Home Local News Tennessee State Museum explores histories of Black businesses with month-long ‘Lunch & Learn’ series

Tennessee State Museum explores histories of Black businesses with month-long ‘Lunch & Learn’ series

by PRIDE Newsdesk
(l-r) Andre Prince Jeffries, Cheryl McKissack Daniel, Dr. LaDonna Boyd, Shirley Peace Cobbins and Darrell Cobbins, and Tranae Chatman will be featured in The Legacy of Black Entrepreneurship in Tennessee series at Tennessee State Museum

The ‘Legacy of Black Entrepreneurship in Tennessee’ series will highlight five historic Black businesses, kicking off February 2 with Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. 

Throughout the month of February, the Tennessee State Museum will honor the stories of some of Tennessee’s most noteworthy historic Black businesses with the ‘Legacy of Black Entrepreneurship in Tennessee’ series. Each Thursday as part of its ‘Lunch & Learn program, a guest will join the museum’s curator of social history, Tranae Chatman, for a conversation on how they continue the legacy of their family businesses.    Visitors will learn the history of these businesses from a new generation of leaders as they share their own experiences and insight into their family history. Events will take place at noon, CST, in the Museum’s Digital Learning Center, and be live-streamed on the museum’s website at <TNMuseum.org/Videos> except where noted. 

On Thursday, the series hosted Nashville icon, Andre Prince Jeffries. The owner of Prince’s Hot Chicken, Prince Jeffries helped put Nashville Hot Chicken on the map. The great-niece to the original founder, Thornton Prince, Prince Jeffries gained ownership of the restaurant in 1980. Prince’s has since been named one of America’s Classics by the James Beard Foundation in 2013. Prince Jeffries has been awarded by the National Fried Chicken Festival, and the Nashville Scene, and was inducted into the Entrepreneur’s Hall of Fame by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center last year.

The series will host three additional events in the following order, including R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation, McKissack & McKissack, Peace Realty, and Universal Commercial. 

“My main goal with this series was to highlight two types of businesses,” said Chatman, who curated the series. “First, the businesses that have been around for over 100 years like R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation and McKissack & McKissack. And next, businesses that have long histories that are not often shared or talked about enough like Peace Realty and Prince’s Hot Chicken.” 

Visitors wishing to purchase lunch in advance of the events can do so via the links at the Museum’s Calendar of Events. The Legacy of Black Entrepreneurship in Tennessee schedule and guest biographies including the following:

February 9 – R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation with Dr. LaDonna Boyd

In 1896, Richard Henry Boyd founded the National Baptist Publishing Board in Nashville, Tennessee. Today, R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation upholds the tradition of producing, publishing and distributing Christian resources as well as educational and cultural merchandise and services.

Dr. LaDonna Boyd is the fifth generation president/CEO. Dr. Boyd is shaping and leading the company’s efforts to broaden its scope and offerings for modern needs. She is on the board of several local institutions including Citizens Bank, the National Museum of African American Music, and the Evangelical Christian Publisher’s Association. 

February 16 – McKissack & McKissack with Cheryl McKissack Daniel

Established in 1905 in Nashville, McKissack & McKissack is the oldest minority and women-owned design and construction firm in the U.S. President/CEO Cheryl McKissack Daniel represents the fifth generation of the McKissack family business as the sole owner, having taken over and reorganized the company from her mother in 2000. She has over 30 years of experience in all phases of the industry. Born in Nashville, Cheryl comes from a long lineage of architects and builders that began with an enslaved Ashanti ancestor in 1790.

February 23 (online only) – Peace Realty & Universal Commercial with Shirley Peace Cobbins and Darrell Cobbins. 

Peace Realty was established in 1959 by Samuel Peace. The company is credited with developing the Lakeview Gardens subdivision, the first neighborhood for middle-income Black professionals in Memphis. To honor his grandfather’s legacy, Darrell Cobbins established Universal Commercial Real Estate in 2007, Memphis’ first Black-owned commercial real estate company. Cobbins has worked with countless businesses and agencies across the city including the Memphis Urban League, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and FedEx.

Shirley Peace Cobbins, daughter of Samuel Peace and Darrell Cobbins’ mother, will speak on the history of Peace Realty and her time working with her father. Darrell will discuss the influence of his grandfather’s legacy on his career.

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