Rest In Power: Jocques Scott Clemmons

Tonight we lift up the name JOCQUES SCOTT CLEMMONS of Nashville who was shot and killed by police today in Cayce Homes. All too often, traffic stops end up deadly for black people #DrivingWhileBlack. A passed stop sign yields flashing blue lights and our hearts race as our palms begin to sweat and fear kicks in, not knowing if today, if this time will be the day. We center and uplift the grieving family of JOCQUES and the community of Cayce Homes that witnessed his murder. We will not stop saying his name- reaffirming his humanity each time. We are often stripped of our humanity when killed by the police and portrayed to be criminals, defiant of “authority”, violent- none of which are a death sentence. JOCQUES was a human being, born flesh and blood who was loved by his family, not unlike many of us. This could have been any of us tonight. Many of us are grieving, many of us are angry. We have every right to be. You are affirmed in being angry and in being heartbroken.

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We reject any narrative that will be spun by local news sources that paint JOCQUES as anything other than a human being. A human being who lived, and breathed, and smiled and whose life was stolen today. Stolen by a system that often goes unchecked, with no impunity. “When crime is organized enough, it isn’t even illegal”. It becomes systemic and is ingrained in the very fabric of our society in the form of laws and policies and the enforcement of these laws and policies. News reports will soon follow. Push back. Push back. Push back. Push back for JOCQUES’ humanity. Push back for JOCQUES’ family. Push back for our folks. We must love and protect one another.

And now JOCQUES SCOTT CLEMMONS is #JocquesScottClemmons joining countless others whose lives were stolen.  #NotAGunman

-BLM Nashville

On Fundraising

This month, Black Lives Matter Nashville started our first large scale fundraiser. We’re so grateful to those who have already donated and are happy to say that we’ve already raised over $6,000. However, we still have a long way to reach our $100,000 goal.

That figure may seem daunting right now, but we’re certain that our community has the potential to take us there. You may rightfully ask yourself why we are asking for so much, and we respect that curiosity. After hours of deliberation, the leadership core decided that $100,000 will adequately fund full-time organizers, space, and operations for one year.

While activism is something that everyone should feel able to participate in, real organizing is demanding work. You may only see us when we’re marching in the streets, but there’s a lot of work that happens behind the scenes, including: emails, phone calls, letter writing, interviews, etc. The leadership core has been dedicated to building leadership and organizing for the past two years while maintaining jobs and/or school work. As we progress, it’s important for us to have dedicated staff members to do the day to day work of BLM. While we could hire an “intern” or someone part-time, we believe that this work is critical to transforming our city and feel that people should be compensated fairly for their work and provided benefits, thus we are looking for $80,000 to pay two full-time organizers.

Currently BLM holds meetings and events in a variety of spaces: churches, schools, or sometimes our own homes. While we are eternally grateful for the kindness we’ve been shown by community members who open their doors for us, we know that it’s about time for us to have a (semi-permanent) physical space of our own. We’ve crunched some numbers and looked at a few rental properties in North Nashville. That’s how we came up with the number $9600 including rent and utilities for one year. In addition to being functional for meetings and organizing, our own physical space would be a symbol to the black community of Nashville that BLM stands with you, for you, and next to you.

In addition to finding time and space to run BLM Nashville, the leadership core also uses their own money to fund its operations. The food for meetings, the art supplies for direct actions, software, security, travel and accommodations are usually paid for by the personal funds of the leadership core.  We expect to use about $10,000 in operating expenses in 2017, and would love for the collective wealth of our community to participate in funding these expenses.  We want this movement to be led and supported by the community of Nashville.

Click here to help fund the growth of Black Lives Matter Nashville.

Books & Breakfast: Black Revolutionary Women Thinkers Additional Reading

 

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On Saturday, January 28th BLM Nashville and Protect the Culture hosted a Books & Breakfast on Black Revolutionary Women thinkers. We read and discussed works from Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Octavia Butler, and Kimberle Crenshaw. Over 75 people joined us as we learned and grew together.

 

Many have asked for additional reading, so we wanted to provide a few places people could turn to for some additional reading:

Angela Davis

Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement

Women, Race, and Class

Angela Davis: An Autobiography

Are Prisons Obsolete?

Abolition Democracy: Beyond Prison, Torture, and Empire

Assata Shakur: 

Assata: An Autobiography 

bell hooks: 

Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

Killing Rage: Ending Racism

Audre Lorde: 

Sister Outsider: Essays & Speeches

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

The Cancer Journals

Octavia Butler: 

Kindred

Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Talents 

Kimberle Crenshaw: 

Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement

Finally, check out our Bibliography for the Revolution! Make sure you keep up with what BLM Nashville and Protect the Culture are doing. We’ll be back in February with another Books & Breakfast. And if you haven’t already, consider donating to help us keep this movement going. 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

TRANSCRIPT:
[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

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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

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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:
-CDs
-Candles (Lighters)
-Signs/Poster
-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 blacklivesmatternashville@gmail.com

 

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 28, 2016

 

Contact:

projects@brettflener.com

615-948-1458

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

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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.