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Nashville Pride

Brenda Gilmore makes use of valuable resources, new avenues

NASHVILLE PRDE — Mid-week ‘campaign flows’ revved up in North Nashville at the meet and greet fundraiser for state Rep. Brenda Gilmore.

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Brenda Gilmore with daughter Erica Gilmore and Randy Button of the Capitol Strategy Group. (photo D. Culp)

By Deborah A. Culp

Mid-week ‘campaign flows’ revved up in North Nashville at the meet and greet fundraiser for state Rep. Brenda Gilmore. Dwayne Collier and former Councilman and current Nashville NAACP President Ludye Wallace hosted the event at their ‘Ten45’ venue, located at 1045 Dr. Enoch Jones Blvd. and Clifton Ave., behind Mary’s Barbecue. There was a mixture of old and new friends, families and supporters, civic and community leaders, including: Randy Button of the Capitol Strategy Group; Councilwoman-at-larger Erica Gilmore (with daughter Anayah Gilmore); Rev. Vernita Lewis; and Lola Brown.

Brenda Gilmore and Ludye Wallace. (photo by D. Culp)

[/media-credit] Brenda Gilmore and Ludye Wallace.

Raising money wasn’t the main crux of the evening. It was about connecting with the community and what lies ahead for the upcoming serious election. Throughout the campaign Brenda Gilmore has stood firmly for things affecting Nashvillian’s lives. The importance of everyone registering to vote and then voting for whomever they choose has been essential to her message.

“It’s amazing how many people misunderstand or simply do not know how to vote,” stated one guest.

Brenda continues to fight on the front lines to attract good paying jobs for working families, expand Medicare, other accesses to health care, and improve the quality of life for all who call Tennessee home. She advocates heavily for seniors and is committed to finding more solutions to youth violence.

Rep. Brenda Gilmore has been serving the Nashville community for more than two decades. As a strong voice for Nashville in the Metro Council and as an experienced and progressive leader in the Tennessee General Assembly, Gilmore is one of Tennessee’s most trusted and dedicated leaders.

Brenda Gilmore and Granddaughter Anayah Gilmore. (photo by D. Culp)

[/media-credit] Brenda Gilmore and Granddaughter Anayah Gilmore.

With the November 6 General Election coming up, there may not be enough time in a day to get everyone registered—but clearly the effort is paramount. No one can be a productive force without teamwork, and Brenda is blessed to have a core team and a satellite team behind her.

Gilmore and her campaign team have reached out and are still accepting volunteers and campaign participants. Much work still needs to be done, and that factor will double on Election Day.

For more information, visit www.brendagilmoreforsenate.com.

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

Film

At the Movies: Spider-Man: Far from Home; Yesterday; andThe Fall of the American Empire

NASHVILLE PRIDE — Families going to the cinema with members who don’t particularly care for superheroes and haven’t kept up with the amazing Marvel Cinematic Universe do have films that will tickle their fancy, though, and two are real gems: Yesterday and The Fall of the American Empire.

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Tom Holland is Peter Parker aka Spider-Man and Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury in Spider-Man Far from Home.

By Cass Teague

This first weekend of July, movie-goers have many choices. Chief among them, of course, is the Marvel Studios spectacular Spider-Man: Far from Home. Families going to the cinema with members who don’t particularly care for superheroes and haven’t kept up with the amazing Marvel Cinematic Universe do have films that will tickle their fancy, though, and two are real gems: Yesterday and The Fall of the American Empire.

First, though, Spider-Man: Far from Home is a rollicking adventure that will keep you thoroughly entertained at a high level of special effects (taking a dozen visual effects houses to render), with a few surprises along the way that will have you gasping, and leave you completely mind-blown at the end. Speaking of the end, you have to stay through the end of the credits, and I mean all the way through to the very end of the credits and they shut off the projector.

Samuel L. Jackson is awesome once again as Nick Fury, and along with Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill, the S.H.I.E.L.D. duo intervenes when Peter Parker, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, embarks on a class science trip to Europe. All the teenager wants to do is profess his love for MJ, but ya know, superhero stuff gets in the way. Tom Holland and Zendaya are heartwarmingly loveable as the two star-crossed potential lovers, and their story highlights the quandary that plagues Marvel superheroes – how to balance saving the world with trying to have a normal life.

Without massive spoilers, and there is plenty to spoil here, trust me, as you will see, just buckle up for the ride and enjoy this continuation of the MCU that honors all that we went through in the Avengers Infinity War and Endgame films. I suggest that you may want to try 3D, IMAX 3D, or dare I say, the incredible 4DX that puts you in the action, for this one.

So, if superheroes aren’t your thing, and you tag along to the multiplex with a group or family, try a musical fantasy or a French-language crime thriller.

Yesterday is hilarious, laugh out loud British romantic comedy film directed by Danny Boyle and written by Richard Curtis. The film stars Himesh Patel as a musician who, after an accident, finds himself as the only person who remembers the Beatles, and becomes famous taking credit for writing and performing their songs. Lily James, Ed Sheeran, and Kate McKinnon also star.

The Fall of the American Empire is a Quebec crime thriller film starring Alexandre Landry, Maxim Roy, Yan England and Rémy Girard. It is about a man (Landry) who, after an armed robbery in Montreal, discovers two bags with millions of dollars cash and is on a journey after he takes them. Based on a real 2010 Old Montreal shooting, this film is at times shocking and suspenseful, as it takes you places you may not want to go, but brings you back in one piece. Be prepared to read the English subtitles throughout.

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

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Nashville Pride

Metro Council candidate Andre Southall suspends campaign, endorses Councilman DeCosta Hastings

NASHVILLE PRIDE — Andre Southall called Councilman DeCosta Hastings on Tuesday and told him he wanted to suspend his campaign and endorse DeCosta for re-election. According to sources, Southall said that he has observed all that Councilman Hastings has done for District 2, has seen his vision, and wants to help him “finish up what has been started.”

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District 2 candidate Andre Southall (r) has suspended his campaign and endorsed Councilman DeCosta Hastings (l) for re-election.

By Pride Newsdesk

Andre Southall called Councilman DeCosta Hastings on Tuesday and told him he wanted to suspend his campaign and endorse DeCosta for re-election.

According to sources, Southall said that he has observed all that Councilman Hastings has done for District 2, has seen his vision, and wants to help him “finish up what has been started.”

Southall recognized some of the achievements that Hastings has brought to the district including the expansion of Clarksville Highway, affordable housing, and economic development.

Hastings said that he appreciates Southall’s support and that he looks forward to working with him during his second term.

“I am very glad to have his support to help win this election,” said Hastings. “District 2 has a lot of challenges to overcome and with his and the community’s support we will get there together.”

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

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Education

Cost-of-Living adjustments set for all teachers Extra 3% effective January 1 in addition to 3% raise effective now

NASHVILLE PRIDE — Mayor David Briley announced on Monday that all MNPS teachers and employees will receive another three percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) on January 1, 2020, in addition to the three percent COLA the mayor made possible by allocating nearly $30 million in new funding for schools for FY2020. This allocation was six times the allocation in the last budget.

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Mayor Briley in April, delivering his State of Metro address. Briley announced on Monday that Metro teachers will receive an extra 3% raise in 2020 in addition to a 3% raise already in effect. (Photo by: Michael Bunch – Metro Photographer)

By Pride Newsdesk

Mayor David Briley announced on Monday that all MNPS teachers and employees will receive another three percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) on January 1, 2020, in addition to the three percent COLA the mayor made possible by allocating nearly $30 million in new funding for schools for FY2020. This allocation was six times the allocation in the last budget.

For weeks, the mayor has been working to find ways to get teachers more money this year while avoiding a tax increase. Thanks to MDHA’s help and the work done by the Council’s Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee, Mayor Briley is able to free up $7.5 million that would have been paid out of the MNPS budget to repay TIF loans. These funds are recurring, so the raise is ‘paid for’ moving forward. This move does not require Council action since it will simply result in a reduced expenditure for MNPS.

This will bring all teachers to a 6% raise on January 1, 2020, which equates to a 4.5% increase over the course of the year. This is .5% higher than the COLA increase in the proposed substitute budgets that would have raised property taxes.

“I have been working on the MNPS budget with Dr. Battle and Dr. Gentry, trying to find the best possible way to get recurring dollars to teachers while not penalizing the 40% of MNPS teachers who are ‘topped out’ and while avoiding a property tax increase this year—something that would have hurt in-county teachers more than the proposed raises would have helped,” Mayor Briley said. “With this increase in place, we will continue our in-depth talks about comprehensive pay plan restructuring for teachers so the more than half of all teachers who are topped out of receiving meaningful increases will get them in future years. There’s work to be done, but this is an important first step.”

This plan has the support of MNPS School Board Chair Dr. Sharon Gentry and MNPS Director Dr. Adrienne Battle.

“Mayor Briley’s investment shows a deep commitment to our teachers and staff members, and we thank him for his leadership and support for public education,” Dr. Battle said.

“When Mayor Briley saw an opportunity for supplemental revenue, he ensured that it was dedicated to funding a raise for staff members, which is in addition to the raise they are receiving at the start of the year. We are only as successful as our amazing staff, and the Mayor’s actions show how he values them. Our goal is that these resources also ensure that we are able to maintain funding for other new strategic investments. MNPS is thankful to partner with the Mayor and Metro Council who are dedicated to the success of our students and staff.”

The $7.5 million will come to schools in the form of a reduction in the $11.2 million they would otherwise have paid to MDHA for TIF loan repayments this year. In short, it cuts that bill by $7.5 million, freeing up those funds for raises. MNPS will continue to pay what it is required to pay MDHA each year.

“I am grateful to Dr. Adrienne Battle, the MNPS Board, MDHA and the members of the TIF Study and Formulating Committee, whose hard work and support made this additional COLA possible,” Briley said. “I plan to keep at it, and I know we have more great things to come for all students and teachers in our schools.”

Clemmons: Briley’s attempt to appease teachers falls flat
Says Nashville’s teachers deserve better

 

State Rep. John Ray Clemmons, a candidate for mayor of Nashville, released the following statement regarding the Briley Administration’s most recent example of fiscal mismanagement:

“Today, we have witnessed yet another hollow attempt at political preservation disguised as a good faith attempt to provide our teachers with much-needed raises. While I appreciate that our mayor finally acknowledges the detrimental impact his lack of leadership is having on our teachers, we should call this announcement of a fiscally questionable plan right before early voting starts what it really is: the last gasp by a mayor in a tailspin. MNPS leadership’s last-minute receipt of this plan demonstrates the lack of transparency and patchwork policy-making that has defined this administration since day one.

State Rep. John Ray Clemmons

State Rep. John Ray Clemmons

“Briley has now had two budgets and multiple opportunities to make fundamental, fiscally responsible budgetary changes in Metro that could have directly benefited our schools and teachers for the benefit of students. Unfortunately, he repeatedly kicked the can down the road, costing our teachers a better quality of life and our students two years of fully funded educational opportunities. This mayor has lost the confidence of teachers, public school parents, and advocates across Nashville, and they will see right through his ploy to try and buy their votes with Metro’s credit card.

“These desperate acts by a desperate politician trying to get reelected will ultimately cost our city and taxpayers more money. We’ve seen numerous eleventh-hour policy proposals out of the mayor’s office over the last six months, designed to appease specific constituencies rather than create real, substantive change. Nashville deserves a mayor who will partner with all stakeholders, engage the community, and make the tough decisions necessary to move our city forward in a substantive manner. Under no circumstances should teachers and Nashville residents be used as pawns for a failing reelection campaign.”

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

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Nashville Pride

‘State of Black Nashville’ forum held at Cathedral of Praise

NASHVILLE PRIDE — The community gathered for a public forum to speak on ‘the state of Black Nashville’ on June 27. Fox 17 on-air personality Harriet Wallace hosted the top mayoral candidate forum at Cathedral of Praise, 4300 Clarksville Pike. The event was sponsored by Pumps and Politics radio show where Wallace is also the host.

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Mayor David Briley speaking at The State of Black Nashville forum held at Cathedral of Praise. Briley is joined on stage by his opponents, (l-r) Councilman John Cooper, Representative John Ray Clemmons, and Dr. Carol Swain.

By Wanda Clay

The community gathered for a public forum to speak on ‘the state of Black Nashville’ on June 27. Fox 17 on-air personality Harriet Wallace hosted the top mayoral candidate forum at Cathedral of Praise, 4300 Clarksville Pike. The event was sponsored by Pumps and Politics radio show where Wallace is also the host.

Participating in the forum was current Mayor David Briley and challengers State Rep. John Clemmons, Metro Councilman John Cooper and retired Vanderbilt professor, Dr. Carol Swain.

Wallace said this forum would be candid and necessary because “Every election sees candidates courting the African American vote and several people have approached me, frustrated with what they see as racial disparity in Nashville. They wanted to know how they can learn the future of Black Nashville and how to hold the next mayor accountable.”

The forum began with a recorded presentation of each candidate.

“The meeting was really about North Nashville and it’s priorities and concerns,” said one attendee. “It was a good forum, with the questions speaking to the heart of the African American community. Of particular note was the ‘yes or no’ question about whether or not the candidate would fire the police chief.”

The first portion was the ‘Lightening Round,’ which was simply answers of ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

Each candidate answered questions regarding Nashville’s police force accurately reflecting the community served; the current climate of racial tension, the police department and Police Chief Anderson; developers and gentrification, including displacement; economic inequality; housing; the support of high end shopping; support for development of the Clarksville Highway area; support for the increase of the mayor’s appointments of leadership from the Black community; and other issues. However, the candidates found it quite difficult to give a simple ‘yes’ or a simple ‘no.’

Going into the second round, candidates had two minutes to answer. This round consisted of questions regarding 21 Metro schools on the high priority list, most being underfunded with a lack of resources in schools such as Maplewood, Alex Green, Antioch High, Haynes Middle School and others. Candidates were also asked how they intend to offer their support.

Again, questions were brought up regarding Police Chief Anderson and how each would work with him if he remains.

These questions also consisted of thoughts of low income, economic development, affordable housing and mixed income housing—particularly in Bordeaux, yet also in other areas and the entire county.

Several questions were then taken from people in the audience to be intended for a specified candidate with one minute to respond. Audience members asked questions regarding charter schools vs. public schools. Rev. Barbara Washington asked Clemmons: “There’s a wall—why graduates of TSU are not being employed by the city once they become alumni?” Clemmons agreed and mentioned the fact that the city is fortunate to have four prominent HBCUs in Nashville. All candidates gave their perspective on ‘the walls’ set up in business, education and ‘good old boy’ connections along with the lack of affordability to even live in the city following graduation.

Other issues in question included teacher compensation; not raising property taxes in order to raise teacher salaries; affordable housing; and the lack of an increase in wages so that one might afford what is already owned.

The questions ended (from a youth) with the candidate’s thoughts on how the current presidency has an effect on the future. All candidates were in agreement that the current presidency is creating division and causing citizens to say and do things they wouldn’t have beforehand.

“The only thing that can be done is greater voter participation,” said Clemmons.

The forum ended with a ‘call to action’ to the candidates, asking surveyed ‘yes or no’ questions from community members. Questions included concerned: candidates’ support of activities held in Black communities; holding city officials accountable to offer voter registration to the citizens they serve; encourage public transportation to provide free rides to polls on election day; work closely with Equity Alliance for board and commission appointments; work with coalition partners to produce transparent tech inclusion; commitment to quarterly city engagements with Black residents to keep them informed; and support Black stakeholders and other underfunded Black organizations.

The forum closed with two-minute closing remarks from each candidate.

Following the forum, Meekahl Davis said: “The candidates really went after Mayor Briley pretty hard in this debate, criticizing his budget, support for the police chief, and lack of affordable housing. Briley pushed back more forcefully on their criticisms-coming out stronger than I’ve ever seen him.”

“We have a very important decision before us beginning July 12,” said Wallace. “Please be sure you know your candidates and who you want to put in office and the difference between a public servant and a politician.”

Participating partners in this forum include: Tequila Johnson, co-founder of Equity Alliance; Keith Caldwell, president of the NAACP; Bobby Stockard, steering committee of the Haynes Trinity Coalition; Rev. James Turner II, president of IMF; Susan Vanderbilt, board chair of the Nashville Black Chamber; Veronica Clark first vice president of Programming Nashville Coalition of 100 Black Women of Middle Tennessee; Dr. Katherine Brown of the Katherine Brown Leadership Academy.

If you were unable to attend, visit the website of Pumps and Politics for the live stream of the event.

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

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Commentary

COMMENTARY: Questioning What is Considered Normal Behavior

NASHVILLE PRIDE — Civilized cultures, races, and classes have accepted expectations of what they consider normal or expected modes of acceptable behavior, which the masses should exhibit in a defined community. These behaviors are based on the studies and observances of established standards or usual practices of the populace in a given group or environment. Acceptable and expected behaviors are often defined and heralded by social scientists, psychologists and those who often benefit most from engineering human behavior.

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William T. Robinson, Jr

By William T. Robinson

Civilized cultures, races, and classes have accepted expectations of what they consider normal or expected modes of acceptable behavior, which the masses should exhibit in a defined community. These behaviors are based on the studies and observances of established standards or usual practices of the populace in a given group or environment. Acceptable and expected behaviors are often defined and heralded by social scientists, psychologists and those who often benefit most from engineering human behavior.

Anyone deviating from what is considered the accepted mode of behavior (including practices and modes of thinking) is considered atypical or abnormal. Adhering to normal and socially acceptable guidelines literally relegates us to a monolithic society that borders on ‘one size fits all.’ But in reality what is considered normal can be contentious when one manifests natural constraints deviating from the generally accepted populace. All too often, those not following what is considered normal are subjected to ridicule or penalized.

Often, what many people feel is normal for them is not considered normal by the accepted social establishment. There are genetic and environmental factors that often make what is established as normal dependent on the individual. Behaviors or actions that one may exhibit that are not harmful to themselves or the public can be different and contentious as well as atypical or abnormal to others—but not the person themselves.

We should take a closer look at defining or acknowledging what is considered normal in a multitude of circumstances, taking in the reality or experiences of affected individuals—simply saying that what is normal for you may not be normal for me. Therefore, don’t be so fast to impose your expectations of what you feel is right onto someone else based on what you have been taught as normal. In fact, what is considered normal varies depending on cultures, locations, and groups.

‘Normal’ is a word that for the most part, subconsciously promotes conformity. It colors those not going along with it as defiant and atypical. Resisting practices considered ‘normal’ sometimes relegates a person to being a maverick, troublemaker, or just plain defiant—even to being cast as a pariah.

We need to understand that normalcy is contingent on a person’s subjective behaviors and views rather than what is average, usual, and standard among a designated group. Not being considered normal isn’t always an insult or a reason to feel inadequate. Normal patterns adhered to by the masses can be misleading and erroneous. Being able to break from a group’s calculated perception of what is normal and define your own view based on self-analysis can promote self-empowerment.

The truth of the matter is that historically discriminate and inhumane treatment was commonplace and accepted as normal behavior by a segment of the population in the South. This abusive and inhumane treatment was even indoctrinated in laws that kept people of color disenfranchised or in subservient roles. What we perceive as normal can be open to interpretation and in some cases a violation of some peoples’ basic human rights.

What may be considered normal should always be up to interpretation and not always accepted as established behavior to be followed by all. Normalcy has been used at times as a constraint to justify treacherously insidious miscarriages of justice. Those defining normalcy are often in a position to control the actions of others, whether for good or bad.

Hopefully, we will arrive to a point where what is normal for one person or group is not always considered normal for everyone, and that it is acceptable and okay. Contrary to what some people think, normal is not a practice or view that is etched in stone and incontestably followed by all—even if you personally don’t feel or view something the way others do.

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride.

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Health

Whose lives matter? Our lives matter

NASHVILLE PRIDE — The red-state legislators who now seek to roll back reproductive rights say they are ‘pro-life.’ But I don’t ever hear them asking Black women about their lives. If they did, they would learn a thing or two. And they’d hear many of us express personal conflicts about abortion.

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Michaela Purdue Lovegood

 

By Michaela Purdue Lovegood

(TriceEdneyWire.com) — Twenty years ago, I was a director of youth programs for a subsidiary organization of the Chicago Housing Authority. I ran after-school, GED and job training programs for Black youth living in the city’s public housing.

In the three years that I ran these programs, there were four times when I supported young poor, Black women in their choice to get abortions. Two of those pregnancies were the results of rape. One was by a family member. Under the oppressive laws now being pushed through state legislatures, these procedures may become illegal.

I helped these young women because what was on the line for all of them was their dignity: they would lose or delay their ability to finish school. Two of these young women would be the first members of their families to go to college. I cared too much about their young lives, I could not allow that to happen.

These courageous young women had created bright futures for themselves and their families, overcoming extreme challenges of poverty, violence and exploitation. They all deserved the chance to succeed. Their communities deserved the pride that would come with knowing new possibilities existed for their children and the next generation.

The red-state legislators who now seek to roll back reproductive rights say they are ‘pro-life.’ But I don’t ever hear them asking Black women about their lives. If they did, they would learn a thing or two. And they’d hear many of us express personal conflicts about abortion.

I share these misgivings. But I also felt misgivings when, at 17, I was taught by the United States Army how to fire a M16 semi-automatic rifle, a M60 automatic rifle, an AT4 rocket launcher, how to throw grenades and how to construct and detonate Claymore mines.

At 17, I was too young to vote, but our government had no problem teaching me how to kill.

So many young people, especially poor youth, and Black, Brown and queer youth, are trained, even encouraged, to take lives in the name of the United States of America. I can now understand that what I was being asked to do is prepare myself to protect the interests of the wealthy—by killing, and by being ready to sacrifice my own life.

Right-wing legislators crow about protecting the ‘right to life.’ But the color and gender of that life affects its value in our society. What value do we place on a young Black woman’s future, or any girl or woman’s future? On her dignity, her potential, her self-confidence, and her reputation in her community? Lawmakers want to reach into our lives and bodies and choose for us.

That’s why so many of us are rattled by this wave of anti-abortion legislation. We are horrified that the root of this push to control our lives and bodies is to protect economic and political power for the few, who already have far more than they need.

Legislators have no authority over women’s bodies. Most of us know that. Many of us embody that. Now, as voters and activists, we are in a position where we can do something about it. We have to do something about it.

Whether or not you agree with abortion, no other person should have the right to determine what happens to your body or even to the life inside of your body against your will or agency.

(Michaela Purdue Lovegood is the field director and co-creator of the Political Healers program at People’s Action, a national network of grassroots groups. For more than 20 years, through training, organizing and healing justice, she has worked to eradicate racial, gender, and economic injustice, particularly as they impact women, people of color, trans and queer people, and young people.)

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

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