The Urban EpiCenter (Nashville-Davidson County, Tennessee) is an African-American-led grassroots organization that organizes and develops cross-cultural leadership throughout economically disadvantaged communities in middle Tennessee. Founded in 2007, Urban EpiCenter focuses on people not affiliated with the three traditional centers of power within the African-American community – Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the Black church or historic civil rights institutions.
The term, EpiCenter, describes the focal point of a disturbance or activity. The Urban EpiCenter believes that community organizing and direct action for racial and economic justice should be the focal points of social and political activity in Nashville. Further, they believe in a radical vision of democracy, which situates indigenous activists and poor and working-class people at the center (or EpiCenter) of grassroots initiatives.
With their $4,000 Bold Frontiers grant, Urban EpiCenter will bring together people to organize for living wage jobs, health care, public education, and against racial profiling. They are currently organizing parents and community members to reform punitive school discipline policies that push young men of color (particularly those with disabilities and social-emotional difficulties) out of public schools and into the juvenile prison system.
The Urban EpiCenter’s grant was funded by the Saguaro Fund.