Civil Rights

"Trans people are divine," reads a sign at a Nashville event hosted by clergy on Feb. 6, 2023. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Purported pain, dismissive politics

BY: - February 7, 2023

I’ve been a clinical chaplain in healthcare, involved for 15 years in the practical amelioration of peoples’ hurts—working with a patient, their community of care, and our team to address physical pain, material concerns, and any potential spiritual, existential, and emotional areas of disease with which folks might be contending.  And while such work has […]

Screen grab of Commissioner Margie Quin of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services addressing the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday, Jan.30. Department of Finance and Administration Dave Thurman and DCS Chief of Staff Andy Verenski are seated to her right.

GOP lawmaker: TBI is investigating current and former DCS employees

BY: - February 2, 2023

A Republican lawmaker said during a public hearing this week that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is probing the conduct of current and former employees of the Department of Children’s Services – an investigation a TBI spokesperson later said she could neither confirm nor deny. “I’ve been made aware of a specific instance where the […]

Department of Children's Services Commissioner Margie Quin with DCS Chief of Staff Andy Verenski, speaking to a legislative committee on December 14, 2022. (Screen grab from Tennessee General Assembly video)

DCS seeks immediate $26.6M to add suitable places for abused and neglected kids to stay

BY: - January 31, 2023

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services is seeking an immediate infusion of $26.6 million from the state legislature to address a crisis in care that has left kids sleeping on office floors and in hospital beds because there are no other places for them. In making the ask on Monday before the House Finance, Ways, […]

A police car blocks entrance to the Hernando DeSoto Bridge over the Mississippi River in Memphis after a substantial crack was found in it May 11. (Photo: Karen Pulfer Focht)

Citizens deserve access to police video even when people don’t die

BY: - January 31, 2023

If the video footage from the Tyre Nichols beating in Memphis tells us anything, it’s that we need to keep protecting the tools that allow public accountability for corruption. Two bills in the Legislature last year sought to reduce a citizen’s ability to view body cam or other law enforcement video footage. One passed and […]

Elaine Stephens is examined by a medical student in University of Alabama-Birmingham's standardized patient program. In the early years of this program, Stephens says, some students' bedside manner would change once she revealed her was transgender. (Photo: UAB Office of Standardized Patient Education)

Transgender people in rural America struggle to find doctors willing or able to provide care

BY: - January 24, 2023

For Tammy Rainey, finding a health care provider who knows about gender-affirming care has been a challenge in the rural northern Mississippi town where she lives. As a transgender woman, Rainey needs the hormone estrogen, which allows her to physically transition by developing more feminine features. But when she asked her doctor for an estrogen […]

A bill seeks to regulate the arrests of juveniles after former Rutherford County Juvenile Court Judge Donna Scott Davenport, in green judicial robes, came under fire in 2022 for the detention of more than a thousand children. (Photo:

Legislation aims at averting excessive jailing of juveniles

BY: - January 18, 2023

Still stinging from a $6 million settlement against Rutherford County over child arrests, state Rep. Mike Sparks is pushing legislation he believes would have stopped the aggressive lockup of children. Sparks, a Smyrna Republican, is preparing legislation prohibiting interviews or interrogations of children without the presence of legal counsel, parent, guardian or custodian. In addition, […]

Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott King lead a black voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery. | William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images

Know better, do better: a civil rights reading list

BY: - January 16, 2023

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated two months before my fourth birthday in 1968 and Robert Kennedy, former U.S. attorney general and Democratic presidential candidate, was assassinated the day after I turned four.  I remember Kennedy’s death, although not King’s, despite that King’s occurred in Memphis, just a couple of hundred miles west of […]

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), photographed in Washington, DC, on June 8, will speak at the January 16 Spencer Fane Bone McAllester MLK Fellowship Breakfast in Nashville. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Spencer Fane Bone McAllester to host 22nd MLK Fellowship Breakfast in Nashville

BY: - December 29, 2022

Spencer Fane Bone McAllester will hold its 22nd Annual MLK Fellowship Breakfast on January 16 with featured speaker, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, at the Tennessee State Museum.  The event is held each year on the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. The law firm’s website says that the event “celebrates […]

Sign at the entrance to the John S. Wilder Youth Development Center. Reports have chronicled instances of verbal, physical and sexual assault of juveniles housed at the facility. (Photo: Google Earth)

Nonprofit report urges Tennessee DCS to pivot from institutionalizing kids

BY: - December 23, 2022

A new report by a pair of nonprofit organizations urges the Department of Children’s Services to pivot away from institutionalizing troubled youth to instead providing needed services to families. The report, released Wednesday by Disability Rights Tennessee and the Youth Law Center, examines the state’s youth justice system overseen by the troubled department, which is […]

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 21: A makeshift memorial near the Club Q nightclub continues to grow on November 21, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Club Q survivors at U.S. House hearing denounce anti-LGBTQ rhetoric

BY: - December 15, 2022

Survivors of a deadly attack at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs and other advocates told a U.S. House panel Wednesday that political rhetoric and policy fights dehumanize LGBTQ people and contribute to such violence. Democrats and Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee largely sympathized with the survivors, but drew different conclusions […]

President Joe Biden speaks at a ceremony marking the signing of the Respect for Marriage Act on Dec. 13, 2022 outside the White House. (Screen shot from White House video)

Biden signs law extending marriage protections to same-sex and interracial couples

BY: - December 13, 2022

WASHINGTON — Same-sex and interracial couples had many of their marriage rights codified Tuesday when President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan marriage equality bill during a ceremony attended by thousands outside the White House.  In a brief speech, Biden told supporters on the South Lawn that “marriage is a simple proposition — who do you […]

Supporters of same-sex marriage unfurl a large rainbow pride flag near the U.S. Supreme Court, April 28, 2015, in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Marriage equality bill heads to Biden’s desk following bipartisan U.S. House vote

BY: - December 11, 2022

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House overwhelmingly approved a marriage equality bill Thursday that would ensure same-sex and interracial couples continue holding many of the rights they have now, should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the cases that established those constitutional protections.   The measure now heads to the desk of President Joe Biden, who plans to […]