Nashville tour shares hidden Black history amid city's growth

Nashville Sit-ins.jpeg
Posted at 5:10 PM, Feb 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-02 21:13:08-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — Nashville is a growing city with its sights set on the future, but many want to remember and preserve the city's past.

As the nation uses this month to remember Black history, there are people reminding the city that history is oftentimes right under our noses.

Thousands of visitors roll into Nashville every day not knowing they are walking past places that help changed this country.

Erika Spaet visited from Oregon and wanted to capture a moment in time more than 50 years ago.

"If we don’t have visual reminders to keep telling these stories and we’re losing the elders that can tell the stories themselves, then we don’t have anything to remind us to keep learning and to keep remembering about the significance of that time."

Chakita Patterson is telling these stories one tour at a time.

Patterson is the founder of United Street Tours where she says her tours introduce people to the history, food, and art of black culture that is often overlooked.

There are many places down Rep. John Lewis Way wrapped in Nashville's Black history.

It can be hard to see that history today through the busy life of downtown Nashville, but Patterson wants to remind people even with all the changes it's there.

"One of the first things that I tell people on tour is that this street was actually what I like to call the battle zone right," Patterson said.

Before this was Rep. John Lewis Way, there was a young John Lewis who took to these streets and inside this Woolworth with other students from Fisk, TSU and American Baptist College to help end segregation.

"They walked down this street, very organized, and they walked into these doors like Woolworth, and they sat at those lunch counters and when they sat in at the lunch counter, even though they were nonviolent. That doesn't mean that they weren't going to be the recipient of violence."

As new stores, venues and restaurants pop up, some just hope these places remember the foundation they were built on.

"The new companies that are coming here, new business, new people who are moving here every day is important for them to just take a moment and to remember what was to fully appreciate what is," Patterson said.

Woolworth Theater as it is called today is an entertainment venue with live shows and performances. The store has a window display honoring the sit-in movement in Nashville from the 1960s.

Get NewsChannel 5 Now, wherever, whenever, always free.

Watch the live stream below, and download our apps on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and more. Click here to learn more.