On Monday, the NAACP and United Auto Workers donated $5,100 to Mason to assist with the ongoing budget repayment. Above, vice mayor Virginia Rivers, Tennessee NAACP president Gloria Sweet-Love, UAW Thomas Savage, financial consultant Rhonda Hughey, and mayor Emmitt Gooden. Photo by Echo Day

On Monday night the NAACP and United Auto Workers union donated money to help Mason with its utility fund repayment efforts. 

“It’s good to see you’re making progress on doing great things for your town,” Tennessee State Conference NAACP President Gloria Sweet-Love said. “We have said from the beginning we will stand with you and we will continue to do that.” 

Sweet-Love said partnerships and coalitions are important when making towns and organizations work. 


The UAW’s Thomas Savage of Cookeville presented the $5,100 check, telling Mason’s elected officials that even though UAW’s members were not yet on the ground working at Blue Oval City, they were supporting Mason. 

“They came through,” he said. “They’re not here yet, but they’re here. When labor and great organizations, like the NAACP, and like-minded folks like we’re talking about today … that’s how you get a civil rights movement.”

In February, state comptroller Jason Mumpower visited and encouraged the town to surrender its charter after years of financial mismanagement. City leaders said the state was targeting a majority Black town in the midst of new industry coming in with Blue Oval City, which began a months-long course correction discussion with the state. 

The town estimated as of June 30, 2021, the general fund and the gas fund collectively owed the water and sewer fund $598,019. They used $227,000 in American Recovery Plan Act funds to begin repayment and have been making monthly payments since May. 

In addition to ARPA and Monday’s donation, UAW donated $5,100 this spring and a GoFundMe raised approximately $17,000 to help with repaying the funds. 

“Mason matters and that’s the subject and it does matter,” Savage said. “We want you to know that the UAW does not do a drive-by in your community. We’re here and we want you to know about us even before they pour the footing.” 

Mason’s city leaders will host a town hall event on Saturday, from 1-3 p.m. at Cedar Grove Baptist Church, to update citizens on the financial situation. 

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.