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TN Group Heads to State Capitol for 'Day On The Hill'

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Friday, March 17, 2023   

Advocates and leaders are headed to the state capitol next week to voice their concerns over issues affecting Black communities in Tennessee.

The Equity Alliance wants lawmakers to know their human rights are in jeopardy. Seventeen percent of Tennessee's population is African-American and the group says their civil rights are under attack.

Alliance CEO Tequila Johnson said Black Tennesseans, LGBTQIA people and immigrants are being targeted when it comes to education policies, the makeup of the Nashville Metro Council... even drag show laws.

"Our Day on the Hill is our way of bringing everyday Tennessee as most of whom have never stepped foot in the state capitol, to the state capitol because we do believe that is the people's house," said Johnson. "And then the second thing is for them to hear from legislators and lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, we want people to be able to decide how they want to be governed and by whom."

Johnson said The Equity Alliance is also working to be sure people making laws in Tennessee, which are increasingly affecting more Black people, are face-to-face with their constituents impacted by the legislation.

Johnson said people statewide are concerned about what she calls an attack on public education, which heavily effects black and brown students in all parts of Tennessee.

She offered as evidence a 2021 law that requires schools to hold back third graders who don't pass the Tennessee Ready Reading Test, calling it 'extremely unfair and racially biased'.

"They are using the TCAP which there's tons of research that shows that standardized testing is biased culturally," said Johnson. "And it does not effectively measure a student's ability to read or whatever it is that they're testing them on. Standardized testing just measures of student's ability to take a test."

Johnson says the group's April 20 Town Hall meeting will focus on legalizing marijuana. The Equity Alliance is inviting experts and legislators to talk about what that might look like in Tennessee.




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House Bill passed with an overwhelming vote of 94-6, with three abstentions. Its companion, Senate Bill 159, passed unanimously with a vote of 34-0. (Chad Robertson/Adobe Stock)

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