THE BLACK EXPERIENCE WORLDWIDE
the african american
guide to nashville
Let me tell you about some incredible achievements by individuals of African descent during Nashville’s earlier years. It’s pretty inspiring stuff! And when you begin to explore Nashville more intentionally, these stories will add some depth to your experience. So, let’s dive in!
First up is Robert Renfro, who really made waves in business. In 1794, he obtained an innkeeper license and opened up Nashville’s first Black-owned hotel called Black Bob’s. Can you imagine the vibrant atmosphere and rich history you would discover if you stayed at Black Bob’s? His historic marker in Public Square is definitely a hidden gem worth adding to your Nashville tourism guide.
United Street Tours founder, Chakita Patterson with Nashville walking tour participants in front of Woolworth on 5th.
Then we have Free Joe, who did something truly remarkable in 1824. He established a community where African Americans experienced freedom, even though they were surrounded by a slave plantation. It’s a powerful testament to the resilience and determination of these individuals. Can you imagine how meaningful it would be to visit this historic site? It’s an important part of Nashville’s history that when added to your Nashville tourism guide as a bit more depth and diversity.
Now, Nashville was actually quite progressive for a while. Until 1835, free people of color in the city enjoyed various rights like voting, attending private schools, and receiving religious instruction. It’s fascinating to think about how these individuals shaped the social fabric of the city.
Speaking of Nashville’s history, the city’s role during the Civil War is worth exploring. Fort Negley played a crucial role as a Union Army fort in Nashville, providing a sense of citizenship to African Americans that was previously only a dream. The fort’s presence and the stories of the Black soldiers stationed there during the war make it an essential stop for history enthusiasts.
And after the Civil War, Nashville became a destination for African Americans from the Deep South. The city’s rich history and educational opportunities attracted many newcomers seeking a better future. Institutions like Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Roger Williams University, and Meharry Medical College became pillars of the community. These institutions are a must-visit for anyone exploring Nashville’s diverse history and culture. These Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) embody the spirit of progress and empowerment that shaped the city.
United Street Tours founder, Chakita Patterson leading a Nashville walking in front of Fort Nashborough historic site.
So, locals and visitors, as you explore Nashville, make sure to delve into the stories of African American pioneers and their contributions. Visit Black Bob’s historic marker, learn about Free Joe’s community, and don’t forget to explore Fort Negley and the remarkable educational institutions in the city. These experiences will add depth to your trip and help you understand the rich history of African Americans in Nashville. And if you need more recommendations, don’t hesitate to consult our local tour guides while on tour for additional hidden gems to discover!
Learn about Black Nashville on a historic downtown walking tour
United Street Tours tour guide, Lauren Holmes with Nashville walking tour participants on Broadway in Nashville, TN.
Back in the day, Nashville was a major hub for African American life in the South. During the dark era of slavery, the city was a prominent center for the slave trade, and many enslaved people were brought to its markets. It’s heartbreaking to think about those oppressive conditions, but what’s remarkable is how African Americans in Nashville managed to maintain cultural practices and traditions. Black Nashvillians held onto their music, art, and cuisine, preserving their identity despite the challenges they faced.
After slavery was abolished, Nashville’s Black population grew rapidly, and African Americans created their own neighborhoods, churches, businesses, and institutions. These were spaces where they could thrive and express themselves freely.
Now, here’s where it gets exciting. Black Nashville has made some significant contributions to music, and it’s worth celebrating! Think about the legendary African American musicians and performers who emerged from this city: the incredible Fisk Jubilee Singers, the incomparable Bessie Smith, the iconic Jimi Hendrix, the talented Bobby Hebb, and the legendary Charley Pride. They’ve left an everlasting impact on various genres, including gospel, blues, and even country music. The musical legacy of Black Nashville is truly awe-inspiring.
Fast-forward to today, and Black Nashville is still thriving, my friend. The African American community is involved in a wide range of industries, from music and arts to entertainment, entrepreneurship, and activism. African American artists, musicians, and professionals contribute to Nashville’s diverse and inclusive atmosphere, making it a dynamic city with a beautiful blend of cultural influences.
United Street Tours founder, Chakita Patterson with Nashville media powerhouse Anne Holt’s Tennessee.
Now, it’s important to acknowledge that Nashville, like many other cities, still faces challenges related to racial inequality, socioeconomic disparities, and systemic racism. But here’s the silver lining: individuals, organizations, and community leaders such as United Street Tours are working tirelessly to address these issues and promote equity and justice for everyone, including the Black community. Positive change is happening, and it’s incredible to witness.
So, as you explore Nashville, take a moment to appreciate the incredible contributions of the African American community on a Nashville walking tour. Enjoy the music, art, and cultural experiences that make this city so special. And let’s continue supporting efforts to create a more equitable and inclusive Nashville for everyone.
Interesting tidbits about the African American community in Nashville includes historical Black neighborhoods that are changing rapidly due to gentrification. There are certain neighborhoods that hold a special place in Nashville’s black history. Let’s dive into a few of them!
First up is North Nashville, specifically the area around Jefferson Street. This is one neighborhood that truly stands out. Affectionately known as the “Harlem of the South,” it was a bustling center of black culture, with countless clubs, theaters, and music venues that showcased amazing jazz, blues, and gospel music. And let’s not forget about Fisk University and Tennessee State University, both historically black colleges, which played pivotal roles in educating African Americans and fostering intellectual and artistic achievements. This spot has been a vibrant hub for the city’s black community for ages. Jefferson Street used to be filled with bustling businesses, clubs, theaters, and churches that were central to the African American experience. It was a real cultural hotspot until it was razed when the city decided to put a highway through it! Today this community is still growing to become the center spot for Black businesses and culture.
Now, let’s talk about Edgehill, which is just south of downtown Nashville. This neighborhood has a significant African American population and carries a rich historical legacy. Over the years, Edgehill has seen changes due to revitalization efforts and urban development. It’s a place where you can witness the dynamic evolution of the community.
Moving on to Bordeaux, located in the northwest part of Nashville. It’s a diverse neighborhood that includes a vibrant African American community. Bordeaux has been the focus of various initiatives aimed at community development and improving the quality of life for its residents. It’s a testament to the resilience and spirit of the people who call it home.
And we can’t forget about Hadley Park! It’s not just a park but also a surrounding neighborhood in Nashville. The park itself is named after George W. Hadley, the first African American superintendent of the Nashville Park System. It has served as a gathering place for the African American community, a spot where people can come together and enjoy the outdoors. The neighborhood adjacent to the park is a mix of residential areas and community facilities, creating a sense of unity.
But remember, Nashville’s demographics and neighborhoods have evolved over time. The African American community is not limited to these specific areas alone. The city has experienced gentrification and demographic shifts that have influenced the distribution of the black population. You can find the African American community dispersed throughout the city, contributing to Nashville’s vibrant cultural tapestry.
Make sure to include these historically significant neighborhoods in your Nasvhille tourism guide and soak in the rich history and culture they hold. And always remember to embrace the diversity and dynamism of Nashville’s African American community, no matter where you go in the city.
8 top black-owned businesses in nashville
Here are 8 top black-owned businesses to add to your Nashville tourism guide. Please note that the current status of these establishments might have undergone alterations since March 2020, during which the pandemic had a global impact.
Nashville is home to a vibrant and growing community of Black-owned businesses. These businesses contribute to the local economy, provide job opportunities, and add diversity to the city’s entrepreneurial landscapeHer.
1.Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria: A popular pizza restaurant that combines the flavors of Nashville with a hip-hop-inspired atmosphere. They offer a variety of unique and delicious pizzas.
2.Cupcake Collection: A bakery specializing in homemade cupcakes with flavors ranging from traditional to innovative. Their cupcakes are made from scratch and baked fresh daily.
3.United Street Tours: A Nashville walking tour company centering on Black history and culture.
4.Island Vibes Kitchen: A Caribbean restaurant offering authentic dishes like jerk chicken, oxtail, and plantains. They provide a taste of the islands in the heart of Nashville. Turns into a night club at night.
5.The Southern V: A vegan bakery and restaurant known for its mouthwatering vegan comfort food, including items like fried chick’n, mac and cheese, and sweet treats.
6.The National Museum of African American Music: Opened in 2021, the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville celebrates the contributions and achievements of African Americans in the music industry. It showcases the evolution of various musical genres, highlighting the profound impact of African American musicians and artists throughout history.
7.Sips + Strokes: An art studio that provides painting classes and workshops for individuals and groups. They offer a fun and creative environment for people to explore their artistic side.
8.Nashvitality: A wellness company that provides fitness classes, nutritional coaching, and wellness retreats. They focus on holistic health and empowering individuals to live their best lives.
United Street Tours founder, Chakita Patterson with Nashville walking tour participants at theNashville Sit-ins Historic Marker.