Chaplain Mary Murphy of the Center for Contemplative Justice and others from the community recognized the life of Z. Alexander Looby in an annual interfaith commemorative prayer walk on February 20. The ‘Walk in Love’ was a 2.2-mile walk beginning at St. Anselm’s church, leading up Jefferson Street, through the middle of the Bicentennial Mall, up the hill past the ‘Witness Walls’ at the Courthouse and ending in the Public Square.
Shortly after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, Looby filed the first desegregation suit against the Nashville public schools. When the student sit-ins began in Nashville in 1960, he became their first attorney—an action that resulted in his home being dynamited later that year.
The walk commemorated the silent march that took place on April 19, 1960 after the bombing of Looby’s home, next door to (what is now) St. Anselm’s. The march led to a meeting of Diane Nash and Mayor Ben West on that day at the courthouse, which then led to the integration of Nashville businesses.
Looby was a member of Holy Trinity and gave the land to the diocese to build the chapel of St. Anselm’s for the students of the Historic Black Colleges and Universities.
Each year, the walk has steadily grown in participants, and now commences at Tennessee State University, stops briefly and joining with others at St. Anselm’s as dictates historical record, and continues on to the courthouse steps.
“Many have supported the march as we witness to the city our high regard for our brother in Christ, attorney Z. Alexander Looby, remembering his full story, not just the parts that give us comfort,” according to event organizers.