History | Nashville Public Radio



The controversial issue of renaming MTSU’s Forrest Hall is now heading to the university’s governing body, the Tennessee Board of Regents.

This week, MTSU President Sidney McPhee accepted the recommendation of a university task force to change the name of the school’s Army ROTC building. It currently bears the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Civil War general with ties to the KKK.

TN Photo Services

The keepers of President Andrew Jackson's home were — understandably — disappointed to hear that he will be replaced on the front of the $20 bill. Executives at the Hermitage had been lobbying the U.S. Treasury Department.

Kim Green

Ann Walling has a haunting old family photograph.

It was taken of her as a baby in Mississippi in the 1940s, and she's held in the lap of an African-American woman. That woman, whose full name was Mary Jane Fairfield Hodges Perlina Green Scott, worked for Walling’s great-grandmother for decades — originally, as a slave.

1896 map; routes highlighted by Nina Cardona / Tennessee State Library and Archives

Say the words “Jim Crow” and “protest” and you probably think of the 1950s and 60s, when lawsuits, boycotts and sit-ins began to chip away at discriminatory rules. But across the nation, the fight against segregation laws actually began as soon as they went into effect. 110 years ago this month, Nashville’s black community took a bold step that made its streetcar boycott one of the most successful of its generation.

Ron Cogswell / Flickr

If there is a Confederate symbol even more controversial in Tennessee than the battle flag, it's Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Many idealize the Confederate general as a brilliant tactician and clever underdog who tricked Union troops — more than once — into defeat. 

Others see nothing to redeem the slave trader-turned-rebel commander. Forrest led the Confederate forces at Fort Pillow, where some 300 surrendering Union soldiers were killed, most of whom were black. He was also an early member of the Ku Klux Klan, and may have been the first Grand Wizard. 

Emil Moffatt/WPLN

Taps will sound at the Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery in Nashville later this morning. It’s a song that World War II veteran George Westover knew very well.

Nearly 75 years ago, Westover was a private first class from Wichita, Kansas who played the bugle aboard the USS Tennessee when it was based at Pearl Harbor.

The 14 New Historical Landmarks Nashville's Mayor Is Asking For

Jun 17, 2015

It’s become a tradition for outgoing mayors to preserve some of Nashville’s historic landmarks: Bill Purcell did it, Phil Bredesen did it, and now, Mayor Karl Dean. On Wednesday afternoon, Dean’s plan for 14 new landmarks goes to a public hearing.

James Mooney / Wikimedia Commons

Steve Inskeep, one of NPR's Morning Edition hosts, isn’t a historian: His job is to report on what’s happening now. So it may come as some surprise that his latest book, Jacksonland, focuses on what President Andrew Jackson did roughly 200 years ago to force Native Americans out of the Southeast. But in a recent conversation with WPLN, Inskeep explained that the thinking behind the Trail of Tears continues to echo.

Andrew Rozario / Courtesy of LeQuire Gallery

This Memorial Day marks 30 years since George Paine led the construction of the Vietnam War memorial in downtown Nashville. It includes a statue, time capsule and black granite wall — similar to the national memorial — listing the names of 1,300 Tennessee soldiers killed in Southeast Asia.

TN Photo Services

Updated 4 p.m.

An unexpected surge in business tax collections may go to build a new Tennessee State Museum —in its first ever dedicated home. Governor Bill Haslam proposed using $120 million to get started on a building that’s been mired in the planning stage for years.