Members of the Nashville Metro Minority Caucus, family members of the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis and community leaders unveiled a four-story mural honoring Rep. John Lewis and the Freedom Riders on November 4.
The late Rep. Lewis spent the entirety of his life fighting for social justice and equality. Up until the moment of his passing, he was championing those that came behind him to join in the fight, a fight that began while he was a student at Fisk University and American Baptist College. He was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and trained the students that initiated the national Woolworth’s sit-ins, and led the march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on ‘Bloody Sunday.’ He was a man of purpose, quiet strength, and dignity in the face of turmoil.
The mural was erected on the corner of 5th Avenue North and Commerce St. in downtown Nashville.
“The mural is a continuation of the celebration of John Lewis, and to pay homage to his civil rights history here in Nashville,” said Councilwoman Joy Styles, chair of the mural committee.
“This summer we honored him by renaming Fifth Avenue to Rep. John Lewis Way, so it is only fitting that the mural is here, on his street, and one block from Woolworth’s where he trained for and participated in Nashville’s lunch counter sit ins”
The mural is the first piece of Black art in the downtown corridor.
This work was completed by local Black artist, Michael McBride with the assistance of local artists Herb Williams and Donna Woodley.
About Rosa Lewis Tyner
Absent from the unveiling was one of Rep. Lewis’ sisters, Rosa Lewis Tyner. ‘Aunt Mae,’ as she was affectionately called, was the youngest sister of Rep. John Lewis. She transitioned on October 10, in Troy, Alabama. Tyner was 67 years old.
As one of the Lewis family members who attended the Rep. John Lewis Anniversary Celebration events held in Nashville in July 2021, Rosa was able to experience the love Nashville extended to her beloved brother. “Aunt Mae was so happy to be a part of the celebration activities in July and enjoyed every minute of the experience,” said her nephew, Jerrick Lewis.
Ms. Rosa was active in community activities, and as the youngest in the family, was doted on by her older siblings. Her brother, Henry Lewis, who spoke at various activities during the anniversary celebrations, said: “Rosa will be missed greatly. She was well-loved by her family as well as the community. Losing my sister, just a little more than a year after losing my brother, John Robert, is a straining and hurtful loss for our family.”
Rosa Lewis Tyner was laid to rest on October 21, in Troy, Alabama.