As the nation continues to celebrate Black History Month, this week Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam added 10 places to the country’s new civil rights trail. Nashville played a huge part in the movement and is home to more than half of those sites.
Fisk University is one of the six sites on the trail. News4’s Briona Arradondo spoke with history professor Dr. Reavis Mitchell about the significance.
“I thought that finally, national recognition would bring importance to something that’s been locally known and locally appreciated,” said Mitchell, the dean of the School of Humanities Social and Behavioral Sciences.
On Friday, hundreds gathered at Fisk University to celebrate black history and excellence during the 150th birthday of graduate and civil rights activist W.E.B. DuBois. His statue stands on the campus reminding students to be leaders. During the 1950s and 60s, Fisk students helped bring about social change.
“Today, we see that mirrored in the present image of the country. So, it’s very heartening. It’s encouraging,” said Mitchell.
Six of the 10 sites in Tennessee are in Nashville, including Griggs Hall at the American Baptist College, Clark Memorial United Methodist Church where Dr. King visited, the Davidson County Courthouse and Witness Walls, and Nashville Public Library’s Civil Rights room.
“So many other places that had significant historical moments during the civil rights movement, you can learn about all of those in this room,” said Nekasha Pratt, the marketing director for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
Pratt had a say in how Tennessee’s story was told, making sure to also include Woolworth on 5th where sit-ins changed history. There are so many stories, and the U.S. Civil Rights trail only scratches the surface.
“I think that’s probably the biggest thing is everyone was so excited to tell this story and to be a part of it and that’s thrilling,” said Pratt.
State leaders said the trail was years in the making and spans over 14 states. Find more information about the Tennessee sites at www.tncivilrightstrail.com and learn more about the national trail at www.civilrightstrail.com.
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