After years of being closed due to financial struggles, Knoxville College – and other HBCUs around the country – need additional financial resources in order to meet the needs of their community.

The Black Poverty rate in Knoxville is 42% — higher than the cities of Memphis, Atlanta, and Chattanooga.

Minority entrepreneurs, without access to financial resources, human capital, and institutional support, often struggle to get their small businesses off the ground.

The War on Drugs has been costly – financially and with individual livelihoods. Over 1.6 million people were arrested for a drug law violation in 2018 alone – at a cost of more than 47 billion dollars.

Black communities often carry the brunt of the impact of brutal police tactics, like with the recent murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Both Floyd and Eric Garner were victims of outdated, ineffective police tactics.

This doesn’t stop once arrested either. According to the Sentencing Project, “African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested; once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, and they are more likely to experience lengthy prison sentences.”

Of those incarcerated, Tennessee has more held in privately-run prisons than nearly every other state in the country. These for-profit prisons cut corners, hiring fewer employees and paying and training them less. A 2016 report from the Justice Department found also have much higher rates of violence, assaults, and illegal weapons. But instead of focusing on improving their facilities, these private prison operators, like CoreCivic in Nashville, spend millions in political contributions to maintain the status quo, like their support of my current Congressman in East Tennessee.

Often, public and private employers ask about criminal history on job applications – making it challenging for the formerly incarcerated to find a job and restart their lives.

That’s why, in Congress, I’ll support:

  • Legislation like the Future Act (HR 5363) which provide financial resources to Knoxville College and other HBCUs across the country.
  • Creating a federal program that funds the provision of microloans to entrepreneurs of color.
  • Reforming our criminal justice system by ending the war on drugs & banning private prisons.
  • Legislation, Congressman Jeffries bill, calling for a national ban on chokeholds as a police tactic, and the package of policing reforms that the Congressional Black Caucus is writing.
  • Passing federal “Ban the Box” legislation – ensuring all employers remove barriers to reentry for people with criminal records

Finally, my commitment to you is to listen and amplify the voices of black members of our community. If you have any ideas for a policy or issue I’ve missed, let me know in the comments below — I promise to respond to each one.