In the eastern corner of Tennessee, a tiny Black town forgotten by its state but not by its people continues survive, but now its finally in line to thrive. The area named Mason is a majority Black township of about 1,500 people. Its been Black owned for nearly 200 years and has a plurality of Black leadership.
Mason being a small town with relatively little tax revenue to work with lacks infrastructural improvements needed to enhance the life of it’s residents. Its political leaders including its sitting Mayor Emmit Gooden have advocated for state assistance for years but have been utterly ignored.
“We had 1 of our sons who works as a cop in Memphis now go down to the state legislature to see if they had read any of the letters that we had sent to hall or chamber. And he basically said that they were ignoring them.” said Marissa Alexander, a 30-year resident of Mason.
There may have been attempts to ignore Mason out of existence but now it’s getting renewed attention thanks to its strategic location. Mason is located within five miles of the future site of Blue Oval City, a mega sized manufacturing development project sponsored by Ford Motor company. The electric truck and battery plant will be built on the 6 square-mile track just west of Mason.
Ford’s $7 billion investment in the facility is considered the largest ever manufacturing investment at one time by any automotive manufacturer in the U.S.
B1Daily’s very own financial expert Michael Lyles confirmed that the town of Mason stands to benefit hugely from Ford’s move.
“We’re talking 35,000 plus jobs being created in a matter of 2 years all of which will be located within walking distance from Black residents who’ve been systematically starved by the majority white legislature in Nashville.” Lyles said.
“Within the next 5 years the development could bring in 30 million in state tax revenue alone, and that’s without talking about a potential expansion into Mason instead of its surrounding areas.”
While Black progress may seem inevitable, a white supremacist comptroller in Tennessee has another idea in mind.
Tennessee Comptroller Jason Mumpower stated on last week that he intended to take control of the finances of Mason against the townships wishes. His reasoning; Mason is in poor financial shape. Which many consider to be a paradox caused by the resource deprivation initiated by white supremacist like Mumpower.
“In my opinion, it’s time for Mason to relinquish its charter,” Comptroller Jason Mumpower wrote in a letter mailed to each one of Mason’s 1,337 property owners.
But Black residents have no plans of bowing down to what they describe as “racist bullies.”
“This is our home. We were born and raised here. The majority of the town is homegrown people that live here,” Vice Mayor Virginia Rivers said. “He is trying to conquer and divide us. It’s akin to a hostile take-over and it’s not hard to figure out why here, why now.”
“It’s because of the Black people that are in office,” said Rivers “And it’s because of all the places in the world, Blue Oval could have selected, they selected here. There’s no way Mason won’t prosper and grow. And now they want to take it away from us.”
Many note that Mason has been paying its debts, most of which were created by white leadership who previously ran the town.
Mason’s Mayor and Board of Aldermen are suing under the premise that the Comptroller’s actions are illegal per state law. The “Comptroller does not have the power to take full control of Mason’s financial expenditures,” the suit claims.
“The state’s financial oversight plan also violates the Tennessee Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution “by trying to take over Mason’s finances without proper justification and because most of the town’s leadership and residents are African-American,” the lawsuit says.
The fact that the attempted takeover is being perpetuated now — rather than years ago, when Mason’s white leadership actually caused the financial issues complained of — demonstrates the (Comptroller’s) actions are inconsistent with typical government actions and (the Comptroller’s) own history of handling jurisdictions experiencing financial difficulties.” it reads.
–Barrington Williams, B1Daily