THE BACK STORY
In 2003, North Nashville resident Clemmie Greenlee founded Nashville Peacemakers after losing her only son Rodriguez in a gang-related shooting. She herself had only recently been rescued from a world of drugs, violence and prostitution by the Magdalene recovery program (supported by Charlotte Avenue-based Thistle Farms). It all began with her enslavement by sex traffickers at age 12.
Nashville Peacemakers was established as a 501(c)3 nonprofit that initially focused on HIV prevention and education, and advocating for Nashville's homeless, but quickly shifted to a street-based mission of curtailing violence in the community, particularly among young black men.
Clemmie has personally received numerous awards for her life-changing work, including being named 2007 Nashvillian of the Year by the Nashville Scene and receiving a Soros Justice Fellowship grant for a community center where kids could safely have fun, make music, learn basic like skills, and receive tutoring in reading and science.
In 2012, Clemmie temporarily relocated to New Orleans to help Thistle Farms founder Becca Stevens establish Eden House, a shelter for victims of sex trafficking. Most of her return trips to Nashville were spent at candlelight vigils and ministering to hurting moms. After her straight-A nephew was accidentally shot while playing with a gun, she decided to return to Nashville full-time in 2015 to redouble her efforts to end the bloodshed.
Nashville Peacemakers Today
Three programs are the pillars of Nashville Peacemakers today: Back to Basics (for girls) and Straight Talk (for boys) giving youth in distressed neighborhoods basic life skills and self-worth, and the M.O.M. support group for mothers recovering from the murders of their children. But this only begins to describe the “unconditional love” we offer individuals who have rarely, if ever, experienced such selflessness before.
Nashville Peacemakers shows up for kids having difficulties at school and work without a responsible parent at home to guide them. We celebrate birthdays, graduations and movie nights with youth so they can experience simple joys that are not always for someone else. We avert crisis, on a daily basis, by intervening with counseling—if necessary, into the wee hours of morning—and provide a place of escape, rest, feeding and referral. We go into neighborhoods no one visits on purpose, with food for the hungry, personal hygiene supplies for the homeless, and programs for those who have not yet been caught up in the deadly false promises of a gang.
We are different of purpose, because breaking the cycle of violence—and the poverty and hopelessness that feed it—requires unconventional tactics.
Warner Brothers Television recognized this, and on behalf of Swedish Public Television sent a film crew to Nashville in May 2017 to capture our Founder & CEO Clemmie Greenlee in action.
Lonnell Matthews (Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement) recognized this, and started building recording studios for Nashville Peacemakers in neighborhoods across Nashville to replace the false allure of the street with real possibilities in the music business.
And now a new partnership is being forged with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Davidson County Sheriff's Office to bring Nashville Peacemaker's “Straight Talk” program into area prisons, to lower the recidivism rate among young men who need help transitioning from incarceration to peaceful and productive life choices.
The Present Reality
In Nashville's low-income neighborhoods, violence is an everyday fact of life. Gangs recruit the young, stealing their childhood and, often, their life—creating a public health issue for all Nashvillians. Homicide is today the No. 1 cause of death among African-American boys ages 10-24.
Nashville Peacemakers is working to raise children on truth, giving them a vision for their future before they are lost forever.