Black Caucus hosts poverty symposium in Jackson
JACKSON, Tenn. — State lawmakers gathered Friday in Jackson to shine a light on poverty. The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators organized the symposium. Speakers discussed how poverty relates to health care, the economy and education. Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, said he would like to see Medicaid expansion and pre-K across the state. “That’s very important that we start our kids early,” he said. Lawmakers said 17 percent of the state and one in four Tennessee children live in poverty. People attending the symposium said they are interested in legislation that would help families. “It’s kind of refreshing to know that you can have real conversations about solutions that not only impact the day-to-day life of Tennesseans but also piloting opportunities to really help the rest of the country,” George Thomas, an attendee, said. Lawmakers said they hope to take information from the symposium back to Nashville. “Educate ourselves to make us aware of what the issues are and how we can combat this issue and set our legislative agenda for 2016,” Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, said. Shaw said they hope to pass laws that will help end poverty. “We just want to see Tennessee be a better place for everybody, all of our citizens,” he said. Lawmakers do not go back into session until after the first of the year. The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators hopes to have more symposiums like this in the future.