Home Local News Nashville celebrates Black History Month throughout February

Nashville celebrates Black History Month throughout February

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Chakita Patterson, founder of United Street Tours

This February, the Nashville community is celebrating Black History Month, continuing the discussion of Black people and their contributions through activities such as museum exhibits, book readings, and encouraging the study of achievements by African Americans year-round. Listed here are a few events happening within our area.

Through April 28
‘Carving a New Tradition: The Art of Latoya M. Hobbs,’ Frist Art Museum, 919 Broadway, Nashville
Curated by Dr. Rebecca VanDiver, associate professor of African American art at Vanderbilt University, ‘Carving a New Tradition’ showcases a selection of recent prints and mixed-media artwork from the studio of the Arkansas-born, Baltimore-based painter and printmaker LaToya M. Hobbs. Hobbs is a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art and a founding member of Black Women of Print, an artistic collective aimed at rendering the work of Black women printmakers (past, present, and future) visible.
Her monumental woodcarving ‘Carving Out Time’ anchors this exhibition and highlights her ongoing explorations of Black womanhood, identity, and artistic legacy that reverberate through the other artworks on view. Hobbs honors the rich traditions of printmaking and her Black artistic foremothers while pushing medium’s boundaries, exhibiting the matrix as object and incorporating mixed-media elements.

February 3
‘Carriage House Conversation, Black Heritage in Horse Racing,’ Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery, 110 Leake Avenue, Nashville, 1 pm.
Distinguished author, Katherine Mooney, will share insights from her book, Race Horse Men: How Slavery and Freedom Were Made at the Racetrack. Mooney’s compelling narrative unveils a world where horse racing, a popular pastime in American society, becomes a stage for the stories of Black jockeys, grooms, and horse trainers who were integral to making the racetrack run.
Race Horse Men explores a world of patriarchal privilege and social prestige, challenging common perceptions of an elite class of southern owners. Instead, Mooney reveals that the central characters were often Black individuals who, despite the challenges of their time, achieved status and recognition in the competitive world of horse racing. Join us for an enriching experience that celebrates the untold stories of resilience and achievement in the world of Thoroughbred racing.
As a commitment to sharing this history with the community, Belle Meade will also have an exhibit from the Kentucky Derby Museum entitled ‘Black Heritage in Racing’ from January 29 until February 26.

February 3, 10, 17, and 24
‘Black History in Music: Work, Worship, and Celebration,’ Jefferson Street Sound Museum, 2004 Jefferson Street, Nashville, 1 pm to 4 pm.
In celebration of Black History Month, the Jefferson Street Sound Museum proudly presents ‘Black History In Music: Work, Worship, and Celebration.’ This exclusive art exhibit aims to revive the memory of those thriving times while also honoring the businesses and entrepreneurs that made historic Jefferson Street a musical haven.
This unique exhibit not only celebrates the musical geniuses of the past, but also underscores the importance of revitalizing the businesses and cultural fabric of historic Jefferson Street. Be part of this journey to remember, honor, and reignite the legacy of a street that once was the heart and soul of Nashville’s Black community. Featured artists: Benneth Wilson, Elisheba Israel-Mrozik, James Threalkill, Karen Coffee, Michael Mucker, Morgan Hines, Michael McBride

February 8
‘Gallery Talk: Carving a New Tradition,’ Frist Art Museum, Gordon CAP Gallery, 919 Broadway, Nashville, 6:30–7 pm.
‘Gallery Talk: Carving a New Tradition’ explores the art of LaToya M. Hobbs and is presented by Nashville artist Ashley Seay. Learn about Hobbs as an artist and deep dive into her work while also learning about Seay’s printmaking process and how it relates to the exhibition. Free for members; gallery admission required for not-yet-members.

February 8-10
Patti LaBelle, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, One Symphony Place, Nashville, 7:30 pm.
R&B legend and ‘Godmother of Soul’ Patti LaBelle has enjoyed one of the longest careers in contemporary music. Patti LaBelle has done it all, from girl group pop and gutsy soul to space-age funk and hard-hitting disco. Get ready to be rocked when Patti hits the stage with the Nashville Symphony, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

February 10-11
Black History Month Expo, Nashville Fairgrounds, 401 Wingrove St., Nashville, 11 am–6 pm.
Spotlighting more than 100 Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, come dance, drink, and shop, all while empowering Black businesses.

February 24
Enslaved Memorial Service, Hermitage Church (Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage), 4580 Rachel’s Lane, Hermitage, Tenn., 11 am.
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage will hold its annual commemoration of those once enslaved at The Hermitage and throughout the country. Held at The Hermitage Church, the service will feature music by The Eagle Honor Choir from Andrew Jackson Elementary School and special remarks from Vanderbilt University Professor Brandon R. Byrd. Attendees will then be led in a procession to the slavery memorial ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd,’ located behind the church. There, 150 flowers will be laid by attendees, marked with the names of all those known to have been enslaved at The Hermitage.

February 25
Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, One Symphony Place, Nashville, 7:30 pm.
For 60 years, the group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, has sung powerful, uplifting songs that emote the struggles and passion of South Africa. Nelson Mandela called Ladysmith: “South Africa’s cultural ambassadors.” The group sings a cappella in a joyously energetic performance that combines loud powerful choruses with softer, almost whispering chants where voices blend harmoniously alongside tightly choreographed dance moves. Since they shot to global stardom on Paul Simon’s Graceland, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been recognized as one of the world’s great vocal groups. In addition to their work ‘Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes’ with Paul Simon, Mambazo has recorded with numerous artists from around the world, including Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Sarah McLachlan, Josh Groban, Emmylou Harris, Melissa Etheridge, and many others. Their film work includes a featured appearance in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker video and Spike Lee’s Do It A Cappella. They’ve provided soundtrack material for Disney’s The Lion King, part II as well as Eddie Murphy’s Coming To America, Marlon Brando’s A Dry White Season, Sean Connery’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, James Earl Jones’s Cry The Beloved Country, and Clint Eastwood’s Invictus. A film documentary titled On Tip Toe: Gentle Steps to Freedom, the Story of Ladysmith Black Mambazo was nominated for an Academy Award. They have appeared on Broadway, have been nominated for Tony Awards, and have won a Drama Desk Award. Presented without the Nashville Symphony.

‘Nashville History Tour’
Your tour guide David Ewing is a nationally recognized expert on Civil Rights and helped locate the lost mugshots of John Lewis’ arrest for the lunch counter sit-ins and helped present them to Congressman Lewis in Nashville. Ewing also is featured in the new U.S. Civil Rights Trail book by Deborah Douglas. Explore how Nashville was one of the most important cities for marches, arrests, and bombing stories. This movement was led by John Lewis, Diane Nash, Rev. Jim Lawson, and Rev. Kelly Miller Smith around John Lewis Way (formerly 5th Avenue) and Church Street. Dr. Martin Luther King’s visits and speeches during the era. See the Woolworth building and the Civil Rights Room of the Nashville Public Library.

Civil Rights Room, Nashville Public Library, 615 Church Street (2nd floor), Nashville
The Civil Rights Room is a space for education and exploration of the Civil Rights Collection. The materials exhibited here capture the drama of a time when thousands of African American citizens in Nashville sparked a nonviolent challenge to racial segregation in the city and across the South.
In September 1957, Nashville took the first steps toward ending segregation and discrimination in its public schools. Under a court order in accord with the Supreme Court’s historic declaration that segregation laws were no longer valid, a handful of courageous parents and their first-grade children registered at five previously segregated Nashville public schools.
In February 1960, a group of students from the city’s four Black colleges (American Baptist, Fisk, Meharry, and Tennessee A&I) set out to confront segregation at lunch counters, movie theaters, and other places of public accommodation.
The Civil Rights Room overlooks the intersection of Church Street and Seventh Avenue North, where nonviolent protests against segregated lunch counters took place.
Visitors can sit at the symbolic lunch counter and read the Ten Rules of Conduct carried by the protesters during the sit-ins and examine the timeline of local and national events.
Black and white photographs surround the room, illuminating dramatic events in this period of Nashville history. See parents leading their first-grade children past angry protesters, a bombing meant to intimidate those who were challenging segregation, and a peaceful confrontation between Mayor Ben West and African American student leaders.
A video presentation room and classroom adjacent to the Civil Rights Room make an array of materials available to individuals and groups.

‘Early Black Life and Culture Tour,’
Uncover the buried history of early Black life and culture in Nashville by exploring the lives and work of both free and enslaved African Americans. This tour was written by Dr. Lea Williams and co-narrated by TSU undergraduate student Maya Dunn and United Street Tours founder Chakita Patterson. The ‘Early Black Life and Culture’ tour begins at Fort Nashborough and ends at the State Capitol.

Tennessee State Museum, 1000 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville
Learn more about Black History at the Tennessee State Museum. The Civil War and Reconstruction were monumental times of conflict and change for the people of Tennessee. Featured artifacts and stories in this exhibit document a period that forced Tennesseans to take sides and make sacrifices.
Special programs include: Thursday, February 8, at 12 pm — ‘Lunch & Learn: Boogie and Blues: Black Women and The Tennessee Playlist’ will be presented by Tranae Chatman, TSM curator of Social History; also featured at Saturday, February 17, 11 am–12 pm, with special music performance to follow at 12:15 pm. ‘Rhythm Revolution: The Evolution of Black Music’ will be moderated by Tranae Chatman, Tennessee State Museum Curator of Social History.

The National Museum of African American Music, 510 Broadway, Nashville
The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) officially opened to the public in January 2021. Discover the central role African Americans have played in shaping and creating all genres of American music. From classical to country to jazz and hip hop, NMAAM has integrated history and interactive technology to share the untold story of more than 50 music genres and sub-genres. Tours initially follow a weekend schedule and will be held on Saturdays and Sundays 11 am-6 pm.

‘United Street Tours’ meets at 501 Broadway, Nashville
United Street Tours offers a Civil Rights Walking Tour of Nashville, a fascinating journey through the rich history of the Civil Rights Movement right here in the heart of Music City. This Nashville walking tour will take you on a captivating exploration of the city’s pivotal role in the pursuit for equality and inclusion.

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