Thursday, June 29, 2006

English learning thrives in Middle Tennessee

The City Paper reported in this article last week that 25% of students learning English as a second language in Tennessee are in the Nashville school district.

"Metro Nashville Public Schools educates 25 percent of the ELL students in the state - the most of any other district."

"More than 5,000 of the school district’s 72,000 students are in the regular ELL program. Another 2,000 are in transitional phases totaling nearly 10 percent of total enrollment district-wide."

"In the 2005-06 school year, Metro Schools educated students from 83 countries who spoke 78 languages." (Nashville's linguistic diversity was featured in this story in June 2004.)

Statewide, the number of English learners in Tennessee schools was 2.1% in 2004, up from 1.4% in 2001 (story here). Hispanic students made up 3.2% of the student body state-wide.

Approximately 1,000 students per year are reclassified from English learning to English speaking in Nashville.

"'It’s amazing the progress we’re making with what we have,' [Metro Schools ELL director Susan] Howell said."

The success of Middle Tennessee's ELL programs was previously reported in this story in December 2005, and in this story in August 2004, in which Metro reported more than double the typical success rate of graduating students from the ELL program.

ESL and ELL classes are credited with improving classroom concentration in Nashville, because students who have language difficulties are no longer asking friends to interpret for them in class (story here). According to the same story, ESL and ELL teaching requires special teaching methods but not necessarily communication in the students' native languages.

While Nashville students who live in areas with low concentrations of English language learners are bused to their English classes, some remote areas beyond Nashville are starting their own classes instead of depending on larger neighboring cities. According to this article in the Tennessean, Fairview in Williamson County has started an English Language Learner summer school.

"Although Fairview is not known as a culturally diverse community, the class reveals great diversity with students speaking Chinese and Spanish, and one student who formerly lived in the Ukraine."

"According to the instructors, the students thrive in a more relaxed environment like summer school. The teachers even see a lot of the parents bonding, too."

In addition to language instruction, Fairview's ELL program incorporates social and cultural learning, which is a strategy supported by business groups like the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce (story here).

The City Paper's article last week also touched on the cost of English learning:

"Wednesday, [Governor Phil] Bredesen signed the state’s appropriations bill for the next fiscal year. While state legislators added $35 million for 'at-risk' and ELL students, only $2 million is earmarked for ELL."

In February 2005, Governor Bredesen promised an $11 million increase in spending for "at risk" and ELL students (story here). The City Paper article does not mention how the $35 million number relates to the promised $11 million increase, but it does give the current Nashville ELL budget: $14.5 million.

Middle Tennessee benefits from federal grants in some instances. The Fairview ELL summer school program is funded by a Title III grant. Two Middle Tennessee school systems benefit from funds awarded under the federal Emergency Immigrant Education Program (story here).

Some of the federal funding contributes to the integration of refugees such as the Somali students who replaced Latino children as the most visible minority at Cora Howe Elementary last September (story here).

Focus: Education

Vasquez family supporters issue press release

Supporters of the Vasquez family issued this press release in the wake of the murders of Juan and Thomas Vasquez (story here):


The Hispanic Organization for Progress and Education (HOPE), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), along with the Clarksville Korean American Association have joined the Clarksville – Montgomery County Community in support of slain civil rights activist, Juan Vasquez, Sr., and his son, Thomas Vasquez. Juan was the founder of H.O.P.E. and served as the Hispanic liaison for the Clarksville NAACP. Mr. Vasquez was an advocate for education for our Hispanic youth. He organized a protest march in support of our schools that helped convince County Commissioners to give more funding toward the school systems budget. Juan also was a driving force and advocate for the newly established Hispanic Cultural Center on the campus of Austin Peay State University. As vice chair for the Clarksville Human Relations Commission, Juan planned to introduce state legislation in support of rights and equality for all Hispanics regardless of legal status.

Juan could often be found attending the many events of his twin sons, Thomas and Matthew, his daughter Eva and recently celebrated the birth of his second grandchild from older son, Juan Jr. Thomas Vasquez graduate of Northwest High School, learned to play the drums at age four and went on to win many talent competitions as both an entertainer and member of the Northwest High School Viking band. Thomas’ other talents and hobbies include football, acting, baseball, basketball, music production, ballroom dancing and he was a seasoned veteran at customizing cars by the age of 15, a trade he learned while working side by side with his father. Thomas’ dream was to major in business and to some day open his own custom auto body shop.

The entire community sends their love and support out to the Vasquez family in their time of sorrow and have helped in establishing a Memorial Fund for Juan Julian Sr. & Thomas Vasquez at the U.S. Bank in the Fort Campbell Blvd. Wal-Mart. Funds to this account will help to defray the cost of funeral expenses and donations may be made at any of the many U.S. Bank locations.

On behalf of Clarksville H.O.P.E. and its President Pastor Tommy Vallejos, Clarksville NAACP President Mr. Jimmie Garland Sr. and Clarksville Korean American Association President Mr. Robert Brooks, we ask for your continued prayers for the Vasquez family and that you plan to attend the funeral services that will be held at the Immaculate Conception Church, Clarksville at a Date & Time to be announced soon.


Terry McMoore

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Suspect held in Vasquez homicides; services scheduled

The Leaf Chronicle reports in this article that a suspect has been taken into custody in Arkansas for the murders of Juan and Thomas Vasquez in Clarksville (stories here and here). The investigation has been moving smoothly enough that authorities believe an increase in the reward for information may be unnecessary.

In the article, friends and colleagues were urging the public to help the Vasquez family in its grief and financial stress resulting from the deaths. Immaculate Conception Catholic Church will host a viewing from 3 to 8pm Thursday, a prayer vigil at 8pm Thursday night, and funeral services at 11am Friday morning.

The Leaf-Chronicle has consistently reported that officials believe the crimes were not motivated by race or by the men's advocacy for civil rights.

Focus: Justice

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Plea for higher reward in Vasquez murder investigation

The Leaf Chronicle reports in this article that Terry McMoore and Tommy Vallejos of Clarksville are asking that the authorities offer a higher reward for information in the murder investigation of Juan Vasquez and his 18-year-old son Thomas Vasquez. The reward is currently set at $1,000.00.

McMoore worked with Juan Vasquez in the Clarksville NAACP, and Vallejos is a local pastor and the President of Hispanic Organization for Progress and Education ("HOPE"), which was founded by Juan Vasquez. The bonds that father and son forged in the Clarksville community are highlighted in this article in the Leaf-Chronicle:

"Terry and Wanda McMoore first met [Juan] Vasquez at a HOPE rally on the steps of the Montgomery County Courthouse. Wanda McMoore had known Thomas Vasquez for years, having met him when he and her daughter were in elementary school."

"'Juan and Thomas were beautiful people inside and out — especially on the inside,' she said. '(Thomas) was such a sweet kid — full of energy and always there to help his dad.'"

"Vasquez saw civil rights issues as affecting everyone — not only white people, black people or Hispanic people, Terry McMoore said."

"'Our issues are basically the same — they're human issues,' he said. 'Juan was like my eyes into the Hispanic community.'"

Juan and Thomas Vasquez were found murdered in Clarksville on Friday (story here). The crimes are still under investigation.

Photo of Juan Vasquez by the Leaf-Chronicle

Focus: Justice

"Wetback" movie at Watkins Thursday June 29

WetbackAccording to this event listing, Democracy for Nashville's Film Club Selection for June is "Wetback," to be shown Thurday, June 29, at 6:30pm at the Watkins Film School:

This month's DFA Film Club selection is the explosive documentary film, "Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary", from Ironweed Films.

"Wetback" explores the controversial issue of illegal immigration from a perspective that the public or the press rarely see - that of the immigrants themselves. Arturo Perez Torres' film documents the peril and plight of several illegal immigrants as they encounter thieves, corrupt border patrol officers, and other harrowing obstacles on their way to America. "Wetback" explores what it is that drives so many working poor South and Central Americans to come to the United States and how the American "Minutemen" group is preparing to thwart their arrival.

There will be a discussion panel after the film with an amazing lineup of local panelists (details tba).

This event is being co-sponsored by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) and Watkins Film School.

Admission for the event is $7. Students with valid ID are $5.

Focus: Entertainment
Focus: Justice

Nashville Star contestant Melanie Torres at Mercy Lounge Tuesday June 27

Melanie TorresAccording to this event listing, Melanie Torres from the 2006 season of Nashville Star will be performing in a benefit concert for the Lupus Foundation of America, Mid South Chapter. The concert is 7pm tomorrow (Tuesday) night, June 27, at Mercy Lounge:

Calling all country music fans, come out and enjoy a great night of music while supporting a great cause! Top contestants from USA Networks mega hit show Nashville Star will perform live in support of the fight against Lupus.

This year’s benefit concert for the Lupus Foundation of America, Mid-South Chapter (LFAM) will bring together the top talent from season 4 and will include performances by Casey Rivers, Matt Mason, Kristen McNamera, Melanie Torres, Jewels Hanson and Shy Blakeman. But that’s not all this great night has in store, don’t be surprised if you run into some past contestants out in support of LFAM!

Sherry Hammond, Executive Director of the Mid-South LFA Chapter, is thrilled to partner with these talented artist, “Lupus affects 1.5 million Americans and more than 100,000 new cases develop worldwide every year. This is a fantastic opportunity to increase public awareness for a disease that strikes mostly young women of childbearing years.”

Stars for Hope: A Benefit for the Lupus Foundation of America, Mid South Chapter will be held Tuesday, June 27, 2006 at Mercy Lounge in Nashville. The concert will begin at 7:30 pm. Tickets will be available for $10, at the door, and all proceeds from ticket sales will go directly to LFAM.

Focus: Entertainment

Weaponized immigration issue reaches gubernatorial race, as predicted

According to this article and this article in the City Paper, a GOP gubernatorial challenger to Democrat Phil Bredesen is apparently trying to "tune in to the animosity" about immigration, to borrow the words of local entertainment personality Steve Gill, who predicted in November 2005 that a Republican gubernatorial candidate would "hammer" Tennessee's incumbent governor by weaponizing the immigration issue in 2006 (story here).

A recap of this strategy beyond the governor's race was most recently published here.

Focus: Justice

Task force on Refugees and Immigrants meets today June 27

The Nashville Task Force on Refugees & Immigrants meets today, Tuesday June 27 at 2:00pm at 2200 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203-5204, United Methodist Church, Room 318. Free parking behind the building (map here). The task force meets on the last Tuesday of every month.

Today's agenda is as follows:

1. Ellen Zinkiewicz, Youth & Community Coordinator for the Nashville Career Advancement Center (NCAC), will present the new refugee target grant awarded to NCAC. 2. Mohammed Ibrahim, Co-Chair of the Task Force, will describe the new "Masters of Science in Public Service Management" (MSP) program at Cumberland University. Applications are being accepted now. 3. Avi Poster presents on the work of "Tennesseans Against Genocide" (TAG) as well as on a recent initiative by the Jewish Federation Community Relations Committee to establish a community education forum on immigration. 4. Nejib Adem provides an outline of his 2006 published book: "Easy Immigration: A Guide for Success." 5. Miguel Torres describes the misssion and work of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) Middle Tennessee Chapter. 6. Tatia Cummings teaches "Financial Literacy Classes" and will outline her curriculum. Classes are available at no cost for immigrants and refugees at SunTrust Bank. 7. Pastor Matt Puckett presents on the All Nations Mission. 8. Louisa Saratora, Program Coordinator at Catholic Charities, announces a refugee block party on July 9th. 9. Tahir Hussein from the Nashville Kurdish Forum announces the July 1st World Refugee Day Celebration. 10. The Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee (HCGT) and the Nashville Peace and Justice Center (NPJC) are holding a Forum on Immigration Reform, June 27th. 11. David Tiller announces the Small Business Administration's "Chamber in Action" event June 27th 5pm.

American Constitution Society holds immigration debate and discussion Tuesday July 27

ACSThe American Constitution Society will hold a debate and discussion about immigration on Tuesday, July 27, according to this announcement:

Nashville Lawyer Chapter, Vanderbilt University Law School
Start Time: Jun 27 2006 - 5:30pm
Event Description:
The Nashville Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society invites you to:

Immigration Policies & Politics: A Panel Discussion & Debate
Confirmed Speakers:

George Nolan, Member, Boult Cummings, Conners & Berry, PLC

Stephen Fotopulos, Policy Director, Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition

Yvette K. Sebelist, Immigration Attorney with Siskind Susser P.C.

5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Boult, Cummings, Conners & Berry, PLC
Roundabout Plaza, 1600 Division Street
Suite 700

You can park in the garage at no cost.

One CLE credit will be available for $1.

Please join us for refreshments at 5:30pm. The program will begin at 6pm. There is no charge for this event.

Please RSVP to by Monday, June 26.

Focus: Justice

Monday, June 26, 2006

Murdered: Clarksville civil rights leader Juan Vasquez and son Thomas

Leaf-Chronicle PhotoThe Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle reports in this article that Juan Vasquez and his son Thomas Vasquez were the victims of violent deaths in Montgomery County this weekend. A vigil last night highlighted Juan Vasquez's accomplishments as a civil rights leader and founder of Hispanic Organization for Progress and Education ("HOPE"). Vasquez's advocacy also included work with the NAACP Clarksville chapter and service as vice chairman of the Clarksville Human Relations Commission, according to this AP story on

Montgomery County and Clarksville police have ruled the deaths homicides and believe the victims knew the killers, but no motive has been determined and no suspects have been named.

The Vasquez murders come three months after a bloody march in Middle Tennessee, in which three Hispanic entrepreneurs were killed (story here).

Sentiments expressed at the vigil and recorded by the Leaf-Chronicle include this tribute:

"'Our light is shining now in honor of Juan and Thomas. This light here can not be pushed out by the darkness. Do not be afraid,' said Tommy Vallejos, local pastor and president of Hispanic Organization for Progress and Education. Vallejos said since Juan Vasquez started HOPE, the vigil was a reminder that he and his son were a shining light for all people."

"'(Juan's) vision for HOPE was to come together as a community. It didn't matter if we were black, white, Hispanic, Korean or (other races). We're not going to be divided. It's impossible to put this light out,' Vallejos said as the teary-eyed crowd held each other as they held their candles."

The Leaf-Chronicle article says that services will be held at McReynolds-Nave & Larson Funeral Home at a time to be announced. The sidebar also offers two opportunities to help:

"A memorial fund for Juan Vasquez and Thomas Vasquez has been established at U.S. Bank to help the family with funeral services and other costs. HOPE volunteers also will be set up at area Wal-Mart stores collecting donations for the Vasquez family."

"Anyone with information about the Vasquez's deaths should call the anonymous Clarksville Crime Stoppers tips line at (931) 645-TIPS."

Focus: Justice

Friday, June 23, 2006

WSJ editorial: weaponized immigration strategy divides Republicans; House left empty-handed (updated)

Unlike Senate and White House, House has no plan for millions who won't be deported

The Wall Street Journal published this editorial today about the status of immigration law reform:

"Most Congressional majorities campaign for re-election by touting their legislative achievements. Not this year. House Republicans have decided that the key to saving their majority is not to solve the immigration problem they've spent the last year building into a 'crisis.' Give them credit for novelty, if not for wisdom."

"House Republicans insist they can't vote for any bill that can be called an 'amnesty' for illegals, and that that's what the Senate and Mr. Bush want. But this is a box canyon of their own making. No serious person believes that the 11 million or so illegals already in America will be deported. Nor will these illegals come out of the shadows unless there is some kind of process that allows them to become legal and keep their jobs, even if it falls short of a path to citizenship. And immigrants will keep coming illegally in search of a better life unless there is some legal way they can apply for and find work."

The weaponization of the immigration debate and the continuing aftermath in Tennessee have been documented in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook:

  • Status quo emerges from Tennessee legislative session

  • Frist and Alexander votes diverge on Senate immigration bill

  • Exclusionists amplify anger; weaponized immigration prophecy fulfilled

  • "Shoot him" - Nashville radio cited in rise of violent rhetoric (updated)

  • Tennessee lawmakers wade through state-level immigration proposals

  • Anti-immigration sentiment ripe for political manipulation

  • Representative Jim Cooper calls for business leadership in immigrant debate

  • GOP weighs weaponized immigration issue in 2006 governor's race

  • Update June 24, 2006: This article in the New York Times similarly describes the House Republicans' strategy of inaction and heavily fortified opposition to the White House.

    Focus: Justice

    Metro PD recruits Spanish-speaking clergy volunteers

    Metro Police Nashville Davidson CountyThe Tennessean reports in this article that the Metro Nashville Police Department has recruited ten volunteer chaplains to interact with Spanish-speakers at crime scenes. The department requested clergy volunteers in January (story here) to comfort and advise witnesses and family members of victims, freeing up police for more official duties. A total of fifty volunteer chaplains assist with other police work, according to the article.

    "Without [an interpreter], it's hard for a Spanish-speaking family to understand why a loved one's body must stay at the crime scene and what happens at the coroner's office."

    "These are the types of questions the Metro Police Department's chaplains usually answer when they accompany officers for death notifications. Members of the volunteer program hope they can now give better answers to the city's Hispanic families through the help of 10 Spanish-speaking chaplains who enrolled in the program."

    Metro Police have been overcoming language and cultural barriers by launching programs like "El Protector" (story here), assuring witnesses that their immigration status will not be an issue when they help police solve crimes (story here), hosting community forums (story here), and sending officers to Spanish classes (story here).

    Focus: Justice

    Thursday, June 22, 2006

    Nissan invites minority subcontractors and vendors to HQ meeting tomorrow June 23

    nissanThe Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce alerted its members to attend a Diversity Subcontractor and Vendor Project Informational Meeting for the upcoming Nissan Corporate Headquarters project in Franklin, Tennessee. The RSVP deadline has passed, so attendees may want to confirm that space is available before arriving. The text of the NAHCC alert is below:

    Diversity Subcontractor/Vendor opportunity with Nissan
    NAHCC members invited to attend
    June 23rd 2006 11 am - 1 pm

    Senior Vice-President Gary A. Cooper and National Diversity Director James R.Threalkill with Skanska USA Building Inc. cordially invite members of our Chamber of Commerce to attend a Diversity Subcontractor and Vendor Project Informational Meeting for the upcoming Nissan Corporate Headquarters project in Franklin, Tennessee.

    The meeting, hosted by Skansk a USA Building Inc., will be held on June 23rd from 11AM – 1PM at the Jack Daniel’s Club located in the Gaylord Entertainment Center at 501 Broadway in Downtown Nashville.

    Skanska USA Building Inc. will provide complimentary parking in the Gaylord Entertainment Center Parking Garage located adjacent to the facility with entrance on the 6th Avenue side of the building. Lunch will also be provided.

    Your firm will have an opportunity to network and learn more about bid opportunities associated with this upcoming construction project.

    Skanska and Nissan are committed to pursuing and encouraging minority, women-owned, and local businesses to participate in the project.

    If your company is interested in learning more about opportunities associated with the Nissan Corporate Headquarters project, please join us on June 23rd. Reservations are required – please RSVP via e- mail to no later than Tuesday, June 20th.

    Focus: Business

    Hispanic health event reaches 150, more events planned

    The Nashville Latino Health Coalition issued this press release on the success of its recent community health event:

    A free bilingual community event called “Health Services within Reach - Servicios de Salud a su Alcance,” organized by the Nashville Latino Health Coalition (NLHC) and the Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee (HCGT), was held on Saturday, June 10th, at Antioch United Methodist Church. Around 150 people attended the event, including members of the Hispanic community and representatives of health-related organizations.

    More than 40 exhibitor tables provided information on available services and other resources, such as the Metropolitan Public Health Department, the Tennessee Department of Health, Nashville General Hospital, various healthcare clinics, non-profit organizations, universities, and others.

    Following a presentation about the coalition and a participatory discussion session, the attendees also enjoyed Mexican food from local taco stand vendors, a Mexican folkloric dance presentation, and a drawing for door prizes.

    The event achieved two purposes: (1) Information exchange – for Latino community members to share their needs and concerns with agency representatives; and for agency representatives to provide information and answer questions about available services; (2) Coalition building – to invite Latino community members to participate in the coalition in a collaborative way.

    NLHC and HCGT plan to follow up on this event with community meetings and collaborative projects that will include direct participation of Latino community members in decision-making and planning.

    NLHC has around 30 member organizations, including HCGT (a grassroots organization), which encourages members of the Latino community to be part of this coalition.

    Focus: Health

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    Activa serves up home-grown radio

    The Tennessean reports in this article that Nashville's WNVL Activa radio is beaming Spanish-language Nashville-based DJ's to its growing audience:

    "McSweeney's vision for the station was 'to have a DJ in every major day part,' especially the drive times, and he just fulfilled that goal."

    "Now, he has local voices beaming over the airwaves from early morning to late night, Monday through Saturday."

    "His DJs include Ricardo Cardenas ('El Gallo') and Janet Abeja ('La Barbie') on from 6 to 11 a.m., Ally Nambo ('La Tremenda') from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Alexis Luna ('El Grenas') from 3 to 7 p.m., and Noelia Fuentes ('La Bori') from 7 to 11 p.m. Covering traffic is Gloria Saucedo, and Al Cadenas has a 10 a.m. Wednesday show offering insurance and financial advice. Jose Falconette, a native Venezuelan, checks in at 1 p.m. Saturdays with 'Todo Deportes' ('Total Sports'), however his program is on hiatus until the World Cup concludes."

    "Other Spanish-language radio stations in the Nashville area include:
    • WMGC, La Sabrosita (810 AM), 24 hours a day
    • WKDA, Latina (900 AM), 24 hours a day
    • WHEW, La Ley (1380 AM), 5 a.m.-10 p.m. daily."

    Focus: Media

    The seeds of immigrant exclusion laws: banning the Chinese

    The month of May 1881 was marked by the most extraordinary anomaly which could possibly have arisen, among a people whose national existence is based on the Declaration of Independence, and the assumption of liberty and equality of all men, without distinction of race or colour.

    This extraordinary event was nothing less than that the American Legislature should have yielded to the clamours of the low Irish in California, and to their ceaseless anti-Chinese howl, to the extent of actually passing a law prohibiting all Chinese immigration for the next ten years, beginning from ninety days after the passing of the Act, heavy penalties being inflicted on any Shipmaster who shall land any Chinaman of the labouring class at any port in the Land of Freedom. An exception is made in favour of merchants, diplomatists, travellers, and students, provided they are duly provided with passports!

    A law has also been passed to prevent any Chinaman from becoming an American citizen--the fear being that so many might wish to avail themselves of that privilege, that the whole white population of the Pacific coast would ultimately find itself a small minority, and that the Chinese "Six Companies" (mysterious but mighty potentates, who rule all the affairs of their countrymen in California) would actually rule in the Legislature of the State.

    That enactments so utterly un-American could have been suffered to pass, appears so extraordinary... Public opinion appears to have been about equally divided on the question, the Eastern States taking part with the Chinamen, the Western States clamouring for his exclusion.

    The clamour, however, has carried the day, and for the next ten years no Chinese workman may enter the Golden Gates of the American Paradise.

    - Constance Gordon-Cumming, Granite Crags, 1884

    Focus: Justice

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    Two chamber events tonight June 20

    Two events hosted by local Hispanic chambers of commerce are competing for your attendance tonight:

    The Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce invites you to an evening of networking TONIGHT on TUESDAY, JUNE 20th at 5:30PM, Franklin Police Department, 109 2nd Avenue South, Franklin, TN 37064. Hispanic marketing presentation by Latin Market Communications. Bring 50 business cards. You do not need to speak Spanish or know anything about the Hispanic market. All meetings are in English. $5 Members (and students), $10 non-members. You do not need to RSVP. Special speaker surprise!

    The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosts a Wage & Hour Forum tonight, June 20th, 2006, from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at Scarritt-Bennett Center, 1008 19th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212. Many business owners are unaware of what is required to comply with discrimination and wage and hour laws until they are cited for violating them, which can be an expensive lesson. This is an opportunity for business owners to find out how the laws apply to them and to get answers to questions like:
    • How to avoid employment discrimination complaints
    • Examples of different kinds of employment discrimination issues such as I can’t hire a woman to do this job; paying men more than females for doing the same job; or telling a job applicant they are too old for the job and others
    • How to respond to a complaint of discrimination
    • When and how much you must pay your employees
    • Examples of wage violations such as not paying an employee for overtime, or the special minimum wages for restaurant employees; when and what you must pay an employee when you terminate him/her
    • How to respond to a wage violation complaint
    This event is FREE and OPEN to the public. Please call (615) 216-5737 or e- mail us at if you would like to highlight your business at this program.

    Focus: Business

    World Refugee Day today; Centennial Park refugee camp in October

    The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition sent this press release promoting World Refugee Day, which is today, June 20, and announcing a refugee camp exhibit in Centennial Park for October:

    The United Nations General Assembly designated June 20, 2000 as World Refugee Day to recognize and celebrate the contribution of refugees throughout the world. Since then, World Refugee Day has become an annual commemoration marked by a variety of events in over a hundred countries. This year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will commemorate World Refugee Day for the sixth time with the inspirational theme: “Hope,” in order to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees worldwide who are forced to flee their homes. An estimated 33 million people worldwide are displaced by conflict, fleeing violence in countries such as Afghanistan, Colombia, and Sudan. The day is also an excellent opportunity to reflect on the life stories of many of our refugee neighbors here in Tennessee, and the amazing diversity they bring to our state.

    From October 4-8, Nashville will host "A Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City." This interactive outdoor exhibit in Centennial Park is sponsored by Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian organization that delivers emergency medical aid to people displaced by war and natural disasters. At the exhibit, aid workers will guide visitors through the camp where they will explore real shelters, see how food is distributed, taste the high-energy biscuits distributed to combat malnutrition, learn how clean water and waste disposal are essential to survival, and understand basic health care and epidemic control. Interactive and educational, the refugee camp exhibit will ask visitors to imagine that they themselves have been uprooted by war, and encourages them to consider: Will I be safe? Do I have any rights? How long will I be here?

    If you would like to sign up a group for a visit to the refugee camp exhibit, the request form and submission instructions are available here.

    Focus: Justice

    Monday, June 19, 2006

    Diverse faculty by design at Vanderbilt

    The City Paper reports in this article that Vanderbilt University has hired five African-American professors in an attempt to expose its student body to a more diverse faculty.

    "With Houston Baker, Ifeoma Nwankwo, Charlotte Pierce-Baker, Alice Randall and Hortense Spillers set to begin work at VU for the fall semester, the university’s English Department will see its black professorship roster increase from one to six."

    "The move, known as cluster hiring in academia, is part of a university-wide effort to train minority students and to better collaborate with historically black colleges, according to the school."

    "In 1996, Vanderbilt’s faculty consisted of 10.2 percent minorities of all backgrounds. In 2005, that number had risen to 14.2 percent."

    Focus: Education

    Sunday, June 18, 2006

    Just missed: U.S. exports political mindlessness to Bolivia

    The City Paper reported in this article that the film Our Brand Is Crisis passed through Nashville last week. It features James Carville's political strategy firm in Bolivia, where meaningless slogans wield extraordinary power.

    "Whether you view yourself on the left, right or in the middle, there are aspects of Rachel Boynton’s penetrating and compelling new documentary Our Brand Is Crisis that should prove troubling."

    "Boynton’s film, showing at the Belcourt through this week, reveals the growing international impact of tactics and techniques that have dramatically affected the electoral process. It seems negative attack ads, targeted appeals, deceptive slogans and focus group campaigning not only work on these shores, but also are now being exported to such nations as Bolivia, whose 2002 presidential campaign provides the source material for Boynton’s cinematic study."

    Focus: Justice

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Nashville's new Univision affiliate

    According to this press release, Nashville will become an affiliate city of the popular Spanish-language Univision television network. The network is currently available in Nashville via satellite and cable TV packages, but being an affiliate means that local personnel and programming will also be available to the Nashville market under the Univision brand.

    Equity Broadcasting Corporation ("EBC"), which has entered into an agreement to merge with Coconut Palm Acquisition Corporation, announced today that it has entered into Asset Purchase Agreements for four new television stations. The company will use these stations to bring Univision affiliates to three additional markets -- Nashville, Jacksonville, Fla., and Waco, Texas.

    WGAP-LP, Channel 26, will serve as the Univision affiliate in Nashville, a television market that reaches more than 900,000 households.

    EBC currently owns and operates 19 Univision and TeleFutura affiliates and these new acquisitions will bring the total to 22. The company hopes to have Univision programming on air in all three markets by January 2007.

    Equity Broadcasting Corporation is one of the largest owners and operators of television stations in the United States and a distribution platform for Spanish-language media. EBC is the second largest affiliate group of both the top-ranked Univision television network and Univision's TeleFutura network.

    Univision Communications Inc. ("Univision") is the leading Spanish-language media company in the United States. Its operations include television, radio, music and internet offerings that entertain and inform more Hispanics each day than any other media company in the country. Univision's television operations include the Univision Network, TeleFutura Network and Galavision.

    Channel 26 will become Nashville's third locally based Spanish-language television affiliate, after Channel 4-WSMV announced it would become an affiliate of Univision competitor Telemundo beginning June 12 (story here), and Univision subsidiary TeleFutura began broadcasting in partnership with Channel 5-WTVF in 2004 (story here).

    Focus: Media

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Newly christened Activa on Nashville's AM dial

    The Nashville Business Journal reports in this article that Nashville's 24-hour Spanish-language station WNLV 1240-AM has changed names and is under new management:

    "Nashville's only 24-hour Hispanic radio station, WNLV 1240-AM, has a new name. Listeners selected the new name, Activa, through an on-air contest. The change was prompted by Hispanic radio veteran Thomas J. McSweeney, who has been in charge of the station since April."

    "Activa's focus is Regional Mexican and contemporary international music. The station's listening area covers the Nashville metro area and its surrounding counties."

    McSweeney was previously with Univision Radio in Los Angeles.

    Focus: Media

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    Cultural Calendar: June 2006

    Eva Melo of Latin Market Communications regularly publishes a Cultural Calendar for Middle Tennessee. Here are some of the events through June:

    TUESDAY, JUNE 13: 6-7PM, SPANISH & ENGLISH STORY TIME, Williamson County Library, 1314 Columbia Ave, Franklin, TN, 37064, Cecilia Melo- Rome, (615)595-1244

    TUES, JUNE 20: 5:30-7:00PM. THE FRANKLIN AREA HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE NETWORKING NIGHT. Franklin Police Department, 109 2nd Ave S, Franklin, TN 37064, come in from awning on the side of the building, located in city hall off the Franklin square, $5 members (and students), $10 non-members. 615- 599-0045

    TUESDAY, JUNE 20: 5:30-7PM: SPANISH LANGUAGE EDUCATIONAL FORUM, in Spanish, Scarritt-Bennett Center located at 1008 – 19th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212, “Where we stand” – This forum will address how to comply with discrimination, wage and hour and banking laws. Presented by the Human Relations Commission and the Nashville Hispanic Chamber.

    THURS. JUNE 22:7-9PM SUMMER TANGO MILONGA Ibiza Night Club, 15128 Old Hickory Blvd. Nashville, TN 37211, (almost corner with Nolensville Pike, in the Hickory Trace Village strip mall where the Sherwin Williams store is). Diana Holland 615.889.3390.

    TUESDAY, JUNE 20: 2:00-3:30pm, TASK FORCE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS, TIRRC United Methodist Church (Room 318), 2200 West End Avenue, Nashville.

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    deSol Latin Rock band at Mercy Lounge tonight June 10

    The Tennessean reports in this article that the New Jersey Latin Rock band deSol is playing Mercy Lounge tonight.

    "Songs off the band's self-titled Curb Records debut have been paralleled to a continuation of Santana and Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas' 'Smooth' pop collaboration."

    "The band's 18+ show starts at 9:30 p.m., and tickets are $8."

    Focus: Entertainment

    Thursday, June 8, 2006

    AVANCE "Strategies for Success" - free Spanish-language event Saturday June 10

    Conexion Americas, Belmont University and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce have partnered once again for !AVANCE 2006!, this year the topic is “Strategies for Success in the United States” specially designed for the Hispanic Community to learn, interact and network in their own language.

    The unique event which will empower and provide strategies to the Hispanic community to be self sustainable will be this coming Saturday, June 10 at 10:00 a.m. at Neely Dining Hall at Belmont’s Massey Business School. Dr. Joachim Posada who will give thee keynote address is an internationally recognized speaker. Who has conducted management seminars for Fortune 500 companies for more than 25 years, author of the book "How to Survive Among Piranhas: How to Get What You Want With What You Have" and a prestigious consultant who has been involved with the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers and the Panamanian Olympic team; will motivate the estimated 300 attendees to take action by providing basic strategies for success.

    “As the United States continues the vital discussion about the role of immigrants in our country, Conexión Américas through !AVANCE! Strategies for Success in the U.S.; continues its approach of empowering the Hispanic community with tools that allow them to be self-sustainable and contributing members to our community and economy.” Said Jose Gonzalez, Executive Director of Conexion Americas.

    !Avance! provides a great venue to market and interact with Nashville’s Hispanic community for its sponsors and supporters. Sponsors in Corporate America that have recognized the need for such a program in our community include: SunTrust Bank, The City Paper, Southeast Financial Credit Union, Waller Landsden Dorch & Davis, the Tennessee Department of Economic Development and Media Mail.

    Break Out Topics include:

    * “Strategies to be successful as a business owner”;
    * “Hispanic women in the 21st century”;
    * “Breaking the silence: Education about personal finances”;
    * “The rules of the game: What recent Hispanic immigrants need to know about living in the U.S.”;
    * “Employment: ideas for maximizing your potential”

    This conference is a service of Cónexion Américas, in Spanish, free or charge and open to the public with prior registration.

    Focus: Business

    Wednesday, June 7, 2006

    Hispanic health coalition hosts public event Saturday June 10

    On the heels of this Tennessean article on the maturing health care network for Hispanics in Middle Tennessee and the unique issues facing Hispanic patients and their caregivers, the Nashville Latino Health Coalition will hold a bilingual health care information and networking event this Saturday, June 10. The text of the press release is as follows:

    Nashville, TN – The Nashville Latino Health Coalition is organizing a bilingual community event to bring together members of the Latino community and Nashville’s health and social service providers for an interactive dialogue. The “Health Services within Reach – Servicios de Salud a su Alcance” event will take place on Saturday, June 10, 2006, from 3:00-7:00 P.M. at Antioch United Methodist Church, located at 41 Tusculum Road in Antioch.

    The purpose of the event is twofold: (1) information exchange – for Latino community members to share their needs and concerns with agency representatives, and for agency representatives to provide information and answer questions about available services; and (2) coalition building – to invite Latino community members to participate in the coalition in a collaborative way.

    Around 40 organizations will provide information and materials in an exhibition area. Small group discussion sessions will focus on various topic that will be selected by the participants from the Hispanic community. The event will conclude with a community celebration with Latin music and food. The event is free, and child care will be provided.

    “We extend a cordial invitation for people to attend this event because it is very important for the community, and people need to know where to go when they have an emergency,” says Gerardo Martinez, member of the Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee (HCGT), which is part of the coalition and is playing a central role in organizing the event.

    “We want to emphasize the importance of this event to the community, because it will be the first time in which our own perspectives on the Hispanic community’s health needs will be directly heard,” stated Erandi García, member of HCGT.

    “We invite other Hispanic community members to participate in this event because we want to hear their opinions. Many health-related agencies will attend the event that are anxious to hear our suggestions and ideas on how they can serve us better,” emphasized Patricia Vivanco, member of HCGT.

    The Nashville Latino Health Coalition is comprised of community members and around 30 organizations from the Hispanic community and the health care, social service, academic and public sectors. For more information, contact Juan Canedo (615-587-0365).

    Focus: Health

    Tuesday, June 6, 2006

    Three Hispanic chambers of commerce in Middle Tennessee

    The Tennessean in this article profiles Middle Tennessee's three Hispanic chambers of commerce: the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

    "Three Hispanic chambers - the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce - have sprung up to serve this community. For them, advocacy does not stop at the bottom line. It also can mean organizing carnivals and pageants, developing positions on key political issues, and serving as a goodwill ambassador be tween the Spanish- and English-speaking communities."

    "So long is the list of needs, it has produced schisms within the Hispanic business community, as leaders have differed over direction and priorities. But all three agree on one thing: The success of their organizations depends on being more than simply a booster for business."

    "The proliferation of Hispanic chambers comes amid an immigration boom in Nashville. Davidson County now has the largest Hispanic population of any county in Tennessee, more than 31,000 people. Rutherford and Williamson counties rank third and eighth, respectively."

    "That has helped push the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the Nashville area up more than 40 percent since the late 1990s to more than 1,500 companies."

    "The chambers remain independent of one another, but they nonetheless share a few characteristics:
    - All are led by Hispanic business people, with memberships that draw both Hispanics and non-Hispanics.
    - All three conduct their meetings in English, though some provide Spanish translators.
    - All three chapters see themselves as bridges between the Anglo and Latino worlds."

    As for the chambers' constituencies, the article cites the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington as saying that "fewer than 40 percent" of Nashville's Hispanic residents "have a high school diploma and less than half can speak English well."

    Focus: Business

    Monday, June 5, 2006

    Foreign citizens' marriage licenses withheld

    Couples with all available government documents are among the victims

    The Tennessean reports in this article that many county clerks in Tennessee are denying marriage licenses to foreign citizen couples when one or both of the betrothed is not eligible under federal law for a Social Security number.

    "Across the state, immigrant couples are being denied marriage licenses. In some cases one or both of the pair are undocumented. But even some legal immigrants have had difficulty obtaining licenses because of the identification requirements at some county clerks' offices."

    "The policy of recording Social Security numbers on marriage licenses came about in response to a federal law that was designed to make it easier for the government to track down parents who refuse to pay child support."

    "Tennessee passed a law in 1997 requiring couples that want a marriage license to provide their Social Security numbers to their county clerks. Many counties began restricting marriage licenses for those people without Social Security numbers sometime after that."

    "To obtain a Social Security card, a person must be an American citizen or legally be allowed to work in the United States, Social Security Administration spokesman Frank Viera said. That means even some people legally in the United States, such as those here on tourist or student visas, can not obtain Social Security numbers."

    The article quotes Hedy Weinberg, director of the Tennessee office of the American Civil Liberties Union, as saying the denial of marriage licenses to expatriates without Social Security numbers is an incorrect interpretation of the state statute and is also an unconstitutional denial of a person's fundamental right to marry.

    The article also quotes the Rev. Joseph Breen of St. Edward Church, which is considering busing parishioners to Kentucky to obtain marriage licenses but is also no longer requiring couples to obtain a license from the state before performing a marriage ceremony.

    Focus: Justice

    Hispanic PAC: a first in Tennessee

    Diverse group agrees on access to drivers licenses

    According to this article in the Tennessean, Tennessee has a new Political Action Committee (PAC): the Tennessee Hispanic Voters Coalition.

    "The coalition is probably the only Hispanic political action committee in Tennessee, according to Drew Rawlins, executive director of the state Registry of Election Finance."

    "Its leaders plan to eventually take on political issues, but only those issues that at least three-quarters of the board, made up equally of liberals, conservatives and independents, agree on."

    "For instance, 'we all agree there must be some kind of driver's license (available to Hispanics),' [President Fabian] Bedne said."

    The group's plans include voter registration, which includes convincing legal residents to obtain citizenship so they can vote, recruiting candidates, and creating a survey of politicians' positions on issues that matter to Hispanic voters in Tennessee.

    Focus: Justice

    Telemundo TV launches in Nashville June 12

    Joins three radio stations, nine newspapers, and one other TV station broadcasting from Nashville in Spanish

    According to this article in the Tennessean, Spanish-language network television station Telemundo will be added to Nashville's media lineup.

    "Channel 4 will begin broadcasting Telemundo, the nation's second-highest rated Spanish network, on a digital frequency on June 12. The station also is in final negotiations with Comcast and Charter Communications to have the channel added to its digital cable systems."

    "The station would be the second in Spanish in the Nashville area, joining Channel 42, which carries programming under a contract with Univision subsidiary Telefutura. Univision, the nation's top-rated Spanish network, also is available on local cable systems" but is not broadcast through a local station.

    "The Telemundo affiliate will begin by picking up programming from the national network, but eventually the station will start producing some of its own news and programming, said Hale. Besides Telefutura, Telemundo will join at least three Spanish-language radio stations and nine Spanish newspapers."

    Focus: Media

    Multicultural packaging venture is born in Nashville

    BusinessAccording to this press release, three Nashville businesses have formed a multicultural product packaging venture.

    Marcela Gomez, president of Hispanic Marketing Group ( and Maitane Zuloaga Tidwell, president of Inclusive Communications (, have joined innovative Nashville-based manufacturer and marketer, Vietti Foods Company, Inc., ( to form Diversity Brands LLC ( Diversity Brands is uniquely positioned as a multicultural strategic marketer with majority Hispanic ownership and with packaged goods expertise in navigating U.S. consumer markets.

    With established manufacturing and distribution resources and a strong presence at leading retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kroger and Dollar General Stores, Vietti Foods Company, Inc. makes available substantial benefits to Diversity Brands' clients seeking access to lucrative but complex U.S. markets.

    Diversity Brands is currently developing branding and distribution strategies for the newly-formed U.S. division of Morelia, Mexico-based food manufacturer, Mi Viejita (, an established industrial supplier of dehydrated ingredients to companies such as Unilever, one of the worlds' largest packaged goods companies and marketer of Dove, Lipton and Slim-Fast brands. Costa Rican coffee grower and exporter Mena Specialty Trading has tapped Diversity Brands to analyze the growing demand for premium coffee products and to develop marketing strategies. Diversity Brands is currently working with a company in Mexico for the distribution of figurines of soccer players in the U.S.

    "Early in our conversations about the Diversity Brands concept I recognized that Marcela and Maitane had strong professional and cultural connections along with the energy and integrity necessary to build a client base. They needed the packaged goods expertise and a distribution infrastructure such as is available through Vietti Foods to make it work," stated Philip Connelly, president of Vietti Foods Company, Inc. in Nashville.

    "In our daily work in Hispanic and other minority communities we have seen a significant increase in their purchasing power, thus increasing demand for more products that appeal to their culture and heritage," said, Marcela Gomez, a native of Bogota, Colombia.

    "As the U.S. market becomes more diverse, it creates the need for industry experts to lead the way in navigating the biggest consumer market in the world. Diversity Brands is positioned to help fledgling companies gain access," said native Mexican, Maitane Tidwell. "We believe the insight on the markets we have will help our clients' better reach adventurous and sophisticated consumers seeking authentic ethnic food experiences."

    Vietti Foods Company, Inc. is a subsidiary of Choice Food Group, a privately-held investment company with focus on the food industry. Choice Food Group specializes in wholesale food service distribution of broad line products through Choice Food Distributors, Inc., and the manufacturing and marketing of food products through Vietti Foods Company, Inc.

    Focus: Business

    Friday, June 2, 2006

    Status quo emerges from Tennessee legislative session

    The good news for expatriates in Tennessee is that state law is not going to be any more exclusionary than it already is. According to this article in the Nashville City Paper, of 19 bills that were submitted in 2006 but opposed by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, only 1 passed, and it was targeted at employers and not the direct exclusion of foreigners. This leaves the state law status quo mostly unchanged, indicating a legislative effort to resist the weaponization of immigration law into a wedge issue in 2006 (story here). To the extent that a wedge was attempted, businesses were united in their opposition, according to this article in the Tennessean.

    The bad news is that the status quo in state law had already become increasingly exclusionary before this year's legislative session. For example, since 2004, all non-permanent immigrants in Tennessee (students, temporary business travelers, undocumented workers and their families) have been given a "Certificate of Driving" instead of a full-fledged Tennessee drivers license (story here). And in February 2006 the Department of Safety suspended the issuance of even the Certificate of Driving to undocumented immigrants, effectively illegalizing the act of driving itself for that segment of the population and cutting off their access to automobile liability insurance (story here).

    Nashville civil rights history on stage tonight June 2

    The Nashville City Paper reports in this story that Nashville’s Amun Ra Theatre (ART) and Actor’s Bridge Ensemble will conduct a joint reading of the play "Ordinary Heroes," which features Nashville's prominent role in the civil rights movement. The reading is a preview; performances of the play will debut in February 2007.

    “'This is truly a collaborative effort between black and white theatrical companies,' Amun Ra Artistic Director and playwright jeff obafemi carr said. 'We’re doing this as a 50-50 project, and as a way of really looking at the whole scope of Nashville’s involvement in and contributions to the Civil Rights movement. It’s a 21st century production, the marriage of the MTV generation with the classic theatrical style and structure.'”

    "Ordinary Heroes combines straight narrative, spoken word segments, dance, music and multi-media inserts. It was originally funded through a creation grant with the Metro Arts Commission, and the two companies interviewed both famous and little-known people who were involved in the movement. The play offers many stories, images, encounters and anecdotes, and carr emphasizes the importance of audience attendance and interaction at tonight’s reading."

    The reading is at 7:30 p.m. tonight at The Actor’s Bridge Ensemble Neuhoff Site, 100 Monroe Street. Cost is $7. For more information call 506-5988 or e-mail

    Thursday, June 1, 2006

    Mexican children's story featured in free Nashville Ballet performance June 2

    The Tennessean reports in this article that the Nashville Ballet will perform the tale of the Borreguita and the Coyote in a free children's program tomorrow night, Friday, June 2.

    "When a gullible, yet hungry, coyote picks up on the trail of Borreguita (which means 'little lamb' in Spanish), the fleece-covered trickster must outsmart him before she becomes dinner. Along the way, the mountains and the moon, and other inanimate objects dance to life, set to the tune of Spanish-style classical guitar."

    "'Both entertaining and educational, study guides and background information about the story will be available beforehand, so that young attendees will have the chance to familiarize themselves with the performance.'"

    The performance will be held at 7pm at the Red Caboose Amphitheater, at Colice Jeanne Road and Highway 70. For more information contact Metro Parks at 862-8424 or the Nashville Ballet at their web site.
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