Photo courtesy of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, a non-profit organization based in Nashville, has created the Nashville Unites Resolution in an attempt to unify Tennessee residents against bigotry in the aftermath of the recent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.
CFMT assists in various charitable needs through donations and the investment of grants made in 43 counties that are served in Middle Tennessee and parts of Kentucky. CFMT currently invests grants in hundreds of nonprofits and promotes information regarding the nonprofits and their functions on the CFMT website. CFMT is responsible for the founding of NowPlayingNashville, a non-profit website that promotes tourism and economic development in the Middle Tennessee area and GivingMatters.com, which allows users to find and learn about more than 1,500 local non-profits.
“For more than 25 years, The Community Foundation has served as a leader in philanthropy,” said Ellen Lehman, the president of CFMT. “We bring good people and good causes together. One of the hallmarks of good people and good causes is an inclusive spirit, of working together to achieve common goals. To ensure excellent stewardship of lasting charitable funds and to support nonprofits that are doing great work that matters in their communities, there’s no room for racial intolerance or hate.”
After the violence and acts of hate that occurred in Charlottesville, Lehman stated that the resolution is a way to display the community’s willingness to accept those that others may turn away and to unite Nashville towards a common goal of peace and tolerance.
“This resolution is affirmation of the way our community has welcomed people and embraced their similarities as well as their differences,” Lehman said. “It is a testament to our strength when we work together, just as our individual and collective response to the 2010 flood was. Nothing we have said here is new. We are Nashville.”
The number of extremist and hate groups nationwide rose to 917 in 2016 from the 892 groups that were identified in 2015, according to an annual report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which actively monitors hate crimes throughout the country. The report also displays that, in Tennessee, there were 38 identified active hate groups in 2016, including six chapters of identified hate groups in Nashville.
Lehman has encouraged anyone who is able to visit the CFMT website and sign the resolution. Eventually, CFMT plans to take out a full page ad in The Tennessean, which will contain a short writing that is representative of the message CFMT wishes to send and a list of all the people who decided to sign the resolution.
The writing that will be placed in the ad reads, “Whether you arrived here decades ago or just yesterday, you stayed because there is something unique here that unites us, and has made this the vibrant, welcoming, and growing city it is today. We are a city with a generous spirit and an open door. In our best moments, we embrace openness, honesty and a deep, collective desire to strengthen the community we share.
“We are a city that is powerful beyond measure when we think and act together; no matter what we believe, where we come from, or what our differences might be. And together we stand today to say there is no room here for the kind of bigotry, hatred and violence we saw in Virginia.
“Today, we must be catalysts for unity. We resolve that if fate leads someone to Nashville, we will embrace them as our own. We resolve that if someone speaks ill of our neighbors, we will remind them that is not our way. We resolve to challenge ill-informed or hateful speech before it becomes reality. We resolve that where there is conflict, we will settle it peacefully. No matter what the rest of the world may say or do, let us remember one thing: We are Nashville. Please join us. Be part of the solution.”
According to Lehman, the choice to place the writing and signatures in a newspaper ad is a perfect fit.
“We have chosen the medium of a newspaper because newspapers and free press are cornerstones of our democracy and of the free speech protected by the First Amendment in our Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution,” Lehman said. “There remains no better way to make a public statement than to publish it, with your name attached, in a community’s primary, general-interest newspaper.”
Lehman explained that the Nashville Unites Resolution is also a product of the Nashville Unites component fund, which was founded in 2014 by Bishop Joseph Walker and the late Francis S. Guess.
“(Nashville Unites) is an effort to assure Nashville is prepared to respond to some of the racial, socioeconomic and neighborhood issues that have affected other cities recently, by emphasizing civic responsibility, dialogue and participation,” Lehman said. “Its overarching goal is to make sure that the lines of communication are open and remain open in times of disagreement, intolerance, bigotry, hatred and violence within and among different pockets of our diverse and growing community, just as those lines of communication remain open in times of collective success.”
All those interested in learning more about or signing the Nashville Unites Resolution can visit here.
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