Mason, Tennessee, nearly lost the ability to govern itself after a Ford plant was announced nearby. But the small Black town of 1,600 pushed back. When Mason, Tennessee, faced losing its ability to govern its own finances in a fight with white state officials earlier this year, doing so brought a spotlight to the majority Black community of fewer than 1,600 people for a situation that town advocates called discriminatory.
For months, Mason battled for its own financial control after the town refused to give up its charter, prompting the state to formally take over its finances shortly after carmaker Ford announced a major project nearby. But in May, Mason officials dropped a lawsuit they brought to Tennessee’s Chancery Court against state officials, after agreeing to more favorable terms, signaling the lengthy feud between the town and the state over racial discrimination and autonomy is coming to an end.
The majority Black town, represented in court by the NAACP, announced during a press conference last month that it would regain its independence, while also reaping the benefits of the nearby economic development opportunity coming to the region. Now that the lawsuit has been dropped, the town will work to meet its financial obligations and continue paying off the debt. Mason will also move forward with investing in its infrastructure and economic development to bring business into the town for “Mason to be a beautiful place,” Rivers said.
“Hopefully, it doesn’t happen again,” she said. Because of the state’s correction action plan, the comptroller can exercise his financial authority if Mason gets “out of line at all in any way,” she said.
“But hopefully we don’t have to get to that point,” she added.