MEET MARQUITA BRADSHAW
Why I am Running...
My name is Marquita Bradshaw, and I am a candidate for United States Senate for Tennessee. I am a single working-class mother of a son, who is finishing technical college. I grew up in a working-class neighborhood in South Memphis. My childhood home was next door to my great grandmother who we affectionately called Ma’ Dear. I was surrounded by family. My dad was an iron worker and my mom worked at the bank. My two brothers shared a room with bunk beds. I shared a room with my three sisters who had bunk beds, but they still migrated to my full size bed by morning.
Growing up in our working class neighborhood there were so many small businesses - a florist, bank, grocery stores, fresh produce store, shoe cobbler, bakery, drive- in theater, and local restaurants. Everything was in walking distance. There were several parks and about 17 nearby schools. Down the street from our elementary school and junior high school was the Army Defense Depot. My Ma’ Dear grew Most of the family fruits and vegetables in our backyard and her back yard. Usually at sunrise before school, my great grandfather Papa Starling, Uncle Mike, and I would help with the garden. Uncle Mike was Ma’ Dear and Papa’s bonus child that we received through foster care. Ma’ Dear and Papa provided transitional foster care services for many children. The days Papa Starling was not in the garden with us, he would be busy at the church as an elder or away on fishing or hunting trips. In high school my mom suffered an on the job back injury that took her out of the workforce. After her back surgery, she had to learn how to walk again. Because of this I had to assume a bigger role in the family. My mother taught me how to pay bills and balance the family finances. My Ma’Dear and Aunt Lossie taught me how to cook, clean, and helped with my siblings. My family and community were strong and full of love. I graduated high school and started college.
1995 was the year of the Base Closure Act which closed the Army Depot facility. That year I gave birth to my son, and my Ma’ Dear coached me through breastfeeding while she was dying of cancer. More people in my neighborhood died of cancer. Sickness and death became more prevalent in my community. After my Ma’ Dear and Papa Starling died, the Defense Depot Memphis TN- Concerned Citizen Committee (DDMT-CCC) was formed with over 2500 members by Doris Bradshaw (my mom), PTA parents from Norris Elementary, teachers, clergy, local small business owners, and professionals. My father, Kenneth,a brilliant writer, contributed greatly to the organization and served as the first project director. Over half the initial members died within a year due to illnesses related to the depot. Since Uncle Mike lost both his parents, we made a plan for Uncle Mike to be in our family’s care because he's an adult with autism.
The Army Defense Depot of Memphis was more than a storage and distribution center for the Army. It also served as a 640-acre landfill that operated with seven incinerators from 1945 until 1995. A landfill of any type of material that was disposed, compensated, or stockpiled from any war between 1945 to 1995. Some the most destructive chemicals used to kill vegetation and human beings were stored there. These chemicals polluted the air, soil, surface water, and ground water of my community. The landfill consisted of unknown and known materials of munitions, chemical warfare agents, germ warfare, nuclear weapons, and biological warfare materials. Of the many chemicals disposed, 395 were known to be linked with cancer. Other chemicals have been linked to strokes/ heart attacks, asthma, lung disease, birth defects, infertility, miscarriages, low sperm counts, kidney failure, neurological damage, infant mortality, rare and unusual cancers and the list goes on. This is where my advocacy work started on environmental policy and why I have centered my volunteer work around the environmental policy for over twenty years.
During the years I’ve experienced both the highs and lows of a working woman. I’ve worked for nonprofits and corporate america. I’ve had great jobs with a union contract. I have had jobs that had an employee handbook with daily changing memorandums without a voice for workers. Those union jobs had great pay, excellent health care, great working environments, and amazing people.
I’m still fighting through foreclosure/bankruptcy because a combination of circumstances. Once I didn’t have adequate health insurance, coupled with student loans, and experiencing unemployment/underemployment. I’ve been one job away from middle class. Along with these experiences and engaging people around labor, environment, education reform, tax reform, trade, and social justice policies. I know that I am ready to serve, engage, and represent the people of Tennessee.
I am running as a first time candidate for the United States Senate because I care about what happens in my community, and I care what happens to people in Tennessee. I have engaged people around voting, advocacy, and policy throughout my career. Many of these times we were reacting and responding to federal policies, especially when interacting with federal agencies around the remediation (clean-up) process. Now I want the opportunity to engage people to shape policy as your next Senator of the United States for Tennessee.
I am passionate about all communities across Tennessee being healthy and safe for living, learning, working, worshiping, and recreating. We have an opportunity to build a greater legacy. Working together we can address the truth of what Tennesseans are experiencing.
A legacy of policies that justly transition away from pollution for the environment that creates jobs. We can improve national security when we transition to cleaner technologies of energy and implement a plan to rapidly phase and scale up renewable sources of energy. A recycling and reuse supply chain can be strengthening to the economy and create jobs. Zero waste is possible by having complete life-cycle plans for products and a plan to decrease and eventually eliminate waste.
A legacy of policies that strengthen public education PreK- 12 that prepares students to be successful in higher education settings, in the workforce, and/or as entrepreneurs. We can create a legacy to make higher education debt a relic of the past.
A legacy of policies building an economy that works for working families.
A legacy that makes healthcare patient centered, accessible, and affordable with adequate facilities in urban and rural areas.
A legacy of criminal justice that utilizes restorative justice principles. A legacy that treats people with addiction with mental health services. A legacy that after people serve their time voting rights can be restored and people can re enter the workforce.
The election is in 2020, and I am starting now engaging voters - canvassing to hear what’s important to them - sharing my story and – informing a platform for the environment, education, and an economy that works for working families. With your help we can build a greater legacy of healthy and safe communities.
Let us work together to have healthy,and safe communities across Tennessee. Join the team today.