Civil Rights | Nashville Public Radio

Civil Rights

Thomas R Machnitzki / Via Wikipedia

A panel of Tennessee lawmakers tasked with helping solve Civil Rights era crimes heard testimonies for the first time on Thursday.

The meeting illuminated the frequent challenges investigators face in reopening cases that went cold decades ago.

Adam Jones / via Flickr

Tennessee's unsolved civil rights crimes are getting a fresh look.

Legislators are asking lawyers to dig into the state's history of lynchings, firebombings and other racial violence perpetrated during Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement. Some cases may even be recommended for prosecution.

Archive / Library of Congress

Sixty years ago, Bobby Cain became the first African-American man to graduate from an integrated high school in the South. Just one year prior, he and 11 other black students had enrolled at Clinton High School in East Tennessee. They became known as the Clinton 12.  

Stephen Jerkins / WPLN (File photo)

Charlie Morris vividly recalls his brother's murder.

Jesse Lee Bond was a sharecropper in Shelby County. Suspicious because his harvests never seemed to cover his debts, in the spring of 1939, Bond asked the local general store for a receipt of his seed purchases.

For his diligence, he was shot, castrated, dragged and left for dead in the Hatchie River.

Erin Logan / WPLN

Four tall concrete walls now stand in the park in front of Nashville’s city hall.

Photographs depicting the city’s Civil Rights history are printed and embossed on the new public art project. The artwork was unveiled Friday, during the week of the 57th anniversary of the bombing of the home of a Nashville civil rights attorney.

John Lewis nonviolence March
Top Shelf Comix

A decision by the Nashville Public Library is looking prophetic this week.

Months ago, officials chose U.S. Rep. John Lewis’s graphic novel about the Civil Rights Movement — called March — for this year’s citywide read. Now the three-part memoir has skyrocketed in popularity following a feud between Lewis and President-elect Donald Trump.

Courtesy of Raymond Wade / Fisk University

Fisk University in Nashville is one of the most storied institutions in the country.

It was founded 150 years ago, just after the Civil War, to educate freed slaves. It graduated prominent black leaders of the Harlem Renaissance and Civil Rights. Its Jubilee Singers have been nominated for a Grammy.

But as it wraps up its sesquicentennial anniversary, Fisk is still grappling with a dilemma as old as the school itself: how to become financially sustainable. 

Strong Inside Wallace Maraniss
Courtesy of Andrew Maraniss

A Nashville author who saw surprising success with his first book is trying to extend his hot streak. With, “Strong Inside,” Vanderbilt University alum Andrew Maraniss delivered a bestseller about Perry Wallace, the first black basketball player in the Southeastern Conference.

Now, Maraniss has crafted the story into a condensed version for young adults — with a full-color action shot on the cover — and it joins an emerging trend of true sports stories for teens.

Congressman John Lewis mugshots Nashville
Metro Nashville Police Department

Congressman John Lewis, the Civil Rights icon who helped integrate Nashville businesses in the early 1960s, has plenty of stories to tell. But for one moment on Saturday, he was left speechless.

John Lewis Nashville civil rights photo
Nashville Public Library, Special Collections

He’s the living embodiment of Nashville’s role in the civil rights movement. And this weekend, Georgia Congressman John Lewis will receive the city’s top literary award for chronicling those years in his graphic novel trilogy, called “March.”

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