Citizen Housing and Transit Needs with Jackie Sims

  • David Plazas is the Director of Opinion and Engagement for USA TODAY Network Tennessee.

The Reverend James Lawson, champion of nonviolent resistance and teacher of the late Representative John Lewis, changed Jackie Sims’ life forever.

Sims retired as a mental health professional in South Carolina to Tennessee and she sought to contribute to her new community. She said her training under Lawson’s tutelage changed her forever.

“Dr. Lawson broadened my understanding of violence,” she said in this episode of the Tennessee Voices video podcast. “He helped me broaden my understanding of who my neighbor is. He helped me see my work from a deeply spiritual perspective.”

Since arriving in Nashville, Sims has been deeply involved in organizing the successful 2018 voter referendum to create a community police oversight board.

Today, she is the executive director of the People’s Alliance for Transportation, Housing and Jobs, also known as PATHE.

She spoke of her work advocating for low-income people and pushing politicians to “stop kicking the streets” on challenges such as affordable housing.

We discussed what it means to be a truly “progressive” city and how organizing isn’t about promoting yourself, it’s about being selfless.

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About Tennessee Voices

The Tennessee Voices videocast is a 20-minute program, which began in March 2020 and invites leaders, thinkers and innovators who have written articles for a USA TODAY Network Tennessee publication to share their ideas and wisdom with me and our viewers.

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Watch past episodes: Tennessee Voices Video Broadcast

David Plazas is director of opinion and engagement for USA TODAY Network Tennessee and a member of the editorial board of The Tennessean. Tweet him at @davidplazas.

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