the trans community, intersectionality and black trans women, trans healthcare issues and allyship both individual and institutional, as well as a panel discussion with the presenters. There will be catering with vegan and kosher options.

There is no cost for the event, though donations to TNTJ will be gladly accepted.

The event will be in Furman Hall room 114, on the Vanderbilt campus, near the intersection of Terrace Place and 21st Ave (see wall post with map). Two-hour metered street parking is available in this area (see map).


There is also public parking available in the following spaces:
-Terrace Place Garage, spaces 41-92, 21st Avenue & Terrace Place (Shown here)
-Wesley Place Garage, spaces 52-170, 21st Avenue & Scarritt Place
If you have any questions or concerns about accessibility, you can call or text Carmela at (971)221-3006 or email at chillburke@gmail.com