April Newsletter

Before sharing some news on the justice front please accept our warmest wishes to you and those you love for peace, health, and happiness. Happy Passover!! Chag Sameach.

Living Wage/Poverty Reduction

This past weekend A VOICE for the Reduction of Poverty held its Nashville Rising Forum. NJSJR was one of the co-sponsors. During the Forum speakers helped explain the landscape for those who work here but are not yet able to share in the economic rise Nashville has been experiencing. The Forum also addressed best practices taking place and presented a number of recommendations that would lead to improved conditions for those who have less. Because there was so much ground covered and a need to continue the conversation, a second session is planned for Tuesday, April 23, at the Martha O’Bryan Center on from 6:00 – 7:30. The goal of this convening is to gather business leaders, elected officials, community groups, concerned citizens, and local public and nonprofit sector agencies to develop recommendations and a moral/economic covenant that will lead to improving the quality of life for all Nashville residents through a livable wage. We hope you will mark this event on your calendars and will join this continued but needed conversation.

Implementation of New Disciplinary Policies in Metro Schools

NOAH’s (Nashville Organized for Action and Hope) Criminal Justice Reform Task Force will host a screening of the compelling documentary “Resilience: The Biology of Stress & The Science of Hope” directed by James Redford. The film demonstrates why it is important that the upcoming MNPS budget retain support for Student Care Centers in 12 high priority elementary schools. These centers allow children who are experiencing trauma and stress in their lives, which often leads to behavior issues, to interact with a caring teacher who can take the time to help them regulate their behavior and reduce stress through restorative interventions. Teachers also create student accountability measures that allow harm to be repaired and provide successful re-integration into the school community. The film will be followed by a panel discussion with principals and MNPS leaders currently working with students and these practices. The screening will be this Thursday, April 11, 6-8:00pm, at Clark Memorial United Methodist Church, 1014 14th Avenue North, 37208.

Getting the Progressive Message to Rural Voters

The NJSJR March 31 forum, “Do We Sometimes Feel Like Strangers in our Own Land” gave attendees a look into the struggle progressive candidates face to win votes in the counties surrounding Davidson. The firsthand information came straight from candidates who ran for office in November.

In their campaigns, Angela Hedgecough, Wade Munday, Holly McCall and Justin Kanew tried to appeal to voters’ self-interest on health care, employment and other issues. In many cases voters agreed with them in principle, but still voted 70-30 percent for Republicans. Yet, the speakers noted that it was the first time in a long time that progressive candidates ran for office in these counties … and it won’t be the last.

A new thrust will be getting new voters to understand the importance of registering and actually voting. For many in rural and poor communities, just getting to the polls is an issue. Without cars or public transportation, it is difficult. Also, people in these communities feel that government and politicians have not done anything for them, so why vote?

Bottom line: progressive candidates will need help and resources in convincing rural residents that their interests and well-being are the progressive agenda.

YWCA STAND Against Racism

On April 25th, the YWCA will hold its annual STAND Against Racism from 12:00-1:00pm at Public Square Park outside of the Historic Metro Courthouse. Speakers include Davidson County Chief Public Defender Martesha Johnson, MNPS Community Achieves Site Manager at Whitsitt Elementary Chris Echegaray, and Program Coordinator at American Muslim Advisory Council Sabina Mohyuddin. This annual event attracts a broad swath of our community in a strong communal statement against racism. This is yet another worthwhile event that warrants our Roundtable support. Many of us will be in attendance.

Help Preserve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The Administration is on the verge of making an end run around Congress again, attempting to slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) without congressional approval. The latest effort is a proposed rule that cut benefits by restricting SNAP eligibility by limiting states’ flexibility to help jobless or underemployed workers in struggling regions. This proposed rule is bad policy. By the Administration’s own estimate, enacting this rule would substantially increase hunger and hardship, stripping at least 755,000 Americans of food assistance—though other estimates suggest it could be more than 1 million. Furthermore, by cutting SNAP by $15 billion, the Administration would also be slashing more than 178,000 jobs over the coming decade. Making people hungrier will not help them find work any faster; it will only kick underemployed and unemployed workers when they are down. You can register your voice of opposition at https://handsoffsnap.org/. By law, every comment submitted has to be considered.

Oppose Cuts to TennCare

The Tennessee Justice Center is asking us to call on Gov. Lee to oppose drastic cuts to children’s healthcare in Tennessee. New proposed legislation will cut years of gains in helping cover health insurance for thousands of uninsured children. 30,000 children have already been removed from TennCare in the past year and we need to prevent this from happening to more. You can register your voice here.

Federal Effort to Repeal the Muslim/ Refugee Ban

A new bill—the NO BAN Act— will soon to be introduced by Senator Chris Coons and Congresswoman Judy Chu that would not just repeal the President’s Muslim, asylum, and refugees bans—it would limit the ability for the Administration or any post-Trump administration to do something like it ever again. We can lend our voice of support by signing the petition linked here.

Davidson County Election Commission Acts to Protect Voting Integrity

And some good news … the Davidson County Election Commission approved new voting machine purchases. Beginning with the August election, we will have new voting machines that have a paper trail that will give voters confidence in how they are voting or rather how their vote is being recorded. Other Election Commissions around the state are purchasing new voting machines as well. It is highly likely that the majority of new purchases will have a voter verified paper trail as well.