Nashville Organizers Want Black People To Be A Powerful Political Collective Inspired by Georgia turning blue and Jackson, Mississippi's People's Assembly, Nashville organizers want the city to become another political hotspot.

Nashville Organizers Want Black People To Be A Powerful Political Collective

Nashville Organizers Want Black People To Be A Powerful Political Collective

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Mike Floss spins music at a Black Nashville Assembly meeting. The group is trying to organize people to be more engaged politically. Courtesy LeXander BRYANT/Black Nashville Assembly hide caption

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Courtesy LeXander BRYANT/Black Nashville Assembly

Mike Floss spins music at a Black Nashville Assembly meeting. The group is trying to organize people to be more engaged politically.

Courtesy LeXander BRYANT/Black Nashville Assembly

Some organizers in Nashville, Tenn., are working to strengthen local Black political power.

Last summer, the city's majority Democratic council rejected more than seven hours of pleas to decrease police funding.

"Every politician in Nashville is supposedly progressive yet we have a hard time getting our points of view even heard," organizer Theeda Murphy says.

The Black Nashville Assembly wants to create an agenda that ensures the government doesn't create barriers for Black people's progress. They're riding a momentum sparked by Georgia flipping blue and using a legacy of strategies from people-driven movements.

Back in October, the assembly met virtually and had a schedule packed with vibrant performances and discussions that reimagined democracy.

"Everybody just giving their opinions from different point of views and that was being respected because we all Black," Nashville native and Middle Tennessee State University senior Darrell Green says. "But we were all coming from different communities within Nashville."

The Assembly is in the early stages, but it has already said public safety, housing and education are its top priorities.

After that, it will push for residents to play a larger role in the city's budget process.

Green says he's happy that the city is redeveloping but feels some Black residents don't always benefit. "I want this place to be somewhere where black people are heard. Black people are respected," he says.

Organizers are doing social media campaigns and neighborhood canvassing to find residents who aren't engaged with the local government.

While attendees share their frustrations about city leaders, organizers such as Murphy try to connect the dots about why radical changes are necessary to eradicate systemic racism.

"Given that most of us who are doing this organizing have a level of privilege, if we're engaging people who don't, we can't speak for them," Murphy says.

Black Nashville Assembly organizers and members agree on the core problems but they have different opinions on solutions.

For example, Murphy believes police departments and prisons should be abolished. Newer members aren't sold on the idea.

"The thing we do agree on is that the way policing is being handled right now does not work and it harms us," Murphy says.

Murphy and other organizers say electing a candidate with their agenda will get them closer to their goal.

They're looking to Jackson, Mississippi's People Assemblies, which helped Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba get elected and pressured the city to resolve a sewage leak.

Their sights are also on organizers in Georgia, such as Southerners On New Ground, who helped turn the Republican stronghold blue.

"Let's invite people in the movement because what we know is that the work doesn't stop after Election Day," Nashville Assembly organizer Erica Perry says.

Some scholars say people-driven movements like the Black Nashville Assembly dates to slavery. In 1830 in Philadelphia, free Black people got together for the National Negro Convention Movement to work on emancipation and civil rights issues.

Southern organizers have built on this model from the 1965 Voting Rights Act to flipping Georgia blue.