Entries

National Civil Rights Museum
Located at the former site of the Lorraine Motel at 450 Mulberry Street in Memphis, the National Civil Rights Museum is the state's preeminent museum dedicated to the history of the Civil Rights ... Continue Reading »
Robinson Jr., Theotis
Theotis Robinson Jr. first gained statewide attention in 1960 when the University of Tennessee refused to admit him due to his race. The previous spring Robinson, who graduated in June from Austin Hig... Continue Reading »
Roddy, Bert Maynard
A well-known, innovative businessperson, Bert M. Roddy founded the first African-American-owned grocery chain in Memphis. He was born in Augusta, Arkansas, on August 19, 1886, to Jerry and Harriette M... Continue Reading »
Sit-ins, Knoxville
On February 1, 1960, four black freshmen from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, North Carolina, entered the Woolworth's store in downtown Greensboro, seated themsel... Continue Reading »
Sit-ins, Nashville
In 1958, following the formation of the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference (NCLC) by the Reverend Kelly Miller Smith Sr. and others, African American leaders and students launched an attack on ... Continue Reading »
Smith Sr., Kelly Miller
Kelly Miller Smith was the influential pastor of Nashville's First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, from 1951 until his death in 1984. He was also assistant dean of the Vanderbilt Divinity School fr... Continue Reading »
Smith, Maxine Atkins
Executive secretary of the Memphis NAACP for over forty years, Maxine Smith was born in Memphis on October 31, 1929. She graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis at the age of fiftee... Continue Reading »
Tent City, Fayette and Haywood Counties
In 1959 African Americans in Fayette and Haywood Counties fought for the right to vote. The concern for voting emerged as a by-product of the absence of black jurors for the trial of Burton Dodson, an... Continue Reading »
Terrell, Mary Eliza Church
Founder of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in 1896, Mary Church Terrell was one of the leading twentieth-century African American women activists. For more than sixty-six years, she w... Continue Reading »
The Emancipator
Published by Elihu Embree at Jonesborough in 1820, the Emancipator was the first newspaper in the United States solely devoted to the abolition of slavery. Embree had previously published a weekly new... Continue Reading »
Todd, Mary "Molly" Hart
Although she rarely held elective office, Molly Todd played an important role in fashioning public policy in Nashville and Tennessee in the second half of the twentieth century. She mobilized support ... Continue Reading »
Wells-Barnett, Ida B.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett, journalist, feminist, and civil rights activist, launched an antilynching campaign in the 1890s that made her one of the most outstanding African American women of the nineteenth... Continue Reading »
Williams, Jr., Avon N.
A powerful advocate for African Americans, Avon N. Williams Jr. became the leading African American lawyer in Tennessee in the protection and advancement of the rights of blacks in education, the work... Continue Reading »
Willis Jr., Archie Walter "A. W."
Civil rights lawyer and Memphis businessman A. W. Willis Jr. was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on March 16, 1925. Willis received his B.A. from Talladega College in 1950 and a law degree from the Unive... Continue Reading »
Wynn, Sammye
Sammye Wynn, educator and children's advocate, was the first black female educator to work in the Educational Opportunities Planning Center founded by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1... Continue Reading »
Yardley, William F.
William F. Yardley, an influential and powerful advocate for the legal rights of blacks, was the first African American to run for governor of Tennessee. Yardley was born in 1844, the child of a white... Continue Reading »
Zilphia J. Horton
Zilphia J. Horton, activist and artist, was born in Paris, Arkansas, as Zilphia Mae Johnson. A graduate of the College of the Ozarks, she grew up determined to use her musical and dramatic talents on ... Continue Reading »