Just like Nicole Taylor (pictured)
Fisk Jubilee Singers are a part of
African American history
Photo: AP/Nader Daoud
African Americans have a rich history in Nashville. The city’s largest ethnic group, 25% of the current population, has been impactful in many areas, establishing excellence in education, business, religion, politics, and music. In fact, Nashville is renowned as “Music City”, not because of country music, but because of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the international-performing and Grammy award-winning acappella gospel group, which has been performing continuously since the end of the Civil War.
Take your teen on a tour of some of Nashville’s famous African American historic sites. There is much to be discovered, right under their noses.Fisk University campus, located at 1000 17th Ave N between Charlotte and Jefferson, was founded in 1866 as a free school for blacks in Nashville. That’s right; buildings on this campus have stood since African Americans were first freed from bondage. The beautiful Jubilee Hall, home of the Jubilee Singers and a dormitory, was the first building ever built for the higher education of Black Americans.
Citizens Bank, with its headquarters located at 401 Charlotte downtown and branches in the Jefferson Street area, was the first African-American owned bank in Tennessee, and has been in continuous operation since 1904. Citizens was established by community leaders James Napier, Rev Richard Boyd, and Preston Taylor and ingeniously survived the Great Depression. First Baptist Church, now located at Charlotte Ave and 8th Ave N, is the descendant of the First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill which stood from 1895-1972. The Capitol Hill First Baptist was the headquarters for Nashville’s sit-in movement in the 1960’s. Rev Kelly Miller Smith, Sr was a prominent leader of the movements and the Nashville sit-ins were a model for civil rights protests throughout the South.
Nashville also is the home for some of the most well-known historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). In addition to Fisk University, Nashville is also the home of Tennessee State University, the first state-grant institution established for African Americans in 1912. Tennessee State University (TSU) is located on the grounds of the former Hadley plantation, at 3500 John Merritt Blvd. The university has expanded and offers numerous notable undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
There are many more historic sites that teens can simply drive or walk by in Nashville. For an in-depth look at the Civil Rights movement in Nashville, no teen should miss the Civil Rights Room in the downtown Nashville Public Library.