A Profile of African Americans in Tennessee History

In every significant chapter of Tennessee's history, black men and women have played important roles. Yet few of the many books published on Tennessee's history attribute significant roles to the state's African-American citizens.
        Except for chapters on slavery, the aftermath of slavery, and civil rights, the books written by most European-American authors generally ignore social and cultural African-American history in Tennessee. Therefore, the majority of history books on Tennessee are inadequate and incomplete for the full study of the state's rich history and culture, because in the nineteenth century African Americans comprised fully a quarter of Tennessee's citizens--which should mean that they would be included in at least twenty-five percent of the state's history. That is not the case and in Tennessee, in particular, early black history is sorely lacking.
       Not until the twentieth century were real attempts made to complete studies on Tennessee's African-American history. Caleb P. Patterson published his thesis, The Negro in Tennessee, 1780-1865 (1922), and Chase C. Mooney of Vanderbilt University published his master's thesis and Ph.D. dissertation into a book entitled, Slavery in Tennessee (1957). Although these studies by white graduate students contributed greatly to the study of Tennessee's black population, the books focused on blacks as mere workers and objects. Precisely because of this national problem, black historian Carter G. Woodson, the second black American to receive a Ph.D. in history, joined with other concerned black leaders in Washington, D. C., to form the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, Inc. (ASNLH), in 1915.
        During the period from 1916 through 1941, the American black history movement began as African Americans increased their understanding of race, culture, and the idea of blackness. For instance, in 1916 the ASNLH began publication of its quarterly Journal of Negro History. In 1929, the graduate students and social-science professors at Fisk University and other black colleges began interviewing former slaves through a federal Works Progress Administration project. These interviews began the "Slave Narratives," which eventually were published in several volumes by Greenwood Press of Westport, Connecticut. The slave narratives (volume 19 for Tennessee) gave different (black) perspectives of slavery. The former slaves saw themselves differently than the white historians, who previously presented a sterilized story. They especially would make no judgments about fellow white men and women who perpetuated the evil institution of human bondage. The Fisk slave narratives were entitled, God Struck Me Dead: Unwritten History of Slavery (1941). Despite the existence of the black narratives on the slave states, including Tennessee, still there was no scholarly study of African Americans in Tennessee history by blacks.
        Between 1929 and 1941, however, a Tennessee study from the black perspective was researched and published by Fisk University's dean and historian, Alrutheus Ambush Taylor. He and other local black historians came under the influence of Carter G. Woodson, who spoke in Nashville on several occasions. Taylor titled his study, The Negro in Tennessee, 1865-1880 (1941). Taylor's book not only complemented the one by Patterson, but the study went beyond slavery and covered Reconstruction history and various aspects of black life, including business and politics. Taylor's classic was published and distributed by The Associated Publishers, an affiliate of the ASNLH. Also as a result of ASNLH's influence, Professor Merle R. Eppse of Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College published his book, The Negro, Too, in American History (1938).
        With the introduction of graduate studies to Fisk University and Tennessee A. and I. State College (Tennessee State University), many master's theses appeared. These small studies (which are available at the institutions' libraries) encouraged more writing about Tennessee's black history, including theses and dissertations at white colleges and universities. The civil rights movement of the 1960s produced a demand for scholarly studies and books on black Americans, causing white historians to enter the market for such books. After a black professor of history at Tennessee State University, Mingo Scott, published his Blacks in Tennessee Government and Politic, (1975), two white professors published their doctoral dissertations: The Triumph of Jim Crow: Tennessee Race Relations in the 1880s (1976) by Joseph H. Cartwright and Black Tennesseans, 1900-1930 (1977) by Lester C. Lamon. Both authors attempted to take Tennessee's black story a few chapters beyond A. A. Taylor's 1880 stopping point.
        In 1978, Bobby L. Lovett's Ph.D. dissertation, "The Negro in Tennessee, 1865-1866: A Socio-Military History of the Civil War Era," appeared as a paperback and a hardback by University Microfilm International of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and addressed the neglected history of black Tennesseans during the Civil War period. Lovett, a Tennessee State University history professor, concentrated on the Civil War period because it was a chapter of Tennessee's history that had been purposely distorted by white southern historians. Lovett's dissertation was preceded by his scholarly article, "The Negro's Civil War in Tennessee, 1861-1865," which was published in the ASNLH's Journal of Negro History (1976).
       Then in 1981, under the auspices of the Tennessee Historical Commission, Lester C. Lamon attempted to bring synthesis to the black story in Tennessee by publishing a small book entitled, Blacks in Tennessee, 1791-1970. In 1985, John Cimprich published his doctoral dissertation, Slavery's End in Tennessee, 1861-1865. Other books and scholarly articles by blacks and whites followed, until an extensive picture of African-American history in Tennessee was generally clear by 1995.
        More than 100 years passed after the neo-Confederate writers took control of the state's history, causing black history to become "lost, stolen, or strayed" (to quote actor Bill Cosby) from Tennessee's history books. In their zeal to cleanse the evil chapter of the Confederacy and redeem their Confederate ancestors, many white writers contributed consciously and unconsciously to deficits and distortions in Tennessee's history. They painted a colored canvas, using one color (white) to sterilize slavery and glorify the Confederacy. Reading their books and articles, including works from the public sector i.e., the state Tennessee Blue Book), children in particular could conclude erroneously that all blacks were slaves, all whites were slave owners', the Confederates won the Civil War, and freedmen contributed nothing to the intellectual, the cultural, hand the economic society of Tennessee. So the writing of articles and books (like this one) exclusively devoted to black history became necessary to provide researchers and writers the information needed to write a more complete history of Tennessee. And the movement started by Carter G. Woodson and the association for the Study of Negro Life and History that was spread to Tennessee under the tutelage of such persons as Fisk University's Alrutheus Ambush Taylor and Tennessee A. and I. State College's Merle Eppse during the 1920s and 1930s surely continues today.
       The African-American history of Tennessee generally begins with the settlement of North Carolina and proceeds with the transformation of that state's western territory into the state of Tennessee in 1795-96. Historical documentation, including Ivan Sertima's They Came Before Columbus (1976), indicates clearly that blacks entered the future Tennessee territory with the earliest of European explorers and probably before Europeans arrived in America. When the results of the American Revolution ended British control of the territory west of the Appalachian Mountains in 1783 (and a few years before that date), white settlers from the Carolinas and Virginia rushed into the rich Tennessee Valley, many bringing slaves with them. By 1791, the Tennessee territory, now under the auspices of the new United States Congress, held 35,691 people, including 3,417 (9.6 percent) blacks. By 1860, African Americans constituted over twenty-five percent of Tennessee's population.
       Yet the early history of Tennessee was not wholly about the story of slaveholding whites and black slaves. Fort Nashborough (Nashville), which was settled in 1780, had approximately twenty percent black population, mostly slaves but also several free blacks, among the original settlers. A black man was among the small party men who explored and selected the Fort Nashborough site in the winter of 1779. Knoxville and East Tennessee, which were settled before Nashville, had as many free blacks as slaves. Whereas some 5,000 blacks served in the various armies of the Revolutionary War, some free blacks, too, came into the Tennessee territory just as white veterans also sought land grants and economic opportunity in the Old West. Tennessee was populated mostly by free and slave African Americans and non-slaveholding European-American yeomen and free farmers.
        Although Tennessee was a slave state, it was not a large one. However, its small slaveholding population was a powerful slavocracy. Neighboring Arkansas (a younger state by far) had a median slaveholding of 23.4 slaves compared to Tennessee's median of 15.1 slaves in 1860. Less than twenty percent of the families in Tennessee ever could afford to own slaves, some worth more than $855 dollars each in 1846 and then $1,350 each by 1860. Even in a wealthy area like Davidson County, most white male Tennesseans owned no slaves and many had no land. Among the powerful Tennessee slavocracy some ninety-two percent of slaveholders owned land. Slavery hurt most white Tennesseans because cheap slave labor and the domination of the state's best lands by the slavocracy impoverished many white families, leaving some of them in an economic existence barely above that of slaves.
        Yet conservative writers often glossed two important Tennessee stories: (1) since the 1790s Tennessee had supported a large anti-slavery element, and (2) most Tennesseans were not slaveholders. For more than a generation after the American Revolution, Tennessee was a notable manumission state. The early Tennessee General Assembly facilitated voluntary manumission of slaves by their owners. By 1819 Elihu Embree, a white Quaker (member of the Society of Friends), published The Manumission Intelligencer and then The Emancipator 1820) in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Quaker Charles Osborn and other religious leaders, including some Presbyterian ministers, also began a movement to rid the state of the evil institution of human bondage (slavery). Anti-slavery societies existed in most regions of the state, and the American Colonization Society (an effort to colonize freed slaves in Liberia, Africa) operated openly in Tennessee after 1821, later receiving some support from the General Assembly.
        After the 1831 slave rebellion in Virginia caused Negrophobia to sweep the region and Tennessee, slaveholders and aspiring-slaveholders found reason enough to tighten the controls on slavery. They forced many outspoken antislavery men to flee Tennessee. Negrophobia and the movement against domestic and northern abolitionists engulfed Tennessee's society between 1834 and 1861. Suspected white abolitionists, like Amos Dresser (a member of an Ohio abolitionist group), were tarred, feathered, and forced to flee Tennessee in 1835. Also in the preceding year, the Tennessee Constitution was changed to exclude free blacks from voting rights.
        It is likely that the blacks' support of the Whig party and Negro opposition to Andrew Jackson's Democratic party gained few political friends for free black Tennesseans. Moreover, antebellum politics soon focused on the issue of slavery. In the South, the debates about slavery involved mainly the Whig and the Democratic parties, particularly in Tennessee. The Democratic party attracted many persons who were aspiring entrepreneurs and future slaveholders, men who desired one day to exploit Tennessee's rich natural resources. Therefore, the Democratic party became fanatical about protecting slavery to the point of treason and rebellion, even though the Whig party really had more slaveholding members. Yet the Whigs were ready to compromise with the North to keep the institution of slavery in some milder form.
       The poorer whites, who felt altogether excluded front the American dream and economically depressed in the Age of Jacksonian Democracy, hated the blacks ("the neggars") and resented the economic dominance of slavery. Many non-slaveholding whites (indeed, poor European immigrants who began to arrive in Tennessee's cities during the 1840s and 1850s) feared any social and economic advantages for free blacks. After the 1830s, white workers in the cities persuaded the governments to pass municipal codes to protect their jobs against slave and free black competitors. Some white workers attacked prosperous free blacks and quasi-independent (self-hired) slaves during Nashville's race riot in December of 1856. In Memphis in 1860, the city's 4,339 poor Irish immigrants disliked black competitors.
        Neither free Negroes nor slaves had any respect for landless, poor whites ("po' white trash"). Slave children frequently made fun of their poor, malnourished white playmates. In Nashville, some slave and free black youngsters angered poor white children by name-calling and reminding the white youngsters that "yo daddy is too po' to even have a servant." The gulf between poor white Tennesseans and blacks persisted through postbellum times and made it difficult to develop a winning black-white political coalition against the elite whites, even during the Populist party movements in Tennessee (1880s-1890s).
        Because it was controlled by the slavocracy and dominated by the presence of the institution of slavery, antebellum Tennessee likewise was an autocratic, undemocratic, oppressive republic. By 1860, when slaves numbered 275,719 persons and slaveowners constituted 36,844 of the state's 826,722 white citizens, the slaves represented 24.8 percent of Tennessee's population, not including over 7,300 free blacks. Although small in numbers, the slaveholders comprised some 58 percent of Tennessee's landowners and held the state's real economic, political, and social power in their hands.
        After slavery spread rapidly across Tennessee between 1820 and 1860, the oppressive slave society became worse for most Tennesseans. After 1818, when Andrew Jackson and other speculators concluded treaties with the Native Americans and forced them to move westward, white entrepreneurs and planters rushed into West Tennessee. Although the area really was not opened until 1820, the fertile lands of West Tennessee became home to over 70 percent of Tennessee's black inhabitants, followed by Middle Tennessee and then East Tennessee. With its rocky and less fertile plateaus, East Tennessee held few slaves, but Middle Tennessee's Counties (particularly in the basin area) held many slaves because the soil could sustain crops of cotton and tobacco, mining, shipping, and commercial activities that fully utilized black workers. Middle Tennessee, the state's wealthiest area, had many large plantations, including Belmont, Overton Place, the Hermitage, Belle Meade, and Wessyngton. Businessman Montgomery Bell also maintained huge holdings of slaves, and some 300 slaves worked Bell's iron industries in Davidson and Dickson counties. John W. Jones of Fayette County held over 250 slaves, growing cotton and other products. The plantations often involved attempts by their owners to experiment with improved social organization of the slave community.
       Tennessee's slaves experienced a harsh existence, living mostly on small farms instead of large plantations. There was no such thing as a "good master." Members of the slavocracy enslaved other human beings and confiscated the fruits of their labor for the selfish enrichment of the elite class. Organized slave patrols were authorized by the General Assembly to keep the slaves under constant observation and in perpetual fear. Farms were few and far between each other, creating isolation. It was difficult for the slaves to communicate with one another. Still, many slaves rebelled by purchasing their freedom, running away, breaking tools, making mules go lame, being disobedient, and even attacking and killing some masters. Between 1844 and1859, public hangings of slaves for either murder or conspiracy to commit murder of their masters were not uncommon. Many slaves escaped via the Underground Railroad through Middle Tennessee, then across Kentucky, and into Ohio.
        Tennessee became an active slave-trading state, with Memphis second only to Louisville, Kentucky, as a slave market in the Upper South. In Nashville, slave brokerage houses were plentiful near Cherry Street (present Fourth Avenue, North) and Cedar (now Charlotte) Street. There one also could borrow the money at six percent per annum to buy slaves. In Middle Tennessee, John Overton, John Armfield, and Isaac Franklin made fortunes buying and selling black human beings as slaves. In Memphis, Nathan Bedford Forrest and other white men made fortunes telling, buying, and renting slaves. From Tennessee, the slaves were sold into notorious frontier lands like Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and Florida. The hiring of slaves became big business, resulting in a quarter of the slaves being hired out in many towns, bringing the owners as much as $150 a year. The first of January was a dreadful day for blacks because it was the time each year when Negroes were sold and rented to other masters, breaking up the slave families. Even free blacks feared for their lives and freedom when "Negro stealers" (poor whites) made their living kidnapping blacks and selling them into the Deep South.
        When the whites tightened the controls on slavery, while fighting their wars of propaganda against northern abolitionists and antislavery literature, more white hatred was generated against free blacks. In Nashville, the city council passed laws that excluded freeblacks from engaging in the meat industry (increasingly controlled by German immigrants),operating lucrative freight wagons, and owning stalls in the Market Street (now Second Avenue, North) commercial district. The latter jobs were preferred by Irish and Jewish immigrants. To stop the rapid increase in the free black population, owners could not manumit their slaves without permission of the county courts and manumitted blacks could not remain in Tennessee without approval of the courts. Any free blacks remaining in Tennessee had to carry papers (proof of freedom) on them at all times. The Tennessee General assembly passed legislation to help transport manumitted-slave volunteers to Liberia, Africa, under the auspices of the American Colonization Society. No more than 2,000 freed blacks left Tennessee, voluntarily and involuntarily for the Liberia colony. Further legislation unsuccessfully attempted to force free blacks to assume white masters or leave Tennessee by 1859--such legislation actually passed in Arkansas.
        Although white society was oppressive for free Negroes in heavily black West Tennessee, blacks enjoyed a free environment in East Tennessee. By 1860, most of the 457 black residents were free persons in Knoxville. There the free blacks lived peaceably but not prosperously. When several free blacks migrated from neighboring North Carolina to Tennessee after the Nat Turner rebellion, whites in Friendsville (a Quaker community) welcomed them to Tennessee.
        Middle Tennessee enjoyed moderate race relations, at least until the 1840s when there was a heavy influx of immigrants and non-slaveholders. More than half the free blacks were mulattoes (of half-white and half-black ancestry), who were related by blood to members of the white slavocracy. Because of this relationship and their small numbers, free blacks enjoyed a benevolent and paternalistic alliance with the wealthy, elite whites who protected them, often employed them, and allowed free Negroes privileges that violated antebellum race rules. In Nashville, over 719 free blacks comprised nearly twenty percent of the town's black population and another 25 percent of the local blacks were quasi-independent slave persons, whose masters allowed them to hire out their time and even live in their own rented quarters and houses.
        Between 1833 and 1857, Nashville's free blacks operated their own schools, because they were excluded from the city's public schools, which opened in 1853. Free black teachers like Alphonso Sumner, Daniel Wadkins, Sarah Porter, Joseph Manly, and Rufus Conrad became Tennessee's pioneers in providing education for black people. There were no free black schools in Memphis, but there the blacks enjoyed simple lessons taught in the Sabbath schools until 1856, when reactionary whites demanded an end to teaching Negroes to read.
       The free blacks owned businesses, including monopoly of the barbering trade (giving whites baths, shaves, and teeth-pulling services). Mulatto Frank Parrish (la quasi-independent slave) was so popular as a barber that Nashville's newspapers allowed him to place advertisements for his business. Free blacks controlled the hack (taxi) service in large Tennessee towns like Nashville. By 1860, some thirty-eight free black women, for example, owned $249,400 in total real property holdings in Tennessee. Sarah Estell of Nashville owned and operated the town's most famous ice-cream parlor before the Civil War. And Nashville's Joseph Manly operated a popular bakery in the same city. Postbellum racial segregation eventually destroyed the black entrepreneur's white customer base.
        Some of Nashville's free blacks became nationally prominent leaders after slavery. James T. Rapier attended the free black schools in Nashville and became Alabama's first black U. S. Congressman after the Civil War. James's grandmother, Sally Thomas, was a quasi-independent slave, who operated a boarding house and laundry in downtown Nashville. Her son, Rapier's father, was purchased and freed by his white employer's will before moving to Alabama to become a wealthy barber and owner of real estate. Rapier's uncle, free black James P. Thomas, also became a prosperous barber and owner of real estate in Nashville before moving to Saint Louis in 1856 and later writing his autobiography, From Tennessee Slave to St. Louis Entrepreneur. The book manuscript was discovered at Howard University (Washington, D. C.) and edited and published in 1984 by historian Loren Schweninger, who also wrote James T. Rapier and Reconstruction (1978).
        James C. Napier (1845-1940), born a free mulatto in Davidson County, also attended the clandestine free black schools in Nashville, recalling that Daniel Wadkins' classes could not meet many days because whites were watching the place. Napier attended Oberlin College in Ohio and became Nashville's first formally-educated black lawyer, being graduated from Howard University in 1872 along with a black classmate from Memphis. In 1878, Napier married the daughter of Reconstruction leader John Mercer Langston. Napier was elected to Nashville's city council for five terms (1878-1885). He served as Register of the United States Treasury (1911-1913) under Republican President William Howard Taft. Napier also served on the state executive committee for the Republican party of Tennessee and was a delegate to several National Republican Party Conventions. When he died in 1940, Napier was still serving as a member of the Nashville Housing Authority and as cashier (manager) of Nashville's Citizens Savings and Trust Company Bank.
        Samuel Lowery, also born free in Davidson County, was a product of Nashville's free black schools and a local college (Franklin Institute) where the liberal white proprietor allowed a few free blacks to work and study their lessons apart from the white students. After the Nashville race riot of 1856, Lowery became a minister in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Canada, before returning to Union-occupied Nashville as a missionary teacher of black Union army soldiers, and then a lawyer and notable inventor of silkworm culture and manufacturing. He and his father, Samuel Lowery (a wealthy free black), and others founded the Tennessee Manual Labor University, modeled after the Franklin Institute, on December 10, 1867.
       No doubt Tennessee's urban slaves had advantages over the rural slaves, who toiled on isolated, small farms and large plantations. Free blacks and urban slaves attended the attractions of the age, including circuses, theater shows, dances, cock fights, and horse races.
Black musicians (slave and free), including Jordan McGowan and James ("Jim") Hill, catered music for the finest white balls and dances. James P. Thomas recalled that he and other blacks attended the rare performances in Nashville by the famous singer Jenny Lind a Swedish operatic diva. Blacks danced the "Rubin Rede, the Juba, and Jumping Jim Crow, said Thomas. Even the slaves visited the towns during the Christmas season. In his autobiography, James P. Thomas wrote:

       Whereas about ten percent of the slaves lived in towns and cities, another ten percent or so helped build businesses and industries in Tennessee. Slave artisans were Tennessee's craftsmen, building fine mansions for whites, making shoes, crafting wagons, and doing the jobs of blacksmiths, stonemasons, coopers, and boatmen. Over 10,000 slaves served as principal workers at Tennessee's iron and mining industries, centered in Nashville and Stretching into the Rim counties of Dickson, Hickman, Lawrence, Montgomery, Stewart, Wayne, and even some parts of Cheatham, Maury, and Williamson, which held less-concentrated deposits of iron ore. Near Patterson (or Pattison) Forge in Davidson County--now part of Cheatham County--a village housed the hundreds of slave iron workers, according to the Tennessee Department of Conservation's Division of Archaeology publication, A Cultural Resource Survey of Tennessee's Western Highland Rim Iron Industry, 1790's--1930's (1988). Nashville held many of the iron region's foundries, furnaces, and machine shops that produce a variety of iron products. James C. Napier's white grandfather, Elias Napier, was one of the largest employers of slaves in Tennessee's iron industry. Slaves also worked the riverboats and waterways and helped build Tennessee's first railroads.
        Antebellum blacks also maintained churches. These institutions were controlled by white congregations, mostly in towns and cities (i.e., Columbia, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville). Slave Christians existed throughout slavery and enjoyed the privileges of baptism. official membership, and the Lord's Supper with the white members. They also experienced excommunication.
        And then there was the "invisible" black church. Services were operated by slave preachers, like Dick Ham, in clandestine places, like Nashville's Buck's Alley. To gather their flocks and watch for slave patrols, the members of the invisible black churches used singing codes such as lyrics of Steal A way to Jesus; announcements of Weevils in the Wheat warned against white knowledge of any impeding meeting; and "Raid Foxes" were designated among swift young runners to decoy white patrollers away from the sacred "brush arbors."
        Slave religion became formalized during the 1830s, when the southern churches began an evangelical movement to Christianize more slaves and their owners. This was an effort to counter the northern abolitionists' arguments that slavery was evil, unchristian and should be abolished immediately. Most slaveholders were not church members, and generally they were crude and uncultured men who forbade the slaves to gather for any meetings, including church services. More than a few slaveholders fornicated with their enslaved workers, committed adultery against their white wives, raped and it bused black women and slave children, reared their white children with their illegitimate black siblings, and sold their own mulatto children and grandchildren. As a result of the southern evangelical movement, by the 1840s some Baptist and Methodist churches included many slaveholders and had more black members (slaves) than white ones.
        To relieve overcrowding and to respect the desire of some non-slaveholding whites to remain socially above black people, many integrated Tennessee churches began to separate their black Christians into separate (evening) services and some into quasi-independent congregations led either by white ministers or white-supervised black preachers. Nashville had several quasi-independent black church congregations: Capers Colored Methodist (1832), First Colored Baptist Mission (1848), First Colored Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church (1855), and Central Baptist Church's African Mission (1861 ). Columbia had the oldest black-church building, Mount Lebanon Baptist Church (1843), which was turned over to the blacks after the whites built a new one. In Memphis, where 109 free blacks and 2,362 slaves lived by 1850, a white man named Silas T. Toncray operated a church for blacks. The black congregation ran the church after Toncray's death around 1847, but whites forced the church to close in late 1856. That was the year that a race riot hit Nashville and fear of a regional slave rebellion swept from the iron districts of Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky into West Tennessee. Yet, in Memphis the whites of Wesley Chapel allowed a Negro preacher to instruct the congregation's black members.
        In many antebellum churches in West Tennessee, the whites feared the great numbers of slaves. Most masters preferred to keep the blacks in integrated congregations, often seating the blacks in newly constructed balconies and rear pews. Many slave masters began to encourage preachers to "speak" to their slaves, often to make the blacks more obedient. Both slave and free black preachers, including Daniel H. Jones, Pompeii, Edmund Kelly, and Nelson G. Merry, became notable speakers among Tennessee's antebellum black Christians. Nelson G. Merry, a slave who was freed in 1845, became the first black to be ordained (November of 1853) and placed over a black congregation as "moderator" (pastor of the First Colored Baptist Mission). After gaining a taste of religious freedom, the black Christians tired of the white ministers' devilish sermons: "If a man is a slaveowner when he becomes a Christian, let him remain a slaveowner; if a man is a slave when he becomes a Christian, let him remain an obedient slave." Blacks also tired of the quasi-independent churches, which were controlled by white congregations. In 1859, some blacks in Memphis began Collins Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church.
        The Civil War brought an end to spiritual enslavement of black Christians by white Christians who worshipped a degenerate southern religion: New Testament theology, southern nationalism (regionalism), and racism. The black churches gained their independence during and after the war and took various names (even charters), including First Colored Baptist Church of Nashville, Capers Memorial Colored Methodist Episcopal Church of Nashville, First Colored Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Nashville, First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Mount Lebanon Baptist Church of Columbia, Collins Chapel Methodist Church and Beale Street Baptist Church of Memphis, and the Colored Methodist Church of Knoxville. One of Memphis' most famous black preachers, former-slave Morris Henderson (1802-1877), founded and built the Beale Street Baptist Church (now listed in the National Register of Historic Places). Memphis Avery Chapel A.M.E. Church was founded by a black Union soldier. In 1866, Nashville had eight black churches, Memphis had as many, Knoxville had at least two, and Chattanooga had one.
        The Civil War era became an important but also the most convoluted period of African-American history in Tennessee. Because of the protracted effort by so many white writers to cleanse Confederate history and redeem the "Lost Cause," this period (1861-1865) also became the most distorted chapter in Tennessee's history. Almost all Tennessee history books treat the Civil War blacks as non-participants, noncombatants, and docile onlookers--something to be studied, but not respected as men and makers of history. From these books, a reader could form the impression that the Confederates won the Civil War and the evil Confederacy was good and glorious, but these were falsifications of Tennessee's history. The historical truth is:

        Among some 1,140,000 Tennesseans, nearly 700,000 of them did not give support to the Confederate rebellion against America. In 1861, almost all 290,000 black Tennesseans naturally supported the Union cause. Despite slavery and racial discrimination, African Americans remained notoriously loyal to the country, from Revolutionary War times through modern times. Tennessee's pro-Confederates were outnumbered by the whites who opposed the rebellion, the whites who refused to become involved, plus the hard core Unionist whites of East Tennessee and some in Middle Tennessee, and, of course, over a quarter of a million blacks. Among nearly 850,000 white Tennesseans, a high estimate is that 115,000 men served in the Confederate armies, and half of the white Tennesseans--which included soldiers' families--gave at least spiritual support to the Confederate cause. But spiritual support was not enough for the Confederacy to win either the war in Tennessee or the regional war in the South.
        Most Tennesseans (white male voters) opposed attempts to secede Tennessee from the Union of American states. This opposition persisted even after the November 1860 election of Republican Abraham Lincoln caused South Carolina to lead a campaign to establish a southern nation. Slaves outnumbered whites in South Carolina, and the white minority there was notorious for its black codes, brutality against humanity, and racism. In Tennessee, a moderate white leader in Nashville, William F. Cooper, rightly said that unless the North moved decisively before Lincoln's inauguration (March 4, 1861), "the secession feeling is on the increase." Surely Governor Isham G. Harris had no reservation about committing treason against America, and he--like his counterpart in neighboring Arkansas--persisted in maneuvering Tennessee toward an alliance with the Confederate States of America. On January 1, 1861, Harris played the race card and said that "the President-Elect [Lincoln] asserted the equality of the black with the white race." Despite the opposition from a majority of free Tennesseans, Harris issued an "executive order" to withdraw Tennessee from the Union. On February 9, 1861, the voters (white males) rejected the governor's action. After Fighting broke out in South Carolina, however, in April of 1861, the Tennessee General Assembly voted to secede. The participating voters ratified secession on June 8, 1861, but in the face of great opposition.
        Instead of staying home and assuming (like most voters) that Governor Harris' Confederate movement would win anyway, nearly 50,000 Tennesseans voted against secession and treason. The East Tennesseans even held a Union Convention and started a movement to secede from Tennessee, with the intention of establishing a separate state that would remain loyal to the American Union as the West Virginians successfully did. But Harris' administration sent troops and scattered the East Tennessee leaders. Most non-slaveholders dared not voice too much opposition to the powerful minority Confederates in West and Middle Tennessee. Although they hated Lincoln and the abolitionists, not all slaveowners were disloyal to the Union; and some slaveholders refused to support the Confederacy. One owner, John Trimble of Davidson County, not only opposed the southern nationalists' war, but near the end of the war he voluntarily freed his slaves, became a leader in the local Republican party, and sold much of his land to Nelson Walker, a black barber and businessman. Walker used the land to begin Nashville's oldest surviving black neighborhood: Trimble Bottom. Meanwhile, the Confederates raised their Rebel flag over the State Capitol in Nashville on June 16, and the Confederate States of America included Tennessee by June 22, 1861.
        Although the Tennessee Confederates were outnumbered by the combination of pro-Union whites, black Tennesseans, and rebellious whites in East Tennessee, they continued to take effective measures to protect slavery and maintain illegal control of the state. Slave patrols were greatly increased to restrict the usual movement of slaves and free blacks. Around Christmas time, when slaves traveled into the towns in great numbers to shop and visit relatives and friends, the 1861 slave patrols became heavy, abusive, and notorious. To control the pro-Union whites, the Tennessee Confederates imposed conscription acts, loyalty tests, and domestic terror.
        Despite its coercive and intolerable acts against pro-Union whites and blacks, the Tennessee Confederate government had too little popular support to fight an effective war against a powerful Union army and a wealthy American nation. Tennessee's capable Confederate General Sidney S. Johnston struggled heroically, but he failed to build an effective Confederate Army of Tennessee. In heavily Unionist northwest Tennessee, the citizens refused to sell provisions and forage to the Confederate government. In East Tennessee, Confederate troops went hungry because supplies did not reach them in a timely way. The Confederate army's quartermaster (in charge of supplies) and engineering departments offered to hire slaves at fifty cents per day or twenty-five dollars per month plus rations, clothing, and quarters, but most slaveowners refused to lend their valuable slaves for military work. The Confederate military was forced to confiscate slave laborers and draft free blacks.
        Several military commanders petitioned the General Assembly to recruit free blacks "to do such menial service as they are competent to perform." On June 28, 1861, the legislature authorized a draft of free black men. This order affected some 2,000 blacks, but most free black men evaded the Confederate draft and the local sheriffs who tried to capture them. The draft yielded few results because free black males of military age (eighteen to forty-five years) were so few in numbers. Some free blacks (like J. C. Napier and his family) left Tennessee. Others fled to antislavery Quaker and German settlements and Union territories. William Scott, a free black migrant front North Carolina to Knoxville, later fled to Friendsville, near Knoxville, and then to Union-occupied Nashville to prevent Confederate impressment of his son. In 1865, Scott started the state's first black newspaper In Nashville, The Colored Tennessean.
        By February 16, 1862, the Tennessee Confederates--despite their pretending to be all-powerful--were easily defeated at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. Confederates from neighboring states answered Harris' call for more soldiers; nevertheless, a large Union army emerged from the Ohio Valley under General Ulysses S. Grant and compelled the Confederates to abandon the gateways to the Mid-South, The Confederates' calls for "loyal southerners" to rise against Americas loyal soldiers did no good: most Tennessee citizens stood outside the doors of their cabins and houses and watched in silence (sometimes the women waved their handkerchiefs) when the beaten Confederate soldiers and their tattered battle flags made their humiliating retreat toward Nashville. After all his proclamations and promises, Governor Harris himself caused unnecessary public panic when he went galloping foolishly through Nashville's streets shouting, "The Yankees are coming!"
       Once General Johnston, his army. and engineers retreated southward and arrived at Nashville, they decided to abandon the "Indefensible" city and flee east to Murfreesboro. Nashville citizens panicked and cursed General Johnston, but he had no real support and no acts, Governor Harris beat the main army out of town and followed Johnston's army, often serving as the General's courier to take desperate messages from one brigade to another. Then some elder men, who had attached military stripes to their trousers and pranced about Nashville with spiteful announcements against tile United States, quickly changed clothes and hid their empathy for the Confederates. Confederate casualties were rushed to military hospitals In Chattanooga, and Rebel stragglers looted Nashville's ware houses. Many pro-Confederate citizens loaded wagons and trains to head south to safety.
        A week later, when the advance Union army regiments camped on the opposite bank of tile Cumberland River, Nashville's officials rowed across and surrendered the city, rather than have it destroyed by the Union gunboats. Only seven months had passed since Harris and his minority Confederate party had forced the Tennessee government to join the rebellion against America. On February 23, 1862, the Union gunboats arrived, displaying bold armor; belching steam, smoke, and ashes; and generally showing America's economic and military might. It was a proud sight to loyal blacks and Union whites. A regimental band disembarked and proudly marched up Broad Street, playing Hail Columbia! amidst a crowd of Jubilant white and black Unionists dancing in the streets. Black children ran ahead, shouting, "The blue man's coming!" At the Capitol, William Driver, a Unionist citizen and former sea caption, tearfully asked that his American flag (which he named "Old Glory") be hoisted in place of "that damned Rebel flag." The Confederate flag (a symbol of slavery, treason, and racism) "was lowered from the state Capitol--the Rebel emblem never again would be the official flag of Tennessee.
        After some early victories against poorly organized Union armies in the eastern theater, the Confederate war effort took a turn for the worse in mid-1862. Although his Confederate state government was in exile and incapable of giving adequate resources to the Confederate army, Governor Harris continued to tag along when the Confederate Army of Tennessee lost the infamous Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862. Although they fought gallantly, General Johnston's hurriedly trained soldiers were forced to retreat into neighboring Corinth, Mississippi. Johnston's junior officers were no more competent (contrary to postwar myths fabricated by southern historians) to lead brigades than President Jefferson Davis and his ineffective cabinet were culpable of administering a regional "defensive war" (as they and other southern nationalists called it). Then Grant's forces took Corinth, Mississippi, and secured the rail lines into Memphis and West Tennessee. Union gunboats forced Memphis to surrender on June 6, 1862, forcing Governor Harris' state government and the notoriously racist Commercial Appeal newspaper staff to flee to Mississippi. Then black Memphians also danced in the streets.
        Meanwhile, the Confederacy lost control of the southern railroads, roads, and the important river systems. In the eastern theater of the war, the Confederate South's most able general (Robert E. Lee) began his famous retreat from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, enabling President Lincoln to later present his famous "Gettysburg Address." By early winter, the Confederate Army of Tennessee was forced to retreat from Kentucky to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where it lost the Battle of Stones River in early January. The Tennessee Confederate soldiers then retreated east to Chattanooga, where they lost successive battles; they were forced to flee to northern Georgia (above Atlanta) for refuge. In quick succession the Confederates lost Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Helena and Little Rock, Arkansas, by September 10, 1863.
       Many slaves realized that the Civil War meant the collapse of the slavocracy's power. ft also meant a revolutionary change in race relations and the de facto end of slavery in Tennessee.
       Like hundreds of other teenage black males, Wilson County slave George Knox was taken by his Confederate master to serve as a military laborer. When he and his fellow black Confederate servants heard that the Union army was winning the Battle of Stones River, Knox recalled, "I put on a long [sad but false] face as possible ... but I was secretly rejoicing at the success of the Union army." After reluctantly kissing his girl friend goodbye, Knox escaped into Union lines near Murfreesboro. There he became a federal teamster. Knox later followed some Union soldiers on furlough to Indiana, where he settled and became a barber and an operator of an Indianapolis newspaper. Knox's autobiography (printed in various issues of his newspaper) was edited by Williard B. Gatewood, Jr., and published under the title, Slave and Freeman (1979).
       Like Knox, many slave laborers shed their "Sambo" personalities, abandoned the Confederate camps and farms, and headed for Union army camps. At first most Union commanders allowed "loyal" slaveowners in Tennessee to retrieve their slaves from Union camps, but many black bondsmen heard via the black "grapevine" that they could qualify for freedom under the federal Contraband Act (August 6, 1861), which forbade the use of slaves and other contraband goods for making war against America. When the black refugees came into the Union camps, they quickly learned to say, "My master is a damned Rebel and fighting in the Confederate army." Then President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation (a psychological weapon) on September 22, 1862, which declared slaves free in territories still in rebellion against the United States by January 1, 1863. Although the Proclamation did not apply to Union-held Tennessee, the state's slaves were practically free any way. Nashville's black leaders celebrated their first Emancipation Day anniversary a year later.
       Comparatively, in Texas (Tennessee's sister state), where the Civil War battles never reached the vast interior, the slaves did not receive word of Emancipation until June 19, 1865 ("Juneteenth"). In many southern states, including parts of Tennessee, some slaves remained on the farms either because of total isolation, ignorance, and loyalty to the master's family or fear of military activities and the outside world. In order to act like a free person, one needed to experience "living free."
       Throughout the war, Tennessee's slaves continued to arrive by the thousands at Union camps. They frequently arrived with the master's wagon, mules, tools, and even bales of cotton to sell for the support of their slave families. Runaway slaves ignored the white mistress's empty threats and pleas to stay and help her with the farm. When pursuing the defeated Confederates in August of 1862 and traveling through West Tennessee, so many destitute fugitive slaves surrounded General Grant's federal army that he ordered Chaplain John Eaton to establish a contraband-camp system throughout the Mississippi Valley to house and feed the contrabands and put them to work on abandoned lands. Eaton established the first contraband camp at Grand Junction. By 1864, there were large contraband camps at Clarksville, Pulaski, Brentwood, Hendersonville, Edgefield, Nashville (two camps), Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis (three camps), Somerville, Brownsville, and throughout the Mississippi Valley. The "Shiloh" Contraband Camp in Memphis alone had over 300 log cabins and 2,000 inhabitants. Memphis' "New Africa" and "Camp Dixie" contraband camps held just as many black refugees. So many black faces surrounded the federal armies that it seemed a flood was about to drown the white man's fragile existence in the South. Unlike whites in West Tennessee, Mississippi, South Carolina, and many other parts of the South, the white Yankees had never before seen this phenomenon.
        The contraband camps became military processing stations where fugitive slaves were transformed into freedmen, wage earners, and precious labor for the Union army. There they received shelter (tents, log cabins, and plank houses), army rations (pork, corn meal, flour, beans, sugar, coffee, vinegar, salt, star candles, and potatoes), clothing, medicines, military or agricultural jobs, and wages. The army employed the contrabands as laborers at ten dollars per month for women and ten to thirty dollars a month for boys and men. More than 2,700 Union black laborers worked on Fort Negley (the largest Union fort west of Washington, D. C.) and twenty-three other redoubts and forts to protect Nashville. In the Memphis area alone, thousands of black laborers (including 800 at Fort Pickering) built Union forts and river fortifications. By March of 1864, thousands of black laborers and free blacks completed the Northwestern Military Railroad, a strategic line running seventy-five miles from Nashville to the Tennessee River, where northern steamers deposited huge quantities of military supplies in preparation for the Union army's attack on Atlanta, Georgia.
       By summer of 1863, the flood of fugitive slaves overwhelmed the Union army, causing
the federal commanders to invite help from northern churches and missionary societies, including the American Missionary Association. More than a dozen organizations, including the African Methodist Episcopal Church, answered the call to "toil in the vineyards" of Tennessee. The black and white northern missionaries helped to establish freedmen's institutions such as churches, schools, hospitals, and benevolent societies. These social welfare functions were assumed by the federal Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (Freedmen's Bureau) in March of 1865. Also, the Freedmen's Bureau began the process of legalizing the blacks' marriages and recording them in the county records by 1865 (see Freedmen's Marriage, 1865-1866, in various county records).
        Although the Union army tried to prevent it, the black tide flowed from Tennessee's farms and plantations, as well as from northern Georgia, northern Alabama, northern and central Mississippi, eastern Arkansas, and southern Kentucky. Even free blacks from the North came to Tennessee to fill non-commissioned officers' positions in black regiments and to seek economic and political opportunities in Reconstruction Tennessee. By 1864, thousands of blacks jammed Tennessee's Union camps and the cities; the Clarksville camp held over 3,000 contrabands and several missionary schools. In late 1865, the Freedmen's Bureau began a program to relocate "idle freedmen" from the urban areas back to the farms. The approximate number of relocated freedmen included 6,000 from Memphis and 4,000 from Nashville, with hundreds from Knoxville and Chattanooga.


       Black migration into Tennessee's towns and cities continued at a steady pace. Although by 1890 most black Tennesseans still lived in the rural areas, the state's black citizens soon became urbanized because of the Civil War. The sites of former contraband camps became black neighborhoods like Edgehill and Edgefield in Nashville and South Memphis ("Fort Pickering") in Memphis. In Knoxville and Chattanooga, too, former contraband sites became the foundation of urban black neighborhoods.
       Despite the presence of the Freedmen's Bureau, little economic opportunity developed for rural blacks during and immediately after the war. Almost all 355,731 acres of land confiscated from Tennessee's Confederates were returned to whites after 1866. Slaves were transformed into landed serfs, working white farms for shares (sharecrops) and wages barely enough for the necessities of human existence. In Giles County, 20,500 blacks engaged in sharecropping in 1866. In Wilson County, the blacks owned less than thirty of the 10,997 acres. In Fayette and Haywood counties in West Tennessee, the white minority allowed little land to fall into black hands. No more than 400 black Tennessee farmers owned their land by the end of 1866. By 1910, compared to most white Tennessee farmers, only 25.7 percent of Tennessee's black farmers owned their own land.
       A positive effect, however, of the Civil War was the Union army's transformation of blacks into Union army soldiers. Tennessee had over 55,000 black males of military age. On September 10, 1863, the Bureau of U. S. Colored Troops opened at 38 Cedar Street in Nashville. Soon recruiting stations existed throughout Tennessee. Among America's 179,000 USCT, some 20,133 USCT were raised in Tennessee. Thousands more of Tennessee's blacks served on Union naval ships on the Cumberland, the Tennessee, and the Mississippi River systems. Black Tennesseans also served as military laborers and spies in white Union regiments, and some 3,737 black men served in Tennessee's "Home Guards" militia units. By comparison, some 31,092 white Tennesseans served in the Union Army of Tennessee, and an estimated 115,000 Tennessee men served in Confederate military units.


        Free blacks helped with the formation of USCT units. Nelson Walker and other black Nashvillians organized a company of the 17th USCT Infantry Regiment, complete with an outstanding musical band. Samuel Lowery returned from the North and served as army chaplain and teacher for the 2nd U.S. Colored Light Artillery, Battery A, in Nashville. The 3rd USC Cavalry was organized in Memphis, but served mostly in Mississippi and Arkansas.
       Tennessee's 20,133 USCT served in every major skirmish, battle, engagement, and town within and around Tennessee during 1863-1866. Not only did Tennessee USCT units accompany Union General William T. Sherman to his Chattanooga staging base and then on to the famous and successful "March through Georgia," they also engaged enemy troops at Moscow (December of 1863), Fort Pillow (April of 1864), Brice's Crossroads (June of 1864), Tupelo (July of 1864), and Nashville (December of 1864).
        At Fort Pillow in West Tennessee, a black detachment from Memphis' Fort Pickering suffered a massacre at the hands of recalcitrant Confederate troops under General Nathan B. Forrest. General Forrest and some southern historians denied the massacre, but Forrest admitted that he enforced Confederate government policy to give black soldiers "no quarter" and treat all USCT as escaped, traitorous slaves. It was hypocrisy, however, that Confederate soldiers charged former slaves in the Union army with "treason," but denied after the war that service in the Confederate army was an act of treason against the United States of America. After the Fort Pillow massacre, the USCT in Memphis (whom native whites considered to be an arrogant bunch of black men) proudly pranced about town with medal badges that read, Remember Fort Pillow.
        However, the USCT regiments in Middle Tennessee were the ones who avenged Fort Pillow. The USCT (stationed in Chattanooga) who accompanied General Sherman saw the Confederate Army of Tennessee driven out of Atlanta, Georgia, in September of 1864. The Confederates and their General John Bell Hood headed west for an attack on Nashville, hoping to draw Sherman's 100,000-man army out of Georgia. That was not to be the case. On the bitterly cold days of December 15-19, 1864, about 13,000 USCT and 29,000 white Union troops under General George H. Thomas defeated Hood's Army of Tennessee (approximately 36,000 men) in the decisive Battle of Nashville. Thomas' two USCT brigades suffered 575 dead and Hundreds wounded. In one place, at the bottom of icy Overton (Peach Orchard) Hill, the USCT's dead and wounded were piled "five deep."
        The Confederates lost their last major army in the Upper South. They suffered some 6,000 casualties and the loss of six generals at the preceding Battle of Franklin (about thirty miles south of Nashville) on November 30, 1864. Then some 10,000 casualties (dead, wounded, and prisoners) were suffered on the Nashville battlefield just two weeks later. Some barefooted and shivering Confederate soldiers were glad to be captured by black soldiers. General Hood headed the remanants of his confused army south across the Tennessee River, then through Alabama into Oxford, Mississippi, where he resigned in humiliation by January 15, 1865.
        The commanding Union general at Nashville, George H. Thomas, said: "The blood of white and black [Union] men has flowed freely together for the great [American] cause, which is to give freedom. Colonel Charles H. Thompson of the 12th USCT Regiment and his brigade of Colored Troops exhibited courage and steadiness that challenged the admiration of all who witnessed the charge." The Nashville True Union reported, "The hills of Nashville will forever attest to how desperately the despised slave will fight when he strikes for freedom." When the USCT marched from the battlefield, the men sang a moving rendition of John Brown's Body ("Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! His soul is marching on!"), leaving few spectators without tears.
        John Brown, a fanatical white abolitionist, and his black and white vigilantes attacked Harper's Ferry, Virginia, on October 16, 1859, and fired the first shots of the coming Civil War in a futile effort to free and arm the local slaves. Brown, his son, and the black and white vigilantes lost their lives either in the battle or by hanging. Brown's memory and heroic efforts were preserved in the melodious songs of black people.
        Before the last black regiments were mustered out of service in 1866, about 5,107 USCT casualties were suffered from capture, disease, wounds, and death in Tennessee. The graves of the USCT still can be found in various national cemeteries: Nashville (1,909); Memphis (4,208--including the "Fort Pillow" section); Chattanooga (103); Knoxville (663); Cumberland River (12); and Stones River (186). After the war, some blacks made annual pilgrimages (even as late as 1979-1995 in Nashville) to the local national cemeteries to honor the black Union soldiers and view their tombstones marked distinctively USCT .
        There was a category of "black Confederates." Nearly 2,000 blacks (some voluntarily, but most involuntarily) served the Confederate Army of Tennessee in various capacities, including impressed servants, cooks, laborers, herders, and teamsters. When the Tennessee General Assembly amended the 1906 Confederate Pension Law in 1921 to include former ("loyal") black Confederate "workers, there were several black applicants. Recorded in the file of Caesar Hays are his words: "I stayed with my master until we were captured, and that was all I could do." Richard Lester of Wilson County could get no pension because he escaped when his master was captured at Fort Donelson. Monroe Stephenson of Maury County remained with Company B, 9th Tennessee Cavalry, until the last surrender.
        The Confederates in Richmond tried to organize black regiments. After receiving written support from General Lee, the Confederate Congress passed a law to organize slave soldiers in March of 1865. On the same day that President Lincoln made an impressive review of 25,000 black Union army soldiers on the James River, the Confederates precipitously paraded a slave regiment in Richmond, where they hoped that "our loyal slaves" would fight as effectively for the Rebels as the USCT then performed for the Yankees. But it was too late for a dying and desperate Confederacy.
        Blacks were of no real use to the Confederate war effort. There were too many barriers for the Confederates to overcome: their deep racial hatred for blacks; the slaveowners' opposition to the military use of valuable slaves; and the blacks' loyalty to the Union. All these factors negated any real gains the Confederates could realize through forced black participation in a white southern rebellion. In his book, Southern Negroes, 186l-1865 (1938), southern historian Bell I. Wiley wrote, "It hardly seems likely that slaves who greeted the Yankees and grasped freedom with such alacrity under ordinary circumstances would by the donning of Confederate uniforms have been transformed into loyal and enthusiastic fighters for the establishment of the institution of slavery." (p. 162.) The slavocracy moaned that the "slaves trusted most" were often the first to flee to the Yankee side.
        After four years of running around in circles, mostly in his home state, General Lee suffered the humiliation of surrendering the major Confederate army in Virginia on April 9, 1865. To make Confederate humiliation worse, President Lincoln and General Grant gave the USCT regiments the honor of being the first Union troops to occupy Richmond, the Confederate capital. Warned in advance by Lee, President Jefferson Davis and his officers commenced their desperate escape toward Mexico. Near Memphis, the 3rd USC Cavalry boarded Union gunboats and sped south on the Mississippi River to cut off Davis' escape. A jury of black and white men was set to try Davis for treason, but he later was released. After the Civil War, a white commander of the 14th USCT (which served in Gallatin, Chattanooga, and Pulaski, Tennessee), Colonel Thomas Jefferson Morgan, said:

       The black soldiers "were not mean toward Confederate sympathizers, and black leaders
sought no revenge against the slavocracy. When the USCT arrived in Richmond, the soldiers faithfully guarded the house of Davis' ailing wife, who had been left behind. Over in Tennessee, to mark the end of the Civil War, the Reverend Nelson Merry and other black Nashvillians held a mass meeting in the First Colored Baptist Church to pray for peace and to "forgive and forget the past." Throughout Tennessee, blacks prayed for peace, cheered for the Union victory, and took no revenge against their former masters. As late as July 5, 1875, black preacher Hezekiah Henley held a racial unity celebration in Memphis and invited some former Confederate generals, including the notorious Nathan B. Forrest. General Forrest, "the devil himself," said that he had been maligned and misunderstood by black people: "I assure you that every man who was in the Confederate army is your friend; and why should we not be brothers and sisters?" Forrest's words were ones of heartless and hollow utterances.
        The period of Reconstruction became the most arduous one in the African-American history of postbellum Tennessee. Reconstruction in Tennessee began ill March of 1862 when Tennessee's loyal U. S. Senator, Andrew Johnson of East Tennessee, was appointed military governor and arrived in Nashville to assume control of the government. A black leader, Elias Polk--a former servant to President James K. Polk--was among the local Unionist delegation which traveled to Murfreesboro to meet Johnson's train as it approached Nashville. When he spoke at the dedication of the Northwestern Military Railroad at Johnsonville on the Tennessee River in March of 1864, Governor Johnson urged Unionists to "go to the ballot box" and vote slavery dead in Tennessee. In the fall of 1864, black leaders organized a torchlight parade to honor Governor Johnson and petition for application of the Emancipation Proclamation to Tennessee. Johnson proclaimed himself "your Moses" and declared slavery dead in Tennessee. Blacks not only supported Johnson and Lincoln's policy, they held mock elections in November of 1864 for the reelection of Lincoln, with Johnson as vice presidential candidate.
        On January 2, 1865, nationally known black leader John Mercer Langston gave the address for Nashville's Second Annual Emancipation Day Celebration program. Three days earlier, Langston had visited thousands of triumphant USCT regiments that had returned to the city after pursuing the remnants of the Confederate army into Alabama after the Battle of Nashville. Later in January of 1865, the Tennessee General Assembly amended the state's constitution to prohibit slavery; voters ratified the amendment in February. In March, black Tennesseans held parades to celebrate the official end of slavery, and on April 5, 1865, the General Assembly ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. The amendment abolished slavery throughout the country by December 13, 1865.
        To effectively organize themselves to participate in the Reconstruction of Tennessee, on May 27, 1865, black leaders issued the call for their first State Colored Men's Convention. They met for several days in the early fall at Nashville's Saint John's African Methodist Episcopal Church. Some black leaders from Nashville and Memphis had been delegates to the National Colored Men's Convention in Syracuse, New York, during the summer of 1864, where they learned to articulate black issues and organize the freedmen. According to Scott's Nashville-based The Colored Tennessean of August 12, 1865, the first Tennessee State Colored Men's Convention called for final ratification of "the 13th National Amendment, as well as citizenship and black suffrage." A militant delegate, Sergeant Henry J. Maxwell (representing the Memphis 3rd LT. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, Company B), said:

       In vain the black leaders petitioned the all-white Tennessee General Assembly, but conservative whites controlled the legislature, even though most of them were Republicans. Nightriders terrorized loyal East Tennessee and rural black communities throughout the state. White terror and anarchy caused General George H. Thomas to bring more Union soldiers into Tennessee. The legislature passed an "act to define the term 'person of color'," but not to give blacks full citizenship rights. Black leaders successfully petitioned the Congress to deny Tennessee's return to the Union.
       On May 26, 1866, the General Assembly did give persons of color the rights to make contracts, sue, inherit property, and have equal benefits with the whites under the laws and for protection of life and property. But this measure was passed only after the Memphis race riot of May 6, 1866, left forty-eight blacks and two whites dead. The Congress passed the Civil Rights Bill of 1866 and overrode President Andrew Johnson's veto on July 16, granting citizenship to the blacks. About the same time that the Congress acted, the Tennessee General Assembly ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, which eventually (1868) provided constitutional guarantees for (1) full citizenship; (2) equal protection tinder the laws; and (3) due process for former slaves. As a result of state ratification, Tennessee was readmitted o July 24, 1866, into the united American states.
       Yet, blacks still could not vote. On June 13, 1866, black leaders issued the call for the second Tennessee State Colored Men's Convention, to meet on August 6, 1866, in Nashville's Saint John's African Methodist Episcopal Church. Delegates arrived from Bedford, Blount, Davidson, Dekalb, Giles, Hamilton, Knox, Marshall, McMinn, Montgomery, Robertson, Rutherford, Shelby, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson counties. Among the black leaders were Sampson W. Keeble, Daniel Wadkins, Nelson G. Merry, Nelson Walker, Nelson McGavock, Berber Alexander, George King, Edward Merriweather, Adolphus Smith, Alfred E. Anderson, Samuel and Peter Lowery, William Sumner, Benjamin Holmes, Charles Mullins, and E. D. Livingston. These black men were mostly educated, articulate, and brave in their campaign to assure voting rights for black Tennesseans.
       In pursuit of black suffrage, the State Colored Men's Convention delegates organized a Tennessee chapter of the National Equal Rights League. Then Tennessee's black leaders organized crowds to daily demonstrate at the General Assembly's chambers "until a black suffrage bill is passed."The Knoxville Whig of February 6, 1867, reported that so many blacks sat in the legislature's gallery, that it looked like "The gathering clouds of dusky humanity. . . ." On February 25, 1867, the Tennessee legislature granted blacks the right to vote (and hold office), and the governor signed the bill the following day. In March of 1867, the blacks held their first political meetings to organize the black vote. Black Nashvillians first voted in the city's election of September, 1867, and elected two black councilmen, of whom one--Daniel Wadkins--was not seated. For reasons unknown, a white man was appointed to fill Wadkins' seat. Black Tennesseans voted in their first presidential election (since 1832) during the November 1868 election and cast almost all their votes for General Ulysses S. Grant for President of the United States.
       As a result of their new found political power, black Tennesseans gained several public offices and enjoyed a marriage with the Republican party for more than three generations after Emancipation. In September of 1868, Nashville elected five blacks to the city council. Through the 1880s, blacks not only occupied city council seats in Nashville and other towns, but held city and county positions, including magistrate and justice of the peace. Due to the political skills of black leader Edward Shaw, Memphis had as many as six black councilmen during the 1870s. Edward Shaw obtained the lucrative job of wharfmaster. In 1876, Knoxville's William F. Yardley became the first black man to campaign for governor of Tennessee.
       The rising political power of the blacks and the Republicans caused a violent reaction from native whites, who believed that the Radical Republicans were taking racial equality too far. The Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacy organization headed by former Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest, began a campaign of terrorism in 1866. The KKK murdered white Unionists, lynched outspoken black leaders, and burned many freedmen's schoolhouses and churches. Despite the terrorism, black voters continued to turn out in huge numbers all over the state, and federal troops and state militiamen launched effective police action against organized white violence. Finally, in 1869, Forrest personally dissolved the Klan after a highly publicized "KKK Convention"in Nashville. However, white supremacists, Democrats, and Conservatives soon returned to political power.
       As early as the September 1869 elections, the triad of white supremacists, Democrats, and Conservatives regained power in Nashville. The black voters divided themselves into three political factions: (1) Elias Polk and former-slave house servants, who supported the native elite white Democrats (Conservatives); (2) Randal Brown and black street-crew bosses and others, who supported the Radical Republicans (carpetbaggers) in Davidson County; and (3) Nelson Walker, Henry Harding, and other elite black entrepreneurs, who backed the native (moderate) Republicans. In 1870, the Democrat and Conservatives won the state elections because of more divisions in Tennessee, Republican party and because white Conservatives controlled the county registrar positions. From Memphis to Knoxville, the Conservatives employed white hoodlums and tactics of intimidation and violence against the freedmen at the polls to "redeem" state government. Several Former Confederates also won public office; even former Confederate Governor Isham G. Harris eventually won election as a U. S. senator from Tennessee. The new Tennessee General Assembly quickly repealed the State Militia Act and the anti-terrorist acts, thereby removing obstacles to the white Radicals' violent anti-black attacks and lynching activities.
       Still, by the mid-1880s some thirteen blacks won election to the Tennessee General Assembly. Nine of these men came from five heavily black counties in West Tennessee. In East Tennessee, Hamilton County sent two blacks to the legislature, although that county's black population was only thirty percent of the total citizenry. Among the early black legislators were Sampson W. Keeble and Thomas A. Sykes of Davidson County; Thomas F. Cassels, Isham F. Norris, Leonard Howard, Greene E. Evans, and William A. Fields of Shelby County; John W. Boyd of Tipton County; Samuel A. McElwee of Haywood County; David F. Rivers and Monroe W. Gooden of Fayette County; and William C. Hodge and Styles L. Hutchins of Hamilton County. Another black man, J. M. H. Graham of Clarksville, was elected to the House of Representatives in 1896, but the white members refused to seat him. Six decades would pass before any other blacks were elected to the Tennessee General Assembly.
       Once they regained control of the state, the white Conservatives imposed poll taxes and other electoral laws that gradually disenfranchised most black voters in Tennessee; the disenfranchisement of black Tennesseans was nearly complete in the rural areas by the early 1900s. Even the Tennessee Republican party began a "lily-white" movement (as black leaders called it) to exclude blacks and attract more whites to the party. Blackleaders resisted the "lily-white" movement and continued to support"good Republicans" on the state and national levels, but they voted for fusionist and moderate Democratic candidates on the city and county levels. A few blacks continued to run for public office, and some of them were elected to minor offices. A black attorney, Solomon Parker Harris, won a Nashville city council seat in 1911--the first since 1885.
       After the Civil War, blacks feverishly engaged in efforts to build a black political economy. Black Nashville had its first black-owned drug store by 1886, as well as six blocks of black businesses housed on the town's Cedar Street by the 1950s. Between 1865 and 1874, four Freedman's Savings and Trust Company Bank branches operated in the state in Chattanooga, Columbia, Memphis, and Nashville. The Freedman's Bank at Nashville was the largest and most prosperous one in Tennessee, and in 1872 it built its own building,Liberty Hall, at 44 Cedar Street. The economic depressions of the 1870s and fraud by white managers of the main branch in Washington, D. C., caused all Freedman's banks to collapse in March of 1874. Between 1870 and 1884,blacks like William Sumner and Henry Harding operated their own hotels in downtown Nashville. In South Memphis ("Fort Pickering"), too, black businesses dotted the black neighborhoods.
       In spite of hard-won advancement after the Civil War, thousands of blacks joined the Black Exodus out of Tennessee because of poor economic conditions and campaigns of terrorism by radical whites. Only seventy-nine percent of the blacks remained in Tennessee after the war, compared to ninety-five percent in Arkansas and eighty-eight percent in Texas. After 1890, black migration (caused by economic, political, and racial oppression) was directed toward the industrial towns of the North. Tennessee's black population declined from twenty-six percent to only sixteen percent by 1995.
       Because of economic oppression and the white Conservatives' rapid return to political power, by 1869 some of Nashville's black leaders encouraged the former slaves to join the Black Exodus to Kansas and western homestead lands. Black Nashvillians held a meeting on September 11, 1869, where black city councilman Randal Brown urged black people: "let us go where we can grow lawyers, doctors, teachers, and other things; where we can be as good as anyone in society. Brown and four other black councilmen had just suffered defeat by the white Conservatives in the September elections. But some black leaders, notably the conservative Reverend Daniel Wadkins, feared a black exodus from Tennessee"when the [white] people are trying to procure [Chinese] laborers...." to replace black workers.
       Benjamin "Pap" Singleton, a fifty-two-year-old mulatto and former Davidson County slave, forged ahead with plans to take black settlers to the West (i.e., Kansas). Singleton noted that even though blacks comprised one-third of Middle Tennessee's population, only six percent of black families owned any land by 1870. Although by 1886 black Tennesseans owned taxable property worth $2l1,768,438,as late as 1910 only twenty-five percent of black farmers owned their lands. In West Tennessee, where blacks comprised nearly forty percent of the population, they were mostly sharecroppers and laborers.
        Around 1870, Singleton joined forces with the Reverend Columbus M. Johnson of Sumner County and Abram Smith of Nashville to form the Edgefield Real Estate and Homestead Association. Johnson, Smith, and Singleton had been skilled slave artisans. They sent a committee to study settlement in Kansas in 1872 and petitioned the 1873 Tennessee State Colored Men's Convention for support. The 1875 Tennessee State Colored Men's Convention discussed the issue of black migration to the West and formed the Colored Emigration Society of Tennessee. The convention's delegates blamed the freedmen's misfortunes on "the. . .white people of Tennessee. . .[where]. . the color line is so closely drawn as ... to prevent us from sitting on juries ...."
       By holding dances, parties, and fairs, Singleton and the Association raised money to help transport thousands of blacks to Kansas. Singleton personally directed nearly 8,000 blacks via steamboat and train to Kansas. By June of 1879, he had founded the Dunlap colony in Morris County, Kansas. Although the exodus stopped around 1881, from Nashville alone the out-migration of blacks during the Black Exodus period numbered 2,407 persons. In addition, thousands of blacks migrated front West Tennessee into Arkansas to seek homestead lands and higher farm wages. The Black Exodus from Tennessee was but one strategy by blacks to achieve equality and economic rights. Most black Tennesseans chose to stay and fight racism at home, as Frederick Douglass so eloquently advised them when he spoke in Nashville in September of 1873.
       Between 1881 and 1921, black Tennesseans led their second civil rights movement: one that sought equal rights under the new Jim Crow (so named for an early nineteenth-century minstrel show character) system. As if to provoke the blacks toward this second movement, in 1881 Tennessee passed the nation's first Jim Crow (racial segregation) law. The law segregated railroad trains and caused black Nashvillians to lead their first freedom-ride demonstration by buying first-class tickets and attempting to board the cars. Jim Crow legislation flowed from the southern legislatures until the crescendo reached a climax in the 1890s. The U. S. Supreme Court sanctioned the Jim Crow system in 1896, when it ruled in the case of Plessy versus Ferguson that "separate but equal" public facilities did not violate black citizens' rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. By 1900, most black Tennesseans tolerated the southern Jim Crow system. Many elite black leaders embraced Booker T. Washington's philosophy, which compromised and accommodated the whites' racial feelings in exchange for separate black schools, institutions, and economic concessions.
       However, some black leaders continued to protest against Jim Crow's unfair practices.The leaders of this civil rights movement were elite blacks, who ironically supported Booker T. Washington's accommodationist philosophy yet opposed Jim Crow laws which denied equal (first-class) accommodations to upper-class blacks. The whites, however, did not recognize classes among Negroes, although some blacks were educated and wealthy. When the General Assembly passed a Jim Crow streetcar law in March of 1905, elite blacks launched public protests and even operated the Union Transportation Company in Nashville (1905-1907) and a streetcar company in Chattanooga, rather than ride in segregated cars. The early streetcar boycotts died because the elite blacks could not evoke the participation of the black masses, as grassroots civil rights leaders letter would do successfully during the third civil rights movement in the post-World War Two era. Still, the second civil rights movement continued with intensity through the 1920s.
        By 1911, a branch of the National Urban League was operating in Tennessee, in an effort to improve the social conditions of urban blacks. Soon there were active branches of the Colored Young Men's Christian Association in some Tennessee cities. In the North in 1910, former Tennesseans Mary Church Terrell and Ida B.Wells-Barnett were founding members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1918, Robert Church, Jr., and other blacks formed the Memphis chapter of the NAACP; a Nashville chapter followed in January of 1919; and soon Nashville's James C. Napier led alarge public march to present the governor with a petition against racial lynchings. William J. Hale, head of the Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School for Negroes, and other black leaders helped moderate whites form the Commission on Interracial Cooperation. By 1921, Chattanooga had a branch of Marcus Garvey's more militant Universal Negro Improvement Association.
       Racial oppression, however, continued in Tennessee, and more Jim Crow legislation flowed from the Tennessee General Assembly after 1921: the elite whites approved it, and the middle- and professional-class whites passed the laws to enforce it. It was the radical whites who used violence to keep blacks behind the Jim Crow line. The elite whites enjoyed a return to power and a sense of royalty. Then, just as in the days of slavery, neither the poor and middle-class whites nor the blacks (even the elite ones) could threaten elite white society.
       Between 1890 and 1950, racial lynchings plagued Tennessee. Approximately 235 black Americans lost their lives to lynch mobs in 1892, and 204 blacks suffered lynchings in Tennessee between 1890 and 1950. Frederick Douglass came to Nashville on May 20,1892, to speak at First Colored Baptist Church just after the brutal lynching of a black in Goodlettsville and another one on Nashville's Woodland Street Bridge. A Memphis black school teacher, Ida B. Wells, wrote a stinging article in her newspaper, the Memphis Free Speech" against a recent lynching. The result was that the whites burned the newspaper office in March of 1892 and forced Wells to flee to the North to live in exile. Wells and Douglass became America's most able speakers and international crusaders against lynching.
       Thousands of black Tennesseans began the Black Northern Migration around 1890. when they headed to industrial centers like Indianapolis,Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Detroit. Because of the Black Northern Migration and the immigration of whites to Nashville, the city's black population decreased from forty percent in 1890 to only twenty-two percent by the 1970s. In Memphis, the blacks lost their majority and did not regain it until the 1980s. Just as early twentieth-century black Southerners fled to the North to seek Justice and jobs, some four million poor white southerners joined them in the North. Then race riots soon became modern phenomena in northern cities. From 1870 to 1930, Tennessee's black population declined from 25.6 percent to 18.3 percent.
       Despite the out-migration of many capable and ambitious blacks from Tennessee, the state's black communities continued to make social and cultural progress. Most large black communities had newspapers, including Nashville's Colored Tennessean (1865-66), Tennessee Star (1880s), and Globe (1905-60); Memphis' Free Speech (1880s-92), Moon Illustrated Weekly (1905), and Ed Shaw's The Memphis Planet ; and Chattanooga's Blade (early 1900s) and the Observer . In Nashville, there were three largeblack religious publishing houses: AME Sunday, School Union (1882- ), National Baptist Publishing Board (1896- ), and Sunday School Publishing Board ofthe National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Incorporated (1915- ).
       In addition to being the founder of the NBPB, the Reverend Richard H. Boyd helped other black leaders push a progressive business movement in Tennessee, urging blacks to "buy black," to vote for "good Republicans,"to start businesses, and to purchase homes. Several chapters of Booker T. Washington's Negro Business League operated in Tennessee after 1902, and Nashville's J. C. Napier became president of the National Negro Business League. By 1910, there were black owned-and-operated banks, insurance branches, real estate agencies, and recreational parks in Tennessee. Memphis' Bert Roddy organized the Negro Southern Baseball League. Robert R. Church, Sr., built a recreational park for blacks on Beale Street in 1899. By 1905, Nashville's Preston Taylor had opened his huge Greenwood Park on Lebanon Road. In July of 1912, Nashville opened the nation's first public park for blacks (Hadley Park) and a Negro Carnegie Library.
       Black Tennesseans also enjoyed a cultural renaissance. Between 1898 and 1915, several blackprinting companies published many books and treatises to advance the blackman's cause. The Baptist minister Sutton E. Griggs wrote and published thirty-three books while living in Nashville and later Memphis. In 1915, black companies in Tennessee had published dozens of books, and Fisk Universitystarted its own University press. (This renaissance spirit was revivedin 1976, with publication of Alex Haley's highly popular, Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Roots.)
       Postbellum Tennessee had several major black colleges: RogerWilliams University-- formerly Nashville Normal and Theological Institute(1866-1929); Fisk University (1866- ); Walden University--formerly CentralTennessee College (1868-1922); Tennessee Manual Labor University (1868-1874);LeMoyne College--now LeMoyne-Owen College (1869- ); Knoxville College (1876-); Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College--now Tennessee StateUniversity (1912- )--Meharry Medical College--formerly part of Walden University(1915- ); National Baptist Training School and Theological Seminary (1918-1934); American Baptist Theological Seminary--now American Baptist College (1924- ).
       In 1920, Tennessee took the center stage inthe women's suffrage movement, as women across the nation sought the thirty-sixth state needed to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, granting women the right of "full franchise." In Nashville, blackwomen such as J. Frankie Pierce and Mattie E. Coleman formed coalitionswith white women to secure female suffrage. Dr. Coleman, a Meharry Medical School graduate and community leader during the First World War, was the impetus behind the September 3, 1918, formation of the Women's Missionary Council of the Christian Episcopal Church. Coleman became the new organization's first president. Frankie Pierce was among Nashville's First black public school teachers in the 1880s, founder of the City Federation of ColoredWomen's Clubs, and a founder of the Tennessee Federation of Colored Women's Clubs. On May 18, 1920, Pierce addressed the first meeting of the Tennessee League of Women Voters in the chambers of the Tennessee House of Representatives,saying:

       After Tennessee ratified the Nineteenth Amendmenton August 18, 1920, and removed the immediate poll tax for female voters,black women voted in their first election in Nashville during the fall of 1920. According to newspaper accounts, black women voters tuned outin greater numbers than did black male voters. Among the black female leaders who cheered the result was Nettie Langston Napier, who had worked the Republican polls on the black side of town (as many black women did, with badges pinned to their dresses) since the 1870s. Like the male members of their families, the black suffragists remained Republicans, but they voted Democratic on the local level. As a result of women's new political influence and Frankie Pierce's tireless efforts, the General Assembly passed a bill creating the Tennessee Vocational School for Colored Girls (to be located on Nashville's Heiman Street) on April 7, 1921.
       Economic depression plus white racism (Jim Crowism)left most black Tennesseans and their offspring unable to compete in apost-World War One society dominated by white Conservatives. Memphis' one black bank collapsed in 1927. Nashville's Peoples Savings and Trust Company Bank closed in 1930; the city's Citizens Bank was balled out of financial trouble by the New Deal's Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Blackbarber shops, beauty shops, and funeral homes seemed immune to the economic depression. Certainly, black death rates (i.e., infant mortality) far exceeded white death rates, and black prison and jail rates, as well as health statistics,were shameful in Tennessee. After slavery (1866), blacks had lower arrest and jail rates than whites, but by the 1880s black arrests and imprisonment exceeded those for white Tennesseans, partly due to racially, unfair police and court systems.
       Indeed, a combination of economic and social Jim Crowism, plus political impotency, left black Tennesseans too weak to be competitive with whites in the twentieth century. Only twenty-five percent of black Tennesseans were skilled or professional workers by 1930, and during the 1930s only, some 900 black Tennesseans were graduated annually from high school. Although Memphis had twenty-three teachers and five black schools in 1885, there was no black high school until the 1920s. Nashville's blacks gained a high school (Meigs) by, the late 1880s, but only after public protest. Many Tennessee counties had no public schools for blacksbeyond the middle grades until the Julius Rosenwald Fund provided moneyto build them. In a city as progressive as Nashville, the all-white schoolboard allocated only seven dollars per black pupil, compared to more thanthirteen dollars for the education of each white student.
       As early, as 1940, half of black Tennesseans performed domestic and menial service jobs. Rural blacks mostly sharecropped or picked cotton for two to three dollars per hundred, earning less than four hundred dollars per year as late as the 1950s. In Memphis until the 1950s, crowds of blacks stood on street corners before daybreak, waiting for buses to transport them to cotton fields in rural West Tennessee, northern Mississippi, and eastern Arkansas to earn two-to-three dollars a day picking cotton. Entire urban black families made their seasonal earnings this way. Therefore, after successful military service in World War Two (repetitiveof military achievements during the First World War), black Tennesseansbegan a third phase of their civil rights movement.
       Black Tennesseans first launched an attack on educational Jim Crow during the 1940s. They used the federal courts to sue for desegregation of the graduate school at the University of Tennessee, equal pay for black and white public school teachers, and equal curricula in black schools. Blacks in Clinton successfully filed a federal court suit to desegregate the town's schools in 1951, causing white Radicals to bomb the school in 1958. After the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1954 Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas case that separate but equal w as unconstitutional, Nashville's A. Z. Kelly (a barber and parent) and black attorneys Z. A. Looby and Avon N. Williams, Jr., successfully sued the Nashville Board of Education after black children were denied admission to a white public school in the fall of 1955. This success also caused white Radicals to bomb an integrated school. In Memphis ("the capital of Mississippi," as militant young blacks often expressed their cynicism) the public schools did not desegregate until 1961, although Memphis State University began "gradual desegregation" during 1955-1959. Rather than attend the public schools with black people, white Memphians (many of whom, indeed, had their roots in Mississippi) created one of America's largest private school systems, leaving Memphis' public schools almost all black by 1995.
       Black Tennesseans also took aim at social Jim Crow. In l959, the Reverend Kelly Miller Smith (pastor of Nashville's historic First Colored Baptist Church), the Reverend James Lawson (divinity student), and local college students began training for sit-in demonstrations. They intended to bring civil disobedience to bear as a weapon to dismantle Jim Crow in public places. Smith, a friend of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., believed in the social activism of the black church. Beginning in February of 1960, the students and the Nashville Southern Christian Leadership Conference continued months of public demonstrations until Mayor Ben West and the city's leaders voluntary desegregated downtown public facilities, making Nashville the first southern city to voluntarily end segregation.
       The attack on political Jim Crowism was in progress by 1948. Nashville blacks formed the "Solid Block" and published the Solid Block Newspaper in 1949, in an effort to force the General Assembly to repeat the poll tax. After extensive debate and having received many petitions, the legislature repealed the tax, and as a result, in 1950, two black men (Robert L. Lillard and Z. Alexander Looby) were elected to Nashville's city council. In rural Fayette County during 1959-1965, John and Viola McFerrin led blacks in revolt against the Jim Crow voting system, causing whites to evict thousands of black sharecroppers from their homes. In 1965, the rural blacks regained the right to register, vote, and hold local public offices. In Memphis, black leaders Russell Sugarmon, Benjamin Hooks, A. W. Willis, Jr., and others led a renewal of black politics under a new banner; the Democratic party. Although they lost their first elections, the experience left the black leaders with political acumen and organizations that eventually would gain black political power. In 1965, Memphis sent a black man, Archie W. Willis, Jr., to the state House of Representatives--he was the first black elected to the General Assembly since Fayette County Democrat Monroe Gooden (1887-89). Between 1966 and 1971, the General Assembly included ten other blacks: Senator J. O. Patterson and representatives Dorothy Brown, Russell B. Sugarmon, Jr., M. G. Blakemore, Harold Love, Alvin King, Avon N. Williams, Jr., Ira Murphy, Robert Booker, and James I. Taylor. Representative Love served faithfully for more than a quarter of a century. The black civil rights movement (which included demands for economic justice) continued to sweep across Tennessee, ostensibly to culminate in 1968 with the murder of national civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., during the black sanitation workers' strike in Memphis. In 1969-70, however, black Memphians led their successful "Black Mondays" to boycott the public schools and force the city to change its at-large school board seats to districts, so that blacks also could serve on that governing body.
       Yet Tennessee remained a state where descendants of Confederates and slaveholders and their supporters waved the bloody flag of Civil War. For example, over the objections of black citizens led by Leo Lillard and others, conservative whites and neo-Confederates placed a bust of the former head of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan B. Forrest, in the Capitol rotunda. They also supported monuments and state pensions for participants in the "Lost Cause," daring others to speak against such historical foolishness. Because of their political allies in the General Assembly, their operative heritage organizations, and their aggressive intimidation of "pro-Union" writers and speakers, the neo-Confederates of Tennessee managed to postpone the placement of a statue of President Andrew Johnson until one was erected at last on the State Capitol grounds on October 18, 1995. Ironically (for the sake of accurate history), a Republican governor presided over the ceremonies. The correct revision of Tennessee's history remains underway.
       Through the 1970s, black Tennesseans continued to redeem their rights and bring equity and justice into an unfair Tennessee society, where citizens of color were assigned positions on the bottom. After the federal court ordered the reapportionment of Tennessee's political districts, Memphis' Harold Ford, former state representative and graduate of Tennessee State University, became in 1974 the first black to represent Tennessee in the U. S. Congress, where he has served twenty years. To advance desegregation efforts, Tennessee State University (formerly Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial) and the University of Tennessee's Nashville branch campus were merged in July of 1979 under the name Tennessee State University. Ten years of court cases (Geier versus Tennessee) by a group of black and white plaintiffs and attorney Avon N. Williams, Jr., had resulted in this historic pairing. An ironical outcome of the Geier versus Tennessee case was that it initiated in the 1980s and 1990s a movement by middle-class whites and white Conservatives to dismantle "racially identifiable" public colleges (i.e. Tennessee State University) and oppose "special privileges" (affirmative action programs) for any racial group.
       All the aforementioned changes helped transform Tennessee's black communities for better and worse by 1995. African Americans earned less than half the average income for local white families in 1960. White businessmen and governmental officials continued to shut African Americans out of the state's economic prosperity, except as cheap laborers. In 1967, only one hundred and sixty-eight blacks were employed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the Knoxville area, whereas poor and less-educated whites received TVA employment in greater numbers. By 1970, some thirty-eight percent of Tennessee black families lived below the poverty level. The percentage of black high-school graduates ranged from fifty- four percent in Davidson County (a percentage higher than that for whites in many Tennessee counties) to only, 16.6 percent in Cheatham County by 1980. By 1986, however, approximately 27,514 blacks attended the state's colleges and universities.
       Through the mid-1990s, black Tennesseans continued to make slow progress. In the State of the Black Economy, a report to the Twenty-first Annual Legislative Retreat (November 16-19, 1995), it was shown that Tennessee's black population increased by 1990 to sixteen percent (778,000), with forty-six percent of the total (360,000) living in Shelby County and the next largest percentage (119,000) residing in Davidson County. (Pp. 1-7.) Fayette County (44.19%) and Haywood County (49.65%) also had large black population percentages. In 1995, blacks comprised over fifteen percent of the students in Tennessee's colleges and universities. Yet only fifty-nine percent of blacks twenty-five and older were high-school graduates and some ten percent had completed college, compared to sixty-eight percent and Seventeen percent, respectively, for white Tennesseans. In further comparison, some sixty-three percent of America's black adults completed high school, and eleven percent were college graduates by 1990. As in the nineteenth century, over half of black Tennesseans remained in lower-skilled jobs, and black households earned only sixty-three percent of the income earned by white Tennessee households by 1989 (some 32.4% of blacks and only 12.5% of whites in Tennessee lived in poverty, by 1989).
       In the 1990s, however, black Tennesseans moved toward the twenty-first century without hesitation. A black man, W. W. Herenton. became mayor of Memphis, Tennessee's largest city. Other blacks held the mayor's job in other towns, including Jonesborough in East Tennessee. A black man, James Walker, became president of the white Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, and several of Tennessee's state commissioners were black men and women. Otis Floyd, former president of Tennessee State University, became chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents. Across the state, black men and women engaged more than 10,000 small and large businesses in the fields of technology, manufacturing, communications, health care, finance, and other services and products. By 1993, black business people annually added about $6,000,000,000 to Tennessee's economy.
       To sustain this progress and overcome persistent obstacles, an active and influential caucus of black state legislators provided leadership in identifying problems and solutions for gaining economic equality for Tennessee's black citizens. At the Annual Black Caucus Retreat each November, citizens from across Tennessee met to discuss problems and develop legislation and solutions. The meetings' serious tone was reminiscent of the old State Colored Men's Conventions of 1865-1885: perhaps African-American history had come full circle in Tennessee.
       Thus, by 1995 African Americans in Tennessee--whose legacy is a long story of triumph over human slavery, tragedy, Jim Crow, and racism--stand poised on the threshold of the twenty-first century to continue to make significant contributions to Tennessee history.