Something needs done to help Franklin’s poor

Published 9:25 am Friday, February 15, 2013

by Thomas H. Councill Jr.

Franklin Mayor Raystine Ashburn and Councilwoman Mary Hilliard have had years of opportunities to speak for the poor black women who live in the slums of southside Franklin.

But they have never put forth a recommendation, a motion, a plan, or proposal to enrich these women, and economically uplift their families.

However they do raise taxes, jack up fees, boot cars, pay city recreation staff too much for too little service, while smiling for the cameras and taking bows for keeping their council seats warm.

I recently attended a meeting where city consultant, Brian Reagan, gave a presentation on census tract comparisons that revealed many troubling facts.

Mr. Reagan pointed out that the:

• Southside has a much younger population than the northside with a 92 percent black population on the south.

• Some 22 percent on the southside had traditional married families.

• On the southside, 37 percent of households are female-headed compared to the 14 percent on the northside. Almost 20 percent have children under 18.

• Some 34 percent of the southside housing stock consists of owner-occupied housing with 66 percent renter occupied; $669 is paid monthly for housing on the southside.

• Based on data, 41 percent of monthly income is being used for housing needs on the southside. He further added that by state standards, owner/occupants should be paying no more than 25 percent of the household monthly income for mortgages and no more than 35 percent maximum for renters.

• The median income on the northside is more than $54,000 and the median income for the southside is $19,628.

• Two out of every three children on the southside, under age 18, is below the poverty line.

Ashburn and Hilliard are the de factor leaders of the political alliance that runs this city. And as black women with power, they should be doing all they can to help other black women prosper.

We must convince Ashburn and Hilliard to change Franklin’s schools and recreation department. We must not tolerate Franklin’s economic conditions that restrict the opportunities for children.

In my opinion the best way to convince both to address the needs of the black female-headed households of the southside is for us to seek candidates to compete for their power.

We must remember what Frederick Douglas said about power; power concedes nothing without a demand. Demand fairness for southside black women.

THOMAS H. COUNCILL JR. is vice chairman of the Franklin Parks and Recreation Advsiory Committee and can be reached at