All panels and activities associated with this convening will take place on Tennessee State University's Avon Williams campus. The address is 330 10th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37203. For directions, click here.

Plenary Sessions

The Importance and Meaning of the Reproductive Justice Framework
Saturday, October 28th 8:40-9:40 AM
Room: AWC Auditorium

We often use "reproductive rights" "reproductive justice" and "reproductive freedom" interchangeably, but you might be surprised to learn that they don't have the same meaning. Reproductive justice was a movement founded by women of color and specifically Black women to describe not only the right to an abortion, but the right to access healthcare, the right to parent without state interference, and many other issues affecting parents of color in the U.S. 

Reproductive Justice and Mass Incarceration in Tennessee
Saturday, October 28th 9:45-10:45 AM
Room: AWC Auditorium

Shackling during childbirth, removal of parental rights due to separation caused by the unjust cash bail system, lack of access to reproductive healthcare in jails and prisons, the criminalization of pregnancy, abortion, childbirth, and parenting, coercive sterilization in jails and prisons, punishing survivors of domestic violence for "failure to protect" their children from their abusers...these are just some of the myriad issues affecting people who are incarcerated. This session will discuss what work needs to be done in Tennessee and help give us a framework for thinking about reproductive coercion by the state.

What Is Comprehensive Sex Education and Why Do We Need it in Tennessee?
Sunday, October 29th 8:40-9:40 AM 
Room: AWC Auditorium
The U.S is experiencing record levels of sexually transmitted infections (STI) due to lack of sex education and contraception access across the country. Tennessee passed a restrictive law in 2012 referred to as the "Gateway Law" because it prohibited groups from teaching about anything that could be considered a "gateway" to sexual activity. Importantly, the law was amended in 2014 from abstinence-only to abstinence-based sex education, but what is the difference? And how do either of these differ from comprehensive sex education? This panel will discuss the U.S. and Tennessee policy environment, and how advocates, students, teachers, and parents at the municipal level are working to expand access to comprehensive sex education locally and statewide.

Breakout Sessions

Breakouts #1: Saturday October 28th 11:00 AM-12:10 PM

  • HIV in Tennessee: Innovations in Policy, Treatment, and Destigmatization 
    Room: 354
    2017 was an exciting year for HIV policy in Tennessee and 2018 is shaping up to be even better! Come learn about grassroots and grasstops efforts to prevent and treat HIV in Tennessee. Are HIV rates increasing or decreasing and why? How has treatment improved over the years? Which communities are most impacted by HIV? This panel will answer these questions and more. Speakers: Larry Frampton from Tennessee AIDS Advocacy NetworkDewayne Murrell, Christ Community Health ServicesKayla GoreOutMemphisThunder Kelly (TK) Hampton, Street Works Nashville.
  • Measuring Women’s & Children’s Health & Well-being Against Abortion Restrictions in TN
    Room: AWC Auditorium

    This panel will discuss how abortion is just one part of a whole range of reproductive health care services and how they are linked. Tennessee policymakers claim to care about the health and safety of women and children when restricting access to abortion, but what does the data say? Speakers: Rebecca Terrell from CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproductive HealthFran Linkin from Center for Reproductive RightsJane Seymour from Ibis Reproductive HealthCherisse ScottSisterReach.
  • Know Your Rights: What to Do If You're Stopped by the Police/Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    Room: Training Room 2

    This training covers civilian-police interactions on the street, in your car and in your home. The training focuses on Fourth Amendment rights in relation to searches and seizures, and provides practical advice for getting through a police encounter safely and calmly, with your rights fully intact. Speakers: Tom Castelli, Legal Director ACLU-TN; Jared Mollenkof, Metropolitan Nashville Public Defender's Office.

Breakouts #2: Saturday October 28th 1:40-2:50 PM

  • Ya'll Means All: Fighting for LGBTQ Rights in Tennessee
    Room: 354
    This panel will discuss recent statewide and municipal policies affecting the LGBTQ community as well as LGBTQ advocacy in education and healthcare happening statewide. Speakers: Chris Sanders from Tennessee Equality ProjectMarisa Richmond from Tennessee Transgender Political CoalitionGwendolyn Clemons from The Unleashed Voice, Memphis; Ray Holloman
  • Reproductive Justice and the Opioid Epidemic in Tennessee
    Room: AWC Auditorium
    We defeated the fetal assault law in 2016, but there are still many misperceptions about pregnancy and drug use. What policies do we need to reduce opioid use among pregnant women and people? What is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)? Is detox safe during pregnancy? Are treatment options adequate in Tennessee? This panel will answer these questions and more. Speakers: Mary-Linden Salter from Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug and Other Addiction ServicesAmber Khan from National Advocates for Pregnant WomenCarrie Eisert from Amnesty International's Criminalization of Sexuality and Reproduction Project; and Cherisse ScottSisterReach.  
  • Storytelling for Advocacy and Culture Shift
    Room: Training Room 1
    This panel will cover why it's important to talk about our experience with abortion and how it can change minds and eventually even policies. Some panelists will describe their journeys from patients to advocates and how speaking out has impacted their lives. We will also hear about efforts to increase storytelling in Tennessee and how to get involved. Speakers: Francie HuntTennessee Stories Project and Tennessee Advocates for Planned ParenthoodAmelia Bonow #ShoutYourAbortionPoppy Liu, Director of the film Names of Women.
  • The Importance of Centering People of Color in Birth Work
    Room: Training Room 2
    Women of color fare worse than white women in every aspect of reproductive health. Eliminating racial disparities in birth outcomes requires culturally-competent, evidence-based, comprehensive and cost-efficient midwifery, maternity-care, and postpartum models. This panel will discuss efforts across the state to increase women of color who do birth work and to increase access to these services for communities of color. Speakers: Kristin Mejia from #exBREASTyourself, Nashville; Nikia Grayson, nurse and midwife at CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproductive HealthTerri Lee-Johnson, Founder and Executive Director of Birth Strides, and Monique Weeks from M*Body Options Perinatal Support Services in Chattanooga. 

Breakouts #3 Saturday October 28th 3:00-4:10 PM

  • The Importance of Civic Engagement to Progressive Movements, & How to do it Effectively
    Room: 354
    Tennessee ranks 50th in voter turnout. How can community organizers and activists connect our issue-based advocacy to the election of candidates who will support our platforms? This panel will discuss an array of issues including the importance of the Black vote, how nonprofits who are restricted from candidate endorsements can still participate in election-related activities, how to do Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effectively so you aren't just registering new voters, but also turning them out on election day; and how progressive organizations can work together statewide with CivicTN to increase voter registration and turnout. SpeakersTequila JohnsonThe Equity AllianceRonnie Pawelko, of Bolder Advocacy an initiative of Alliance for Justice; Elizabeth Henderson, The Wilderness Society and New Leaders Council; Kelley Elliott of CivicTN and  
  • Bail Reform in Tennessee: Why It's Needed & Recent Local Activism to End Cash Bail
    Room: Training Room 1
    On any given day, a full fifth of the U.S. jail population - 450,000 people - are awaiting trial. Hundreds of thousands of Americans go to jail without being convicted of a crime because jurisdictions across the country rely on money bail to determine who goes free before trial. Research shows that the assignment of bail makes defendants 12% more likely to be convicted. This panel will discuss why cash bail is unjust, what needs to change, and what is happening in Tennessee to make it happen. Speakers: Gicola Lane, Just City & Nashville Community Bail Fund; Dawn Deaner, Metro Public Defender for Davidson County; Erica Perry, Black Lives Matter Memphis; Dawn Harrington, Free Hearts.
  • Rural Organizing in Tennessee
    Room: Training Room 2
    If progressives want to gain power in Tennessee, we can't focus only on urban constituencies. Come learn about best practices in rural organizing. Speakers include both people who live in rural areas and organize there and people from statewide organizations who do rural outreach. Speakers: Pamela Weston, Healthy and Free Tennessee; Walter DavisTennessee Health Care CampaignMichael CoffeyPFLAG Athens, TNBill FreemanMcMinn County, TN IndivisibleJoyce Washington, NW Tennessee Community Organizer. Moderated by: Aftyn BehnTennessee Justice Center.

Breakouts #4 Sunday October 29th 9:50-11:00 AM

  • Grassroots Radical Care Collectives: How to Get Started
    Room: 354
    Our communities are often lacking the support networks we need. Childcare collectives allow for great inclusivity in our movements. Doula collectives can advocate for and support women and people who are facing reproductive choices. Come learn about how these grassroots, volunteer-run groups started and how to start a collective in your own town. Speakers: Phuong NguyenM.A.R.C.H. Memphis Advocates for Radical ChildcareSarah Johnson-BarnettCHOICES Full Spectrum Doula CollectiveLauren Mitchell, Co-Founder, Trans Buddy Program Nashville and Co-Founder, The Doula Project NYC.
  • When Work and Family Collide: How We Can Better Support Tennessee's Families
    Room: Training Room 1 
    This panel will discuss policies in Tennessee that we have and that we need to help families, including paid sick leave and family leave, flexible work, pay equity, and policies that combat discrimination based on pregnancy and family status. What work do we still need to do in Tennessee so that people don't have to choose between providing for their families and caring for them? Speakers: Freda Player of SEIU Local 205Elizabeth Gedmark from A Better Balance; Chris Sanders, Mayor's Council on Gender Equity, Nashville.
  • Demystifying State Legislation: How it Works and How to Influence it
    Room: Training Room 2
    The state legislative process can be intimidating and it's not always clear how to plug in. But we need more regular people engaging and working to influence the outcome. This panel will help simplify and demystify the legislative process so that you feel more confident taking part. Speakers: Danielle Johns, Policy Director Advocates for Women's and Kids' Equality (AWAKE)Brenda Gadd, Hancock & Gadd Public Strategies; Beth Joslin Roth, Policy Director The Safe Tennessee Project.

Breakouts #5 Sunday October 29th 11:10 AM-12:20 PM

  • Building the Progressive Bench in TN: Recruiting, Training, Funding, & Running Progressive Leaders
    Room: 354
    In addition to organizing and crafting good policy, the progressive movement also needs to elect candidates who support our issues. This panel will discuss the various ways people are organizing around the state to create better candidates and to train progressives on what it takes to run a campaign. Speakers: Eric Brown, New Leaders Council; London Lamar, Tennessee Young Democrats; Sarah McCall, Women for Tennessee's Future.
  • Fighting the Confederacy in Tennessee
    Room: Training Room 1
    This panel will discuss recent efforts to remove Confederate symbols from public parks and buildings including Take 'Em Down 901 in Memphis, #BustTheBust of Nathan Bedford Forrest in the state capitol, and efforts in Chattanooga to remove a statue of Confederate Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart from outside the front of the Hamilton County courthouse. Speakers: Tami Sawyer Take 'Em Down 901, Memphis; Beth Foster, Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center, Chattanooga; Dixon Irene, Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) Nashville.


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