Home Local News Fascinating program July 13 at Tennessee State Museum on Nashville Bombings

Fascinating program July 13 at Tennessee State Museum on Nashville Bombings

by Cass Teague
Betsy Phillips photo by RachaelJohnson
Dr. Learotha Williams Jr. photo by DaShawn Lewis

Betsy T. Phillips discusses her new book, “Dynamite Nashville”, published by Third Man Books, July 16, 2024, in conversation with Dr. Learotha Williams, as part of the TN Writers | TN Stories program at the Tennessee State Museum. Saturday, July 13, 2024 from 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM.

On September 10, 1957, Hattie Cotton Elementary School in Nashville, Tennessee, blew up. On March 16, 1958, the Jewish Community Center was bombed. On April 19, 1960, the home of Civil Rights attorney and Nashville city councilman, Z. Alexander Looby was dynamited. He and his wife were lucky to escape with their lives. These bombings have never been solved. In fact, many in Nashville don’t even know they’re connected. 

In Dynamite Nashville Betsy Phillips pieces together what really happened in Nashville at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement. It has national implications for how we understand the violent white response to desegregation efforts and white supremacist actions now. Just as Nashville was where Civil Rights icons like John Lewis, James Lawson, and Diane Nash got their start, it turns out that Nashville is also where a network of racial terrorists began experimenting with using dynamite against integrationists and the Civil Rights Movement. 

Worse, in Nashville, we see how the differing agendas of local police and the FBI allowed these bombers to escape prosecution until decades later, if at all. Dynamite Nashville, then, is a prequel to the racist violence of the 1960s, the story of how these bombers came together to learn how to terrorize communities, to blow up homes, schools, and religious buildings, and to escape any meaningful justice.

Betsy Phillips has written for the Nashville Scene and the Washington Post. Her fiction has appeared in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Apex Magazine, among others. She was named 2019 Best Historian in the Best of Nashville edition of the Nashville Scene and has served on the board of Historic Nashville, Inc. She lives in Whites Creek, Tennessee.

Dr. Learotha Williams Jr. is a professor of African American, Civil War and Reconstruction, and Public History at Tennessee State University and coordinator of the North Nashville Heritage Project. He is the co-editor, along with Amie Thurber, of I’ll Take You There (Vanderbilt University Press).

This event is part of the Tennessee State Museum TN Writers | TN Stories series. Readings and discussions take place in the Digital Learning Center at the Tennessee State Museum. Most events include an opportunity to purchase books through the Museum store and get them signed by the author. If you show your Eventbrite ticket you will receive a 10% discount on your book purchase in the Museum Store.

The mission of the Tennessee State Museum is to procure, preserve, exhibit, and interpret objects which relate to the social, political, economic, and cultural history of Tennessee and Tennesseans, and to provide access to educational and cultural programs and exhibitions for the people of the state.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment