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February – May 31, 2013, East Wing Gallery & Rotunda
On loan from the Special Collections Division of the Nashville Public Library, this exhibition includes a selection of photographs that capture some of the drama during a time when thousands of African-American citizens in Nashville sparked a nonviolent challenge to racial segregation in the city and across the South.
A handful of courageous parents and their first-grade children led the way in 1957, desegregating five Nashville public schools under a court order in accord with the Supreme Court’s historic declaration that the segregation laws were no longer valid.
Then in 1960, a group of young Nashville college students and community members organized sit-ins, city marches, and an effective downtown store boycott that led to the desegregation of public accommodations in the city. Nashville was a principal training ground for some of the nation’s most influential leaders in the civil rights movement, many of whom were schooled in the techniques of nonviolent protest. The Nashville protests came to serve as models for later protests throughout the South, and its leaders went on to make pivotal contributions to the success of the civil rights movement, including the Freedom Rides of 1961, the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Student Organizing Committee, historic protests in Selma, Alabama, and the 1963 March on Washington.
This exhibit includes photographs from the Nashville Banner Archives (1957-1960) and rarely seen photographs taken by Harold Lowe, Jr. for the Tennessean newspaper (1960-1964). The collection also includes a photo taken by Dickson resident Don Foster.
Website for Nashville Public Library Civil Rights Collection:
Description: A crowd of over 4,000 participants marched in silence from the campus of Tennessee A & I State University to the office of Mayor Ben West to protest the bombing of Z. Alexander Looby’s home.
Credit: A crowd of over 4,000 participants marched in silence April 19, 1960 Photograph by Don Foster Nashville Banner Archives Nashville Public Library, Special Collections Division
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