- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015
Students urged to ‘make their voices heard’ for civil rights

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) - Two leading figures of the American civil rights movement urged university students Thursday to “make their voices heard” on issues of justice and equality, 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was signed into law.

The Rev. James Lawson and the Rev. C.T. Vivian spoke at Middle Tennessee State University about the challenges that remain a half-century after the landmark legislation was signed in 1965.

“What we’re talking about is how you make it possible that your voice is really heard,” Vivian told an audience in a packed auditorium, still speaking with the fiery passion he was known for during the civil rights movement. “This is what made the movement; our voice was really heard. But it didn’t happen by accident; we made certain it was heard.”

Lawson said the movement five decades ago had cohesiveness and strove to speak with one voice. He and Vivian encouraged the students to do likewise.

“The 21st century needs similar campaigns to correct the horrible things that are happening to fellow Americans across our land,” said Lawson, who also spoke passionately.

Mia Griggs, a 20-year-old public relations major at MTSU, said it was inspiring “to actually hear them, those who were pivotal in the struggle for voting rights.” Griggs, who registered to vote at a booth outside the auditorium, added, “It makes you want to be active. We can all preach it, but who’s going to do the actions?”

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Christian conservatives rally for religious awakening

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Hundreds of people cheered the husband of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis during a rally of Christian conservatives Thursday outside the Tennessee Capitol.

The celebration of Constitution Day was sponsored by the Tennessee Pastors Network and also drew Rafael Cruz, a pastor and the father of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican and presidential candidate.

Speaking of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision effectively legalizing same-sex marriage, Cruz said, “The devil overplayed his hand.”

He said the country needs to elect a constitutional conservative as president, and suggested that Christian conservatives will be roused to action by the ruling.

“We’ve been silent too long,” he said.

“Religious persecution ends in January 2017,” he said.

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Haslam: No ‘bias’ toward outsourcing building management

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Republican Gov. Bill Haslam insisted Thursday that he has no “bias” toward privatizing state government activities.

Haslam told reporters that any decision is still months away on whether to proceed with outsourcing building management at the state’s colleges and universities, prisons, armories or parks. Haslam said his aim is simply to find ways to save money, and that criticism of his administration exploring outsourcing is misplaced.

“Everybody thinks, well, Haslam has some bias toward privatizing. I really don’t,” he said. “My only bias is how are we going to run this the very best we can for the very lowest amount of money.”

In some recent instances, the state has moved to take over some areas that had previously been outsourced, Haslam said. For example, the Transportation Department recently moved some engineering functions back in house, and the Tourism Department has stopped outsourcing some marketing activities.

A team of seven staffers and contractors are working on outsourcing scenarios in an office of Haslam’s administration called Strategies for Efficiency in Real Estate Management. They carry titles like director of facilities management outsourcing and director for alternative workplace solutions.

But the existence of that office doesn’t mean the plans will necessarily move forward, Haslam said.

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He? She? Ze? Universities add gender pronouns, alter policy

BOSTON (AP) - Welcome to Harvard. Feel free to pick a gender pronoun on this form: __ He. __ She. __ Ze. __ E. __ They.

During the registration process at Harvard University, students are now allowed to indicate which pronouns they use, with suggested gender-neutral options like “ze” or “they.” Harvard isn’t the first college to embrace gender-neutral pronouns, but it’s among a wave of major institutions that are widening their policies and pronouns to acknowledge transgender students, as well as “genderqueer” students, who don’t identify as male or female.

“If someone is being alienated or potentially outed by inappropriate gender references, we think that’s not appropriate,” said Michael Burke, registrar of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

American University posted a guide on its website explaining how to use pronouns like “ey,” and how to ask someone which pronouns they use. Cornell University and MIT offer similar primers on their websites. Ohio University started letting students register their gender pronouns this year, and officials at Boston University said they’re discussing the topic. Last week, the State University of New York, one of the nation’s largest public college systems, announced that it’s working on a data-collection tool to let students choose among seven gender identities, including “trans man,” ”questioning” and “genderqueer.”

Advocates for transgender students applaud the changes, saying it can be insulting to be identified by the wrong pronoun.

“It feels really invalidating to have people make an assumption about what your gender is simply by looking at you,” said Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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