Urban Housing Solutions (UHS), Norf Art Collective and Mayor Megan Barry recently dedicated a historic mural in North Nashville featuring Civil Rights leaders to the late Rev. Bill Barnes, a longtime advocate for affordable housing and civil rights in Nashville. The mural, displayed on a UHS affordable housing complex at 26th and Clarksville, was funded by Google Fiber.
The 1,000 square-foot mural pays homage to history while bridging the past and the present with depictions of Nashville and Civil Rights leaders Diane Nash, Curlie McGruder, Z. Alexander Looby, John Lewis and two children. Each individual is seen taking strong strides, which represents perseverance and continuing improvement from generation to generation.
The mural reads: “Freedom is not a destination, it’s a journey.”
Curlie McGruder was a Civil Rights activist and tremendous supporter of Diane Nash and John Lewis as they led the desegregation of Nashville lunch counters with sit-ins and organized the Freedom Rides in the South. Zephaniah Alexander Looby served as a lawyer and was instrumental in protecting many activists of the time.
“The men and women depicted in this mural represent the real power that Nashvillians had and still have in the fight against social injustice. Our hope is to honor their courage, sacrifice and legacy,” said Walter Lewis, Counsel, Norf Art Collective.
“Affordable housing (a key in today’s fight for social justice) is a fundamental need, and the gap between the need and the availability of affordable housing solutions is widening,” said Brent Elrod, Urban Housing Solutions director of Planning & Development. “Nashville has been fortunate to have leaders like the late Rev. Bill Barnes who dedicated his life to advocating for and addressing this issue head-on. We’re incredibly honored to dedicate this mural to Rev. Barnes.”
Rev. Bill Barnes was a founding pastor of Edgehill United Methodist Church and a lifelong advocate for affordable housing, civil rights, and the fight against poverty in Nashville. In 2013, Metro Nashville created the Barnes Housing Trust Fund as the first housing trust fund to leverage affordable housing developments countywide. The UHS complex at 26th and Clarksville was developed with a grant from the Barnes Fund.
Since 1991, Urban Housing Solutions has been Nashville’s leader in affordable housing. We provide quality, energy-efficient apartments, paired with supportive services like transportation and health programs and recovery support, to address the housing challenges of Nashville’s workforce and people with special housing needs.
Norf Art Collective (or simply ‘Norf’) is a multimedia creative team based in Nashville. Norf artists produce public art that addresses social issues, as well as the unique cultural and historical aspects of respective neighborhoods. Norf also hosts social and interactive events surrounding the arts to effectively engage the community directly.