On Monday evening, more than 200 Nashvillians, including over 30 elected officials gathered together for the Metro Council’s Annual Minority Caucus Reception. The keynote speaker, Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba addressed the audience in the Ayers Conference room at Belmont University.
Councilwoman Sharon Hurt offered a warm welcome to members of the public and elected officials alike, while applauding the recent election of Nashville’s most diverse Council to-date. This year, the Council reached a fair and perfect balance; exactly half of the Council’s 40 members are women. Hurt also acknowledged the historic election of the city’s first-ever Latina and Muslim Councilmembers, Sandra Sepulveda, and Zulfat Suara. Hurt asserted that establishing a focused minority agenda will be a necessary step in order for Nashville to become the “Model City,” it is postured to be.
Mayor Lumumba, known for his “radical” reputation, took to the podium to address important issues, such as the growing economic disparities impacting major cities across the nation, including Nashville and Jackson. The Mayor pointed out the need for people to recognize that, “There’s a community in Detroit, Michigan, in Gary, Indiana, in New Orleans, Louisiana, that looks just like yours,” as he stressed the importance of building cross-country connections between communities. He also expressed that the pursuit of economic justice begins with gaining power over the decision-making processes that ends up influencing everything from school curriculums and road work, to economic development.
Lumumba ran for office on the platform “When I become Mayor, You become Mayor,” and is a firm believer in self-governance and self-determination. His retelling of events occurring in Mississippi reflects local happenings in our own city. In Jackson, some communities have missed out on the revenue entertainment and dining amenities often bring to cities and towns, as a result of poor economic development. Similarly, Nashville’s economic boom hasn’t benefited all parts of the city. Some districts have been completely left out of the recent explosion of economic development.
Following the Jackson Mayor’s powerful words directed towards Nashville’s leaders and community members, former Councilmembers Ludye Wallace and Jerry L. Maynard II were recognized for their long running commitment to serving the people of Nashville.
Lumumba’s vision for his own city is one that champions “economic dignity,” and makes room for opportunity for all people. As Nashville continues to grow, incorporating these ideals will become essential to achieving equitable economic growth.