Local activist wins Democratic nomination: ‘This is the work of our community’

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis native Tami Sawyer won the Democratic nomination for County Commission district 7 Tuesday night. On Wednesday, she took time to reflect on a big year for the local activist who led the grassroots movement TakeEmDown901.

“The first call was for a community meeting where 350 people came out to a middle school gym and talked about why they wanted the statues removed," Sawyer said.

From there, petitions and protests culminated in the Confederate statues coming down last December.

It also opened doors for national exposure like in Huffington Post and CNN.

"There was a mix, a myriad, of emotion. I just felt, ‘This is our work. This is the work of our community. There’s so much other work to do,'" Sawyer said.

That included running for office as a Shelby County Commissioner. She got one step closer to her goal Tuesday night by winning the nomination for district 7, a diverse area including parts of Midtown, Binghampton, Frayser and North Memphis.

She used Broad Avenue, where many of the 30 businesses are locally owned by women and minorities, as an example of what she wants to accomplish in the rest of her district.

"To me Broad Avenue is a model of what we can do when we create hyper-local investments. It could happen on National, it could happen in Klondike," Sawyer said. "When I look at Broad I'm always thinking, 'How can I take this and recreate it elsewhere so that it serves the people and neighborhoods who don’t have access and transportation to get to Broad Avenue but don’t own a bike shop or might want to own a clothing store or coffee shop?'"

She said she also supported causes like expanding MATA, instituting wrap-around services for Shelby County students and increasing health-care access.

"I'm committed to the work of equity. I want to see people who look like me, people who represent other marginalized identities, have the opportunities we deserve," she said.

Sawyer will face Republican Sam Goff in the general election. Goff called Sawyer a "formidable opponent" with an "energized base" and said he looked forward to discussing the issues with her in the community.