By Rosetta Miller Perry
The City of Nashville recently commissioned yet another Workforce Diversity Strategic plan this time in Chicago, which means once more thousands of tax dollars are going out to examine an obvious simple problem to correct. Every time a new Mayor is elected they promise to address the issues of inequity and inclusion for Blacks in Nashville’s city government. But it never seems to change, something that is very disturbing considering the rhetoric of this administration during the campaign.
Inclusion historically means to hire a few blacks who supported a successful candidate, give them the same title that has been passed down for years and place them in a non private office (down those same stairs (Nashville has a thing about Black Folks going down some steps) that previous black political employees have used for years. To the best of our knowledge, these political employees supervise no one and the Black Community is not aware of what they do.
Giving out positions in government as a reward for support is borderline unethical, and also doesn’t remotely come close to really tackling the major problem: Blacks are denied access to positions of authority in Nashville, a disgrace that has occurred for decades. Far too many whites denigrate and downgrade Blacks no matter how many degrees they have earned or the qualifications they possess in this city.
Our wonderful former Mayor Dean talked about keeping college graduates in Nashville, a commendable goal. One thing he forgot, the city has racist employment policies for African Americans so only the white college graduates are hired in Nashville while Black college graduates must seek employment elsewhere. This city has a long and disgraceful track record of ignoring Blacks, and in particular refusing to hire Black males in any true positions of power and if one more white person mentions to me they would hire a “qualified” black person, then they better tell me how the h… they’re hiring all of these unqualified whites. They never say we will hire a qualified white person – so Nashville needs to get that of of it racist vocabulary as they read this editorial.
It is a disgrace that Blacks college graduates have to leave this city and go Chicago to get a chance at a lifetime city job or to Memphis. You have some white college graduates with lesser qualifications with good jobs because their daddy or cousin, etc., work for the city. I have studied this for years as publisher of the Tribune and I am sick sick of it and also sick of the excuses the city uses to justify it. The city has spent enough money on diversity studies to set up a diversity division and hire only black folks starting at $100,000 year.
It is past time for Nashville to have a task force designed to ensure that the Black community get its fair share of the contracts and monies and jobs pouring into “it” city before it becomes ….. city. We can no longer depend on good faith promises from white politicians who vanish after election day. As the former Director of the United Equal Employment Commission (retired) I would gladly lead such a commission to be certain Blacks and Latinos are not being shut out of these opportunities and hired on all levels in the city government until we reach 30%.
It is also time to put a Black person with some backbone and community awareness in the administration not a yes person collecting a paycheck every 2 weeks. Why pay a black $100,000, announce to the community they have this high level position and when the Tribune calls for information this $100,000 black person is not permitted to respond but sends the call to a white male supervisor? That is how the Tribune has been treated. Frankly, I don’t like it, the next time I will personally visit the African American allegedly in charge. The city should stop hiring blacks as window dressing and those blacks must stop accepting token positions because they are living the life of a liar. That is baffling and insulting to the authentic Black community.
To the City, Black History Lesson 101: The Tribune challenges the city to stop the patronage and nepotism, and end racist hiring practices NOW without spending thousands of dollars on another diversity study. 111 years ago (1906), The Nashville Globe, a black-owned and operated publication was launched. Richard Henry Boyd (Dr. T.B. Boyd III, a prominent Nashvillain, is a descendant) was the primary architect of the Globe and was a former slave from Texas. After teaching himself to read and write, Boyd attended Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, and spent several years organizing churches and Baptist organizations for freedmen. In 1896, Boyd moved to Nashville and founded the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB) and in 1904 the One-Cent Savings Bank. The following year, when the city made it mandatory for all streetcars to be segregated by race, Boyd, along with his son Henry A. Boyd, Dock A. Hart, Charles A. Burrell, and Evans Tyree, formed the Globe Publishing Company. Its purpose was to publish a newspaper to promote a boycott of the city’s streetcars and to combat racial discrimination and social inequalities. The first issue of the Nashville Globe was published in January 1906.
The Republican weekly was published on Fridays at the NBPB’s facilities. Henry A. Boyd and Joseph O. Battle oversaw the editorial content, which focused on dispelling false assumptions perpetuated about African Americans by white mainstream newspapers, speaking out against racial segregation and injustice, and promoting self-help literature and middle-class deportment within the black community. The Globe’s editors specifically encouraged readers to purchase homes and to support locally black-owned businesses, many of which advertised in the paper. H.A. Boyd also used the Globe to promote education for African Americans, and in 1909 he wrote several editorials campaigning for a state college for blacks.He joined forces with other influential business leaders, and their passionate plea culminated in the creation of the first and only state-funded black university in Tennessee: the Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School, established in Nashville in 1912. The college became a university in the 1950s, was later renamed Tennessee State University, and is still going strong today.
In its first decade, the Globe’s readership reportedly reached one-fifth of Nashville’s total population. In April 1917, in order to keep up with increasing demands at the publishing company, the NBPB purchased two new Mergenthaler Linotype machines. The machines cost $5,000, but were considered necessary for the continued growth of the publishing company. The April 27 front page carried photographs of the new machines and announced that, “These are the first and most improved machines of this make to be installed in a Negro printing establishment, and it puts the National Baptist Publishing Board miles in front of any Negro establishment and places them on par with the most improved printing offices of the United States.”
The Globe was a strong supporter of African American troops in World War I. The paper supported fundraising campaigns for African American soldiers and carried government advertisements for Liberty Bonds. From November 1917, the masthead bore a message urging readers to place a 1-cent stamp on the paper when they had finished reading it, hand it to any U.S. postal employee, “and it will be placed in the hands of our soldiers or sailors on the front.” On December 6, 1918, a special Victory Edition was published. The 16-page special aimed to give “the working men who are seeking employment in the city, an idea of what Nashville really is and […] introduce to the manufacturers, wholesale and other commercial interest the real laboring man who is seeking employment […].” The special edition also celebrated African Americans’ contributions to the Great War.
After R.H. Boyd’s death in 1922, Henry A. Boyd took control of operations at the NBPB. In the 1930s, the Globe merged with the Nashville Independent to form the Nashville Globe and Independent. When Henry A. Boyd died in 1959, the Globe and Independent remained in print for only a few more months and ceased publication the following year.
Provided by: University of Tennessee Black Globe or the original Tribune that show rampant discrimination in hiring and in positions of power in the City.
Mayor Barry, we worked and campaigned for you thinking you truly wanted to make a difference. We know you aren’t interested in a Donald Trump-type racist environment in Nashville. Certainly you don’t want people to look back to your time in office and say that the first woman mayor in Nashville history presided over an era where big companies came in and got all kinds of tax breaks, while the poor were ignored, racial discrimination became worse, and the face of the city became less diverse.
We as a community want and demand our fair share. We are close to 30 percent of the population and still growing. It is only just and right that we get 30% of the city expenditures, projects, expansion and employment opportunities on supervisory levels.
The Tribune remains a supporter, but we cannot and will not sit in silence and see the Trump-vision become a Nashville reality. We are not angry or mad at you Mayor Barry. But we are deeply concerned about the future and whether you intend to fulfill the potential and promises of your campaign.
We will not let Nashville repeat its ugly history beginning in 1906.
And Peace Be With You.