By Ashley Benkarski
NASHVILLE, TN — William D. Mason, Jr., president of The Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Action Network (MTNAN) spoke about his Chapter’s mission, issues affecting the region and what they can do to inform, unite and empower residents.
“The worst thing a person can feel is voiceless,” he said. That’s where his organization steps in.
For example, Middle Tennesseans are being forced out of their homes and sometimes the state due to predatory real estate investment practices like gouging prices in a sellers’ market. “This is hurting families, “ Pres. Mason said.
“Our organization will help people find the resources they need,” he stated. “We are a civil rights organization dedicated to fight for one standard of justice, decency, and equal opportunities for all people.”
MTNAN will hold candidate forums, various workshops and more for the Middle Tennessee area, including “legal night” clinics to make sure people know their rights, help navigate complex legal issues and provide record expungements.
MTNAN will host a community resource fair from 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. at Pruitt Library June 4 and a candidate forum for Antioch voters on the same day beginning at 10 a.m. at Lakeshore Christian Church.
Pres. Mason lamented the state of education for Tennessee’s youth, noting cuts to education funding show a gross mismanagement of priorities.
The stark reality of the status quo crystallizes when factoring in the rising number of youths experiencing depression, anxiety and other mental health issues; ignoring that can exact a heavy toll on society.
“There’s no telling what this is going to mean for us years down the line,” Pres. Mason said of the worsening crisis.
Much of our societal success depends on our youth and as a teacher, youth sports coach and youth minister, Pres. Mason has an intense passion for education. “It’s very important to value education. We all need something to guide us through to be more successful,” he said.
That doesn’t have to mean a four-year college experience, he said, noting that having an Associate’s degree opens more opportunities than a high school diploma. Two-year community college tuition is free, and trade schools offer valuable skills in industries that typically pay well, he added.
Pres. Mason is a native Nashvillian and an alum of Fisk University and Tennessee State University. He teaches special education in the Metropolitan Nashville Public School system and is a member and youth minister at Temple Church.
MTNAN Chapter members are prepared to “help us move this envelope forward … for civil rights and standing up for equal justice for all people,” he said.
Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, the National Action Network has more than 100 chapters nationally.
For more information on NAN and its Middle Tennessee and Nashville chapters, visit the Chapters portal on the National Action Network website (nationalactionnetwork.net).