Tennessee is spiking really badly right now. An anti-mask governor and legislature have given the state 59,546 COVID cases– including 1,955 new cases on Friday, 1,460 new cases on Saturday– and a rapidly rising 8,933 cases per million Tennesseans. The governor, Bill Lee is a clueless Trump fanatic, still refuses to mandate masks and the Tennessee General Assembly… well, the state Senate has 5 Democrats and 28 Republicans and the state House has 26 Dems and 73 Republicans– obviously a full-fledged chapter of the Trump Death Cult.
They’re not worried about the pandemic overwhelming Tennessee hospitals; they’re worried about maintaining a memorial to savage mass murderer and KKK first Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest in the state capitol where they can all admire it everyday and be infused with its Fort Pillow Massacre inspiration.
A friend of mine in the legislature tells me they’re also plotting the next state gerrymander. With a very good chance that conservative Blue Dog (and proto-Republican) Jim Cooper is going to be defeated by Keeda Haynes, the “Fort Pillow Massacre” fans intend to eliminate TN-05 (basically the strongly blue city of Nashville and its suburbs) by dividing it up among several Republican districts– exactly what Tom DeLay did to Austin.
Why would they suddenly do this to Nashville? Look closely– Keeda is a woman; Keeda is progressive; Keeda is African American… and not likely to celebrate the “Fort Pillow Massacre” with them… or wink and look the other way as some conservative Southern Democrats do.
“I believe that those of us that are closest to the problem are closest to the solution,” Keeda told me recently. “I understand and have personal experience with a lot of these issues that we are now demanding be changed in the criminal justice system. Experiencing and seeing these disparities first hand, I personally wrote Jim Cooper a letter regarding the various issues and volunteered to work with him and other members of Congress to address these issues. He met with me but did nothing about these issues. That was over 4 years ago, when he had the opportunity to be on the forefront of criminal justice reform and to fight for our community and our issues and not when it became ‘popular’ to do so. Nashville deserves better than this. We need a leader who understands the issues the community is facing and will actually lead when it comes to those issues.“
As a former public defender, Keeda has fought against all of these racist laws, policies and procedures in the criminal justice system from the wealth based detention– known as money bail– to sentencing laws that disproportionately impact black and brown communities.
She told that when police officers strip searched her client on the side of the road, when they kicked her client in the face and lied about it; when they profiled her Black and Hispanic clients just to make traffic stops, she filed grievances and complaints against police offers to ensure police accountability, and she has advocated with the community and voted for the police oversight board in Nashville. Fighting systemic racism isn’t new to Keeda. For her this is personal. “Accountability and Justice,” she has been saying for a very long time, “are long overdue.”
Here’s what she said Saturday:
None of us can deny that a shift is happening in our country right now. And to move our country and the conversations forward, we need someone who has always been fighting to dismantle systemic racism in every area and that brings passion and determination to that fight. To see the change that we want to see, we must acknowledge that our current leadership, as nice and as respected as he may be, doesn’t fit this moment and can’t help move our community and country forward.
For the past 57 years in this district, we have been represented by 5 wealthy white men… Richard Fulton, Clifford Allen, Bill Boner, Bob Clement to our current representative Jim Cooper, who has been in this seat since 2003. This can no longer work for us. This election allows us the opportunity to actually have someone that is more representative of who we in this district, someone that will actually be a leader and passionately fight for our issues and that will make sure that our voices are heard and that we have a seat at the table.
It is time that we had a Black person representing us in this district, it is time that we had a female U.S. Representative from the state of TN and it is time that we had someone elected to Congress with a felony on their record.
It is time for change and I am that change.
There are a lot of reasons to support Keeda– the issues she’s running on; her strength of character; to combat systemic racism; to combat gerrymandering– and believe me, if the Fort Pillow Massacre legislature tries getting rid of her, this will be a case that will wind up in the Supreme Court.
Please, if you can, consider turning that support into a financial contribution. Early voting is just getting started in Tennessee and she has a lot of ground to cover when it comes to getting her message out.
The Blue America “Primary A Blue Dog” thermometer on the right will take you to a page where if you want to, you can make a contribution for change.
Thanks for always doing what you can to make a better world,
Howie, for the entire Blue America team