Throughout Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment's 40-year history, achievements have been made across Tennessee in the areas of social, economic and environmental justice. From enacting fair legislation to empowering Tennessee people to improve living conditions in rural and urban areas, SOCM progress has become a symbol of Tennessee culture that continues to impact the state today.
A few of the organization's highlighted successes include the following:
- Documented land ownership and taxation patterns in 16 coalfield counties and passed legislation to enact the first coal severance tax in Tennessee, generating revenue for schools and roads in coalfield counties.
- Work with allies that led to the passage of state and federal strip mine legislation.
- Passed legislation requiring surface owners consent before coal surface mining where minerals are separated from the surface.
- Through numerous local organizing campaigns, defeated proposed mining operations, toxic waste incinerators, mega-regional solid waste landfills, and other developments that would impact the health and safety of communities and pollute the state’s land and water.
- Won designation of 61,000 acres in the watershed of Fall Creek Falls State Park as off-limits to mining in toxic coal seams underlying the area.
- Defeated numerous bills in the state legislature that would have weakened state water quality regulations and enforcement.
- Working to pressure the Tennessee Valley Authority to do an Environmental Impact Study and suspend plans for mining on its 53,000-acre mineral tract in Tennessee.
- Successful in getting the Bedford County Head Start Program to expand its services, winning a new building for the Shelbyville Head Start, an early childhood education center, and additional funding for the expanding Spanish-speaking community. The chapter succeeded in getting the South Central Human Resource Agency (SCHRA) to employ a bilingual resource person to work with Head Start's Spanish-speaking children and parents.
- Helped form The Alliance for Appalachia to develop a regional voice against mountaintop removal mining and to promote a federal bill, the Clean Water Protection Act, to stop valley fills and stop mountaintop removal mining.
- Helped organize Citizens Lead on Energy Action Now (CLEAN), a new national coalition working to involve grassroots people in pressing for a national clean energy future and addressing the problem of global warming.
- Worked with Tennesseans for Fair Taxation to win first decrease in state sales tax on food.
- Successfully pressured the state to require aerial sprayers to notify law enforcement agencies before spraying.
- Introduced Community Unity Night, an event co-sponsored by The Welcoming Tennessee Initiative of Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and El Centro Latino. The event helped to usher in SOCM's ongoing immigrant rights campaign work.
- Co-hosted a People's Hearing for coal ash regulation in Harriman, Tenn., providing victims of the 2008 TVA coal ash spill opportunity to testify. The event led to EPA's scheduling of a Knoxville hearing to consider a hazardous regulation for coal ash.
- Engaged in a multi-year campaign for a fair and just redevelopment process for East Jackson, a low-income African-American community severely damaged by a tornado in 2003, which resulted in the city allocating significant funds towards its redevlopment. Plans include cityscapre planning, roads improvement and parks development.
- Successfully campaigned to have two species of minnows, the Laurel Dace and Cumberland Darter, added to the Federal Endangered Species List. The victory helps SOCM members continue to fight to protect water quality in the coalfields.