African American

African American Decorative Arts
African American decorative arts embrace many forms, from the practical utility of bed quilts and baskets to the traditional crafts of blacksmithing and wood carving to the skill in design and constru... Continue Reading »
Bailey, Deford
DeFord Bailey, a virtuoso harmonica player who won fame on the early Grand Ole Opry, has a more significant place in history as the first African American to win fame in the field of country music as ... Continue Reading »
Berry, Mary Frances
Mary Frances Berry, a leading historian, civil rights advocate, legal scholar, and human rights advocate, was born in Nashville. After enduring an impoverished childhood, Berry received a Ph.D. and J.... Continue Reading »
Birch, Adolpho A.
Adolpho A. Birch, a pioneering African American jurist, became the first black man to hold several judicial posts in Nashville and the first to assume the chief justice position of the Tennessee Supre... Continue Reading »
Black Bottom
Black Bottom was notable as a Negro neighborhood in downtown Nashville until the 1950s. The area was nicknamed “Black Bottom” because of periodic river floods that left muddy residue on ... Continue Reading »
Bontemps, Arnaud W.
Harlem Renaissance writer and Fisk University librarian Arnaud W. Bontemps was born in Louisiana in 1902 but grew up in Los Angeles after his family moved to California when he was three. In 1923 Bont... Continue Reading »
Boston, Ralph
Former Tennessee State University track star and medalist in the 1960, 1964, and 1968 Olympic games, Ralph Boston was born in Laurel, Mississippi, on May 9, 1939. Boston attended Tennessee State Unive... Continue Reading »
Bowman, Eva Lowery
African American business leader in cosmetology and civil rights activist Eva Lowery Bowman was born to William and Alice Lowery in Nashville on April 25, 1899. She attended Pearl High School, Walden ... Continue Reading »
Boyd, Henry Allen
Henry Allen Boyd, founder of the Nashville Globe, was the son of Richard Henry Boyd, founder and manager of the National Baptist Publishing Board. As the son of one of Nashville's most prominent ... Continue Reading »
Boyd, John W.
John W. Boyd was one of the first African Americans to serve in the Tennessee General Assembly. Born in Georgia to Jackson and Martha Boyd around 1841, John Boyd grew up probably in both Georgia and T... Continue Reading »
Boyd, Richard Henry
Richard Henry Boyd, a founder of both the National Baptist Convention and the National Baptist Publishing Board, was born in Texas late in the antebellum era. After receiving an education at Bishop Co... Continue Reading »
Bradley Academy
Bradley Academy is a historic African American school in Murfreesboro that now serves as a community heritage center. The name Bradley Academy was given to the first school in Murfreesboro and to subs... Continue Reading »
Brewster Sr., William Herbert
Born July 2, 1897, on a farm near Somerville, William H. Brewster was the oldest of sharecroppers William and Callie Polk Brewster’s eight children. In 1915 Brewster entered Memphis’s Howe... Continue Reading »
Brown, Dorothy Lavinia
Dorothy Lavinia Brown, surgeon, legislator, and teacher, rose from humble beginnings in Troy, New York, to become the first female African American surgeon in the Southeast and the first African Ameri... Continue Reading »
Buckner, Lewis C.
Lewis C. Buckner, African American carpenter, cabinetmaker, and house builder in Sevier County, was born and raised as a slave in the Strawberry Plains community of neighboring Jefferson County. Buckn... Continue Reading »
Cain Jr., Robert "Bobby"
Bobby Cain became the first African American student to graduate from a public formally segregated white high school in Tennessee during the immediate controversial years of integration following the ... Continue Reading »
Cairo Rosenwald School
Located in the unincorporated community of Cairo, the Cairo Rosenwald School is one of three extant Rosenwald schools remaining in Sumner County and is listed in the National Register of Historic Pl... Continue Reading »
Campbell-Williams, Lucie Eddie
Lucie Campbell-Williams, composer, educator, and activist, was born on April 3, 1885, in Duck Hill (Carroll County), Mississippi, the youngest of Burrell and Isabella (Wilkerson) Campbell’s nine... Continue Reading »
Cansler, Charles Warner
African American educator Charles W. Cansler was born in Maryville, one of several children of Hugh Lawson and Laura Ann Scott Cansler. Cansler's mother had become Knoxville's first African ... Continue Reading »
Carr, Leroy
One of the most influential blues artists of the twentieth century, Leroy Carr was born in Nashville around 1905. Like many blues players of his era, Carr died a young man, but his imprint on Americ... Continue Reading »