SOCM began in 1971, under the leadership of J.W. Bradley who sought fair taxation of absentee land corporations. They appealed to the Tennessee government, and won their first battle. Bolstered by their success, the organization then hoped to help local communities with other issues they encountered. These prominently included fighting against strip mining in the area primarily against Amax Coal Company who had secured a grant to mine the area. SOCM fought for the rights of land owners who at the time had little protection against mineral extraction on their properties. Achieving much these first few years, SOCM then voted to support many other issues besides coal-mining. Since then much of their work has involved working with African-American organizations to dismantle racism, fair taxation, and has continued its fight against coal. In the last decade fight against Mountaintop Removal (MTR) strip mining. Since changing its name to better match its work, to Statewide Organization for Community eMpowerment in 2008 the organization has been  “a powerful, multi-racial, statewide organization to work for economic, environmental and social justice issues in our local communities, our state, and our nation.”

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  • East Tennessee Research Corporation (ETRC)

    Profile: [Contributed by John Williams and Neil McBride, September 2015.] As the members of the Student Health Coalition and the Vanderbilt Center for Health Services began working with health clinics, SOCM, the Tennessee Black Lung Association and other community-based organizations … Continued

  • Irwin Venick

    Profile: Contributed by Irwin Venick, May 2016 I arrived in Nashville, Tennessee on a hot, humid day in August 1971 not really knowing what to expect. One thing for sure was that I was not in Kansas (meaning for me, … Continued

  • Cindy Lutenbacher

    [Contributed by Cindy Lutenbacher, September 2015] I was born in Shreveport, LA, in 1953, but I lived in cities all over the South.  New Orleans is my family home, even though only one cousin still lives there now.  I think of … Continued

  • Marie Cirillo

    [Contributed by John Emmeus Davis, 2015] Marie Cirillo was born in Brooklyn in 1929.  Her father had emigrated from rural Italy.  Her mother had grown up in a small Catholic community in central Kentucky.  Every summer, her mother returned to … Continued

Related Stories:

  • Maureen and Boomer on the Coalitions Legacy

    On SOCM, tax equalization, and “getting to the roots of problems and not just providing services.”

  • Mo & Boomer

    On strip mining, community organization, and “[having] fun while trying to change the world.” Interview with Maureen O’Connell and Charles “Boomer” Winfrey, recorded at a May 2013 reunion of the Student Health Coalition in Nashville, Tennessee.  

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