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
Aaron Douglas Mural

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.

Nashville Public Library
Nashville Public Library Civil Rights Room

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.

Tennessee State Museum
Tennessee State Museum Exterior Fountain

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. The current temporary exhibition, Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote includes the stories of many African American women who helped American women gain the right to vote.

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

Offers select stories from the “In Their Footsteps: Lives of the Hermitage Enslaved” highlighting the lives of the enslaved men and women who lived at The Hermitage during the life of Andrew Jackson and beyond his death in 1845.

Nashville History on Tour

Nashville 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 the 1960 in Nashville. 

Nashville Sites

Follow in the steps of those who took a stand by taking a seat. The Civil Rights Sit-Ins tour was written and narrated by Fisk University professor Linda Wynn. 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.

United Street Tours
United Street Tours

United Street Tours offers a series of 5-star rated, historical Nashville walking tours that are 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. 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.