Thursday, July 27, 2006

Welcoming Tennessee billboards rise in Nashville

The official public launch of the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative is today with the announcement of a 50-billboard campaign throughout Middle Tennessee. A press conference is scheduled for Thursday at noon at the billboard at 7th and Demonbreun. WKRN Channel 2 got a jump on the reporting Wednesday night (see this story which accompanied a short piece on the 10pm news).

Here is the press release:


A major goal: dampen hurtful rhetoric against immigrants in political campaigns

NASHVILLE, TN- A group of concerned Tennesseans has launched an initiative to remind us of our state’s core values that are being suffocated in today’s political climate. The Welcoming Tennessee Initiative is founded on the principle that Tennesseans are proud to be decent and hospitable, with a shared responsibility to treat all neighbors with empathy and respect.

To preserve these values, the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative has begun a regional billboard campaign aimed at reminding Nashville area residents that positive voices are needed to elevate the immigration discussion, and to demonstrate our values to the immigrants of our state. The first two billboards read as follows: “Welcome the Immigrant You Once Were” and “I Was a Stranger, And You Welcomed Me.”

As immigrants continue to call Tennessee home, this initiative is committed to a better understanding of the contributions that immigrants make to our state. It reminds us that we are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants and challenges hurtful stereotypes that are prevalent in political campaigns.

The group hopes to build their messages in cooperation with other groups who have been and are concerned about the well-being of all Tennesseans.

Gregg Ramos, attorney and son of immigrant parents said, “Anytime a segment of our society is denied basic human rights, like due process, we all suffer, so I was attracted to the effort to raise the level of discourse about immigration in Tennessee.”

“We believe that new Tennesseans share our values, contribute to our economy, enhance our combined culture and strengthen our communities,” stated Bill Partridge, professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University.

For more information about the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative please visit

John Lamb, the editor of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, is on the steering committee of the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative.

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