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Civil Rights

From Metro Archives Photos - Metro Council member, Thelma Harper

The world lost an extraordinary woman on April 22nd, 2021, when former State Senator Thelma Harper passed away. After making history by becoming the first African American female elected to the State Senate, her work of shattering ceilings was far from over. Here's a look back at her impressive career and generous life. 

whoever you are

Looking for new favorites that support early reading skills like rhyme, repetition, colors, and numbers? Here is a list of books with diverse representation and inclusive themes for a young audience. 

New Era clipping from April 7th, 1870 in celebration of the ratification of the 15th Amendment

The phrase "voting rights" encompasses a LOT of history, even when narrowed to the history of voting rights in Tennessee. While I wish I could write a blog post that includes all the important gains and struggles of voting rights in this state, instead, I'm narrowing it to a few highlights, starting with noting the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment. 

The world knew Reverend C.T. Vivian and U.S. Rep John Lewis  as giants. But, before they were icons, they were young men beginning a journey in Nashville. 

We celebrate and remember what Reverend C.T. Vivian and U.S. Rep. John Lewis did for Nashville and for Nashville Public Library.

Ad from the Nashville Globe newspaper for Dr. Josie E. Wells

Since we're closed, here's a virtual tour of Metro Archives' current exhibit of "Nashville Voices - 36 Notable Women of Nashville", as it's finished right now. And discussing one of the recently added women in the display - Dr. Josie E. Wells...maybe a couple more individuals as I continue working

Ronald Wimberly has gathered and presents quotes from a dozen black luminaries in mutliple fields. He provides illustrations of each person, some background information, and their most memorable quotes.

Born in rural Kenya and educated in the United States, Wangari Maathai was the first woman in East Africa to earn a doctoral degree, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and is the founder of the Green Belt Movement. Her incredible story is the subject of several picture book biographies for children.

The Nashville Room has a small exhibit of photographs to celebrate the availability of a new collection documenting the activities of the YWCA Blue Triangle Branch. Come see our resources!

The 28 days of February will never be enough to highlight the full depth and breadth of black history in the United States and around the world. Picture books are an ideal (and beautiful) way, however, to address the gaps in our knowledge of the contributions of African Americans to History writ large.

Exploring the holdings of Main Library’s Special Collections, I stumbled upon a local figure I hadn’t heard of before—Robert Churchwell. Hired by the Nashville Banner in 1950, Churchwell was the first black journalist and full-time reporter for a Southern newspaper.

It's been 50 years this month since the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., yet his actions and teachings have lived on every day since. Coincidentally, the date of his actual birthday this year was celebrated on the same day of the holiday honoring him. In honor of his legacy, here's a look back at how his work affected Nashville...

Rashad "thaPoet" Rayford shares his reading list for those who wish to further explore activism and civil rights in literature.

Though November marks the last month of his life, May of this year would have marked JFK's 100th birthday; May 29th to be exact. In honor of this milestone, here's a look back at a few of President Kennedy's visits to Nashville, as well as a few anecdotes from people that remember the day he died.

Going on 60 years ago, Nashville followed suit with the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, and began a "stair-step" plan to integrate public schools. But it wasn't without difficulty or a strong pushback.

In honor of African American History Month, I'm recognizing the first African American woman elected to the Tennessee State Senate—Senator Thelma Harper of District 19. Prior to her 1991 historic election to the State Senate, Harper served 8 years on Davidson County's Metro Council.  

December 10th is Human Rights Day and the library has the information to help you answer "What is that?"

The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom called on the United States to hold to its promise of freedom and justice for all, not just for the few. Though we have come far, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of freedom and equality, proclaimed that day, remains to be fully realized. The books below are a good place for preschoolers and other young children to begin learning about the March on Washington, MLK, Jr., and the Civil Rights Movement.

Dr. Bernard Lafayette and Dr. C.T. Vivian visted Nashville Public Library to discuss how the ideas and practices from the summer of 1964 still echo today. Selected excerpts from the award winning film Freedom Summer by Stanley Nelson were part of the conversation.

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is a film about the history of the Black Panther Party containing rare archival footage and interviews with the people who were a part of it, including members Kathleen Cleaver, Emory Douglas, Ericka Huggins, and Jamal Joseph. 

Watching the new movie Selma was like seeing Nashville's Civil Rights "All Stars": James Bevel, Diane Nash, C.T. Vivian, John Lewis, Bernard LaFayette are all depicted in the film.