U.S. Senatorial candidate Marquita Bradshaw paid a virtual visit to the Hamilton County JFK Club on Tuesday afternoon, saying her campaign is the first in Tennessee to be based upon environmental justice.
As an organizer for decades, Ms. Bradshaw said she has experience in creating change in her Memphis community, which has several Superfund sites that harm the health of many residents.
“The state of Tennessee has over 1,100 Superfund sites, and just because a site is archived doesn’t mean that it’s safe for human or environmental health,” Ms. Bradshaw said. “How do 220 of those end up in a city in Shelby County? I remember losing so many of my family and friends over the years to cancer, sickness and death. The chemicals there were in a residential community, and it was made to kill people and plants very effectively.”
“I have been an organizer for over 25 years in the background, being a single mom and trying to make it out of poverty. Once I made it out of poverty, I had to have a surgery, and it was an A-20 plan and it thrust me back into poverty again. Our healthcare system was not working then, and it’s not working now.”
Her grassroots-focused approach to campaigning saw her win the Democratic nomination in Tennessee, despite raising less than $10,0000 in the first quarter of 2020.
“I utilize all those things I was taught about union organizing and environmental justice principles, and let those lead the type of campaign we launched back in 2019,” she said. “Environmental justice principles say that those who are closest to the pain should have a voice in solving the problem.”
“I’m not a U.S. Senator that says “Look at my billboard and vote for me” or “Look at the sign and vote for me.” I’m going in the community and I’m saying I want to be your U.S. Senator, how can I serve you and how can federal policies affecting your daily life? The best leaders lead by listening. That’s what got us here, and that’s what is going to take us to the final goal of securing the general and flipping this U.S. Senate seat.”
Aside from environmental issues, Ms. Bradshaw said responding to COVID-19, as well as creating more affordable healthcare, is a focus of her campaign and policies if elected.
“Right now, we have teachers going into classrooms where masks are optional in certain counties,” she said. “That is concerning. People deserve healthy and safe communities where they live, learn, work, worship, and recreate. No matter if they’re in Shelby county in south Memphis, or in Chattanooga in Hamilton County.”
She said that while COVID-19 is the center of attention at the moment, the pandemic also exposed other sicknesses embedded in American society. Rather than attempting to get back to how things once were, she advocated for trying to progress after COVID-19 passes.
“COVID-19 ripped the band aid off a wound that needed 400 years of stitches. We had a pandemic of people without healthcare, a pandemic of racism, and a pandemic of poverty already existing,” she declared.
“We can’t go back to the normal they want us to go to, because that’s not our destiny. We can be greater working together and I am here to serve you, and not get disconnected. The data we are collecting now from the people will be our marching orders when I get to D.C.”
She closed out her presentation by making a call for unity, not just within the Democratic party, but also extending her invitation to conservatives.
“We know this “Blue Wave” is coming, and the vision we have for Tennessee is inclusive for everyone. We welcome people, whether they are Republicans, Socialists, Democrats, or Independents, to join this wave. This is what it is going to take for us to turn the page where we have an America that is built for everybody.”
Ms. Bradshaw will face Republican nominee Bill Hagerty in the Nov. 3 election to replace Lamar Alexander.