Ohio Valley and Southern States Region

A great article about one of our organizers and AAC members in the OVSSR Region…Ashford Hughes – Southeast Laborers District Council

The Tennessean 

My interaction with Ashford Hughes began with a private message on Twitter.

I'd offered in a previous column to host anyone who wanted to visit The Tennessean's newsroom to contact me. Hughes sent me a lengthy, very clear Twitter message. I'm reprinting his note here nearly in whole, with a few minor edits for clarity.

"I subscribe to the Sunday edition because it has the most content and coupons. I would subscribe to the entire week if the following occurred: IMO, there needs to be more authentic younger voices writing. Especially from communities of color. .... (There's) not enough perspective from Black Nashville's new voices of leadership. We need more space for the under 40 crowd to contribute commentary. I would like to see more in-depth community perspectives, i.e, from Antioch, Madison, North Nashville, Green Hills, etc. ... I would pay to read more about local nonprofits helping shape Nashville. I would pay to read about the lives and experiences of local people and how that is shaping Nashville present and future."

Hughes works as an assistant business manager for the Laborers International Union of North America. He's also been very active in the Democratic party in the past.

His note got me excited, because he was asking for things that we are actively working on at The Tennessean. Increasing the diversity in our newsroom and in our pages; focusing more coverage on the issues affecting Nashville's neighborhoods; and putting many, many more community voices in the newspaper.

I must be honest: Finding a large pool of diverse talent to fill our newsroom and take on our new jobs has not been easy. I told Jacky Akbari that on Thursday, and she agreed she's heard the same. Akbari is the employer services director for Metro Government. We talked briefly: What can we do together to create a diverse workforce pipeline full of talent in Nashville?

Hughes came to visit me on Thursday, too, and we talked about his concerns. I explained why we're making the changes we are, the struggles we've having, and the vision we have to truly connect with our customers and impact and influence a better quality of life in Middle Tennessee. He got it, and he left me this note on Twitter:

"Thank you to @StefanieMurray for the invite, tour and communication @Tennessean today. Glad to see and hear the positive changes happening."

That invitation to visit The Tennessean is always open; email me and we'll set up a time to have you stop by.

Caucus Board Member, Community Allies and OH AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer participate in:

 “The State of the Black Worker in America” Conference at Georgetown University

Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor develops strategies and innovative public policy to improve workers’ lives in a changing economy. On October 10-11th, 2013 the Kalmanovitz Initiative along with the Black Labor Scholars Network and the Neighborhood Funders Group hosted a two day conference on “The State of the Black Worker in America”. The conference sought to initiate conversation about the place of black workers in the current economic downturn and the role they might play in its resolution. Panels included prominent scholars, media, labor leaders and community representatives from worker centers across the country. Panel discussions covered such topics as “How Did We Get Here? A Historical and Economic View of the State of the Black Economy and the Need to Organize Black Workers”, “Voices of Black Leaders on the State of the Movement”, “Meeting the Moment: Exciting Innovations in Black Organizing”; and “Ain’t I a Worker?: A Critical Look at Black Women, Organizing and Economic Justice”

Caucus board member Donna McDaniel Mitchell attended the conference representing the LIUNA AA Caucus and the LIUNA Minority Advancement Department. OVSSR community partners from the New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ) and the Mississippi NAACP were panel presenters. Petee Talley, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ohio AFL-CIO and volunteer Convener of the Ohio Unity Coalition, was also a panelist. LIUNA is engaging in discussions with NOWCRJ around building a coalition to fight for Community Benefits Agreements in the New Orleans area. In Ohio LIUNA continues to be very active in the AFL’s grassroots organizing and community non-partisan voter mobilization efforts across the state. The LIUNA AA Caucus is also a supporter of the Ohio Unity Coalition, a coalition of several labor, faith, civil and human rights organizations with a focus on civic engagement in African American communities across the state of Ohio. The lively discussions provided examples of successful models to follow and gave insight into the bigger picture of the need to build coalitions, especially in the Southern states to invigorate successful organizing.

Donna McDaniel Mitchell, Ed. D.

Local 265 members gather at LiUNA headquarters to participate in the MLK March on Washington, DC. They were strongly represented showing that the labor movement and the civil rights movement are often the same.

Donna McDaniel Mitchell, Breakfast Speaker for the TN State NAACP Conference, held in Nashville, TN September 19, 2014. The speech focused on our need to Get Out the Vote and fight for voting rights.