I was watching the news last night, and there was a report about a program performed at a local school in honor of the Nashville sit-ins. One of the girls in the program made a comment about being previously unaware of that part of Nashville's history. It made me wonder just how many people in Nashville are unfamiliar with the critical role this city, or rather a handful of Nashville's brave college students and local leaders, played in the Civil Rights Movement. It's been fifty years since the sit-ins at segregated downtown lunch counters, but the students' bravery and effort deserve to be remembered, and their ideals and practice of nonviolent resistance are still relevant.
If you want to catch up on Nashville's history as a part of the Civil Rights Movement, I would suggest David Halberstam's book The Children. The book exceeds seven hundred pages, and at times it can seem dense, and the wealth of names can become confusing. Nonetheless, Halberstam thoroughly delves into every thinkable facet of the journey of the Nashville students from the sit-ins through the Freedom Rides into Mississippi and Alabama. The detail Halberstam includes is often heartbreaking because he refuses to pull his punches about the danger these students faced. Halberstam also does a wonderful job of painting the portraits of the budding Civil Right leaders that came out of the Nashville collegiate community, such as James Bevel, Bernard Lafayette, John Lewis and Diane Nash. The Nashville sit-ins are a part of this city's history, so honor the fiftieth anniversary by doing a little research and reading.
Photo Credit: public domain