Diversity in Nashville

Ways to Explore Black History in Nashville

Take a tour or explore historic sites and attractions to learn the significant role that African Americans played in the growth and development of Nashville.

The National Museum of African American Music

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. Each week, NMAAM presents My Music Matters, an intimate chat with an artist, academic, music industry insider, and/or influencer that explores their career, personal perspective of the industry, and why the music that’s important to them matters to us all. Tours will initially be held Thursdays-Sundays from 11am-6pm.

Fisk University

Located on the third floor of the John Hope and Aurelia Elizabeth Franklin Library at Fisk University is the Aaron Douglas Gallery. Aaron Douglas is widely acknowledged as one of the most accomplished and influential visual artists of the Harlem Renaissance. In 1944, he concluded his art career by founding the Art Department at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. He taught visual art classes at Fisk until his retirement in 1966. During his tenure as a professor in the Art Department, he was the founding director of the Carl Van Vechten Gallery of Fine Arts, which included both white and African-American art in an effort to educate students on being an artist in a segregated American South. Douglas is known as a prominent leader in modern African-American art whose work influenced artists for years to come.

Jefferson Street Sound Museum

The Jefferson Street Sound Museum celebrates the legacy of Jefferson Street's rhythm & blues scene, which began in the 1930s. The museum not only showcases the musical contributions of the African American community but also preserves the stories and artifacts from an era when Jefferson Street was a bustling hub of creativity and cultural exchange. Visitors can explore exhibits ranging from vintage photographs and instruments to personal memorabilia of legendary musicians like Little Richard, Ruth Brown, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Tennessee State Museum

Learn more about Black History at the Tennessee State Museum. The permanent exhibitions feature Black History from the early days of the state’s beginnings through the Civil War and Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movements in Tennessee.

Nashville Public Library

The Civil Rights Room in the Nashville Public Library is a space for education and exploration of the Civil Rights Collection. The materials exhibited 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.

The Nashville Jazz Workshop

The Jazz Workshop has come to serve as a gathering place for musicians, students, and jazz fans, offering world-class jazz education and performance in supportive and creative environments. Artists have developed at the Jazz Workshop, recorded CDs, and have become favorites on the local jazz scene. Student groups have emerged from the Workshop and found performance venues, adding to the availability and diversity of jazz in the community.

Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, Home of the People's President

Thanks to the research of the curatorial staff at The Hermitage, tour guides are now able to tell stories highlighting the lives of the enslaved men and women who lived here during the life of Andrew Jackson and beyond his death. Visitors will learn how vital the lives of the enslaved were to the operation of the farm, the harsh reality of the enslaved system, and how these men and women endured until gaining their freedom.

An experienced guide will lead you on this walking tour through The Hermitage grounds and witness the places enslaved men, women, and children were born, lived, worked, and died as you walk “In Their Footsteps.” Tickets also include access to The Hermitage mansion.

Nashville History on Tour

Nashville's history expertise and roots in the city going back nine generations make it possible for Nashville History On Tour to craft classic and custom tours that inform and delight. Take a journey through African American history in Nashville. From the early arrival of free persons of color in the city through Emancipation to hard-fought battles for voting rights in the 1940s and 1950s to the classic country music scene in Music City today, you'll learn about people who overcame barriers and made their mark on Nashville. Explore the Civil Rights Tour to see how Nashville was one of the most important cities for marches, arrests, and bombing stories to learn about John Lewis and the African American student-led peaceful, nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins to desegregate downtown eating establishments in 1960 in Nashville.

Nashville Sites

Follow in the steps of those who took a stand by taking a seat. Fisk University professor Linda Wynn wrote and narrated the Civil Rights Sit-Ins tour. The Downtown Civil Rights Sit-Ins tour begins at Church Street and Sixth Avenue North and ends at Rosa L. Parks Boulevard and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Nashville Zoo

Before there was a zoo, the Grassmere property was a family farm. The land has a rich history and many stories of the families that lived on it, from the white landowners to the enslaved individuals and, later, Black tenant farmers. On the Nashville Zoo Black History Tour, you will learn about the Black history of the property, the contributions these individuals made that ensured the success of Grassmere, and the eventual creation of Nashville Zoo.

United Street Tours

United Street Tours offers a series of 5-star rated, historical Nashville walking tours led and curated by locals. The Nashville Black History Walking Tour celebrates the past through storytelling about Nashville’s enslaved population by spotlighting people such as Robert “Black Bob” Renfro. While the Nashville Black History Walking Tour gives you a look into the past, on the Nashville Civil Rights Walking Tour, you’ll experience the civil rights story and gain an inspiring new perspective of Nashville on stops like the Witness Walls. Discover the murals, music, and local community of the Music City with the Nashville Black Neighborhoods Walking Tour. Unearth the fragments and piece them together with extraordinary stories that leave you more educated and inspired to become bridge builders in the community.