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MTSU scholars contribute to newly published State of Blacks in Middle Tennessee

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“The State of Blacks in Middle Tennessee,” a new comprehensive report by two MTSU scholars and other experts, suggests that life for African Americans in the region is still separate and unequal in 2010.

Published by The Urban League of Middle Tennessee in December 2010 as part of a partnership with The Urban EpiCenter and the Center for Community Change, the report breaks its assessments into the categories of community and faith; children, youth and education; economic recovery, jobs and housing; politics, voting and citizenship; race, environment and health; and higher education and university-community relations.

“The taxonomy of contemporary racism (overt racism, institutional racism, racial disparity, racial polarization, racial steering, the black-white achievement gap) is as pervasive in the 21st century as it was in the 1960s,” writes the report’s editor, Dr. Sekou Franklin, associate professor of political science at MTSU, in the preface.

However, Franklin also penned, “Despite this phenomenon, those reading this report will be encouraged by the authors’ varied recommendations for addressing the crises affecting blacks in middle Tennessee.”

In addition to editing the publication, Franklin authored two articles, “Driving Toward Poverty: African Immigrant Taxi Cab Drivers in the Athens of the South” and “Racially Polarized Voting in Nashville’s 2007 Mayoral Election.” His colleague, Dr. Moses Tesi, an MTSU political science professor, authored “Africans in Middle Tennessee.”

“I think it offers a great perspective from not only academics but people directly affected,” Patricia Parrish Stokes, president and CEO of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee, said. “I invite everyone to take the time to review the report and comment. We want this to lead to a meaningful dialogue not only about the issues but about the strategies to deal with the issues. That is our hope moving forward.”

Each section includes a “Letter to Nashville,” an essay about race and the quality of life in middle Tennessee. There is also a section titled “A Different Look,” which examines race and socioeconomic conditions in Nashville.

Topics featured in “The State of Blacks in Middle Tennessee” include the black church, African-American Muslims, residential segregation, blacks in Clarksville, the black middle class and the Geier consent decree to desegregate higher education.

For more information, contact the Urban League of Middle Tennessee at 615-254-0525, or download the full report at www.ulmt.org.

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