New book by historian, social worker seeks to tell a more complete story about Nashville

More than 100 Nashvillians interviewed for book
Posted at 5:51 PM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 21:25:04-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In a new book about Nashville's past, readers learn from regular people about historical landmarks and events.

"I came to find there were some really incredible people here with stories that were not being told," said Dr. Learotha Williams Jr., one of the editors.

The book is titled I'll Take You There: Exploring Nashville's Social Justice Sites.

For the book, Dr. Learotha Williams Jr. went around the city speaking with people impacted by injustice.

"We have members of the community that may not have had the opportunity prior to this to articulate their reality, to articulate what it means to them to be a Nashvillian," Williams said.

Williams, a historian and professor at Tennessee State University, put the book together with Amie Thurber, a social worker and former doctoral student at Vanderbilt University.

The book highlights sites significant to the Antebellum South and Civil Rights Movement and tells stories about topics including gentrification and homelessness.

"One of the most poignant spaces that's discussed in this book is the Tara Cole Bench. It's a memorial to the young girl who was asleep and some guys came and pushed her in the river and she drowned, and we have a bench there that commemorates her and the homeless population in the city, but it sits right down there in Riverfront Park and you can almost miss it unless you're specifically looking for it," Williams said.

The book seeks to point out some of the lost history of Nashville by talking to under-served residents.

"What we've done with this is we have elevated some marginalized voices," he said.

Williams said the intention of the book is to supplement the city's recorded history.

"This book was not an attempt to take down Nashville by any means, but it was a request, or maybe a plea to start paying attention to the least among us. The people that really cause the city to move and flow the way it does, we need to start listening to them as well," he said.

The book also highlights history specific to the LGBTQ community, immigrants and refugees.

The 222 page book is published by Vanderbilt University Press and can be purchased online.