Nashville celebrates Black History Month

Last updated on February 28th, 2020 at 11:24 am

Ailey dancers Jamar Roberts, Solomon Dumas, and Jacqueline Green.(photo by Andrew Eccles)

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of Blacks in U.S. history. The event grew out of ‘Negro History Week,’ the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history. Nashville will be celebrating the holiday this month at events throughout the city. Listed below are just a few.

Ongoing —

United Street Tours offers a series of five-star rated, historical Nashville walking tours that are led and curated by locals. The Nashville walking tours embrace those pieces of Black history in Nashville.

During the month of February, the Tennessee State Museum will host many special events including African American History tours, a special conversation with the authors of Soul Food Love, and a presentation on the preservation of Jefferson Street. Additionally, guests are invited to visit the permanent exhibition: the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Through February 27 —

Join the Tennessee State Museum for a specialized free tour experience that focuses on Tennessee’s African American history, February 1, 6-8, 14-15, and 20-22. The 45-minute tour will highlight the diverse culture of African Americans while aiming to acknowledge the oppression they faced from various forces in Tennessee’s history.

On February 27, the Museum presents ‘The Power of Story: Interpreting Black History.’ A free discussion interpreting African American history in public spaces and museums, including panelists Brigette Jones, director of African American studies at Belle Meade Plantation; Tamar Smithers, director of education programs at the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM); Marquita Reed, collections manager at NMAAM; and local music historian Lorenzo Washington of the Jefferson Street Sound Museum.

Lastly, be sure to check out the permanent exhibition, the Civil War and Reconstruction. Featured artifacts and stories in this exhibit document a period that forced Tennesseans to take sides and make sacrifices. Visitors will learn how Tennesseans determined to secede from the Union and how the state remained divided on the issue throughout the war.

Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library.

Throughout February —

The Nashville Public Library has several events planned for Black History Month. Learn about the Harlem Renaissance, the birth of jazz music, and the lasting impact this period has had on American music during their ‘Cool Days and Hot Jazz’ event. Find creative artwork, dance classes, and other fun events that celebrate African American history in Nashville. The library also features a permanent Civil Rights Collection that features black and white photos from the Civil Rights era in Nashville and a circular table in the center of the room representing the lunch counters of Nashville—locations of many sit-in protests that fueled the Civil Rights Movement.


February 22

Local community volunteers salute United States Colored Troops at Fort Donelson, beginning at 11 am at the Stewart County Visitor Center following by a 19th Century Weapon Firing at 2 pm on the Battlefield.

February 27 —

‘Journey’ is a performance and discussion with Dr. Alisha Jones of Indiana University and Dr. Douglas Shadle of Vanderbilt University celebrating the voices of Black women composers Nkeiru Okoye and Florence Price—starting at 7 pm at Vanderbilt University.

February 28 —

Grammy and Tony Award-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater will put her unique spin on standards and jazz classics at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. This fearless voyager, explorer, pioneer, and keeper of tradition will be joined by Bill Charlap, one of today’s leading jazz pianists.

February 28 —

Nashville’s first annual RNB Rewind will be coming to the Bridgestone Arena on Friday, February 28 with performances by Keith Sweat; Blackstreet, featuring Teddy Riley and Dave Hollister; Ginuwine; SWV; 112; Donell Jones; Jon B; and Next.

February 28-29 —

The Tennessee Performing Arts Center presents Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and welcomes Artistic Director Robert Battle as Ailey’s 32 extraordinary dancers are led to continue the Company’s legacy of using the African American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition to uplift, unite, and enlighten. Click HERE for story.

February 29

Join the annual Black History Month Memorial Service in commemoration of those once enslaved at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, Home of the People’s President and throughout the country from 11 am to 12 pm. Held at The Hermitage Church, the service will feature music and special remarks, followed by a procession to the slavery memorial. One hundred and fifty flowers will be laid, marked with the names of all those known to have been enslaved at The Hermitage. Complimentary hot chocolate will be served following the service.

February 29 —

The Nashville Municipal Auditorium welcomes Sir Charles Jones, Pokey Bear, Bobby Rush, Chic Rodgers, Shirley Brown, and Latimore for the 7th annual Cashville Blues Festival. Show starts at 7 pm.