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Resolution RS2020-230

A Resolution recognizing the 60th anniversary of the Nashville Sit-Ins.

WHEREAS, on February 13, 1960, students from Fisk University, Baptist Theological Seminary, and Tennessee State University entered Kress, Woolworth’s, and McClellan stores at 12:40 p.m. in downtown Nashville; and

WHEREAS, after making purchases at these stores, the students sat-in at the lunch counters; and

WHEREAS, this was the first of the Nashville Sit-Ins, which lasted from February 13 to May 10, 1960, and were among the earliest nonviolent direct-action campaigns in the 1960s to end racial segregation in the South; and

WHEREAS, these sit-in campaigns were organized by the Nashville Student Movement and Nashville Christian Leadership Council, and included Fisk University students Diane Nash and John Lewis as key leaders of the movement; and

WHEREAS, additional sit-ins occurred at lunch counters at Greyhound and Trailways bus terminals, Grant’s Variety Store, Walgreen’s Drugstore, and local Nashville department stores Cain-Sloan and Harveys; and

WHEREAS, on February 27, 1960, the students encountered the first violent response to their protest when they were attacked by a white group opposing desegregation. While 81 protesters were arrested, police arrested none of the white attackers; and

WHEREAS, in the midst of this growing racial tension, Mayor Ben West appointed a biracial committee to investigate segregation in Nashville. Despite attempts at a compromise, the students held firm and would accept nothing less than the acknowledgement of their rights to sit at the store lunch counters alongside white customers; and

WHEREAS, on April 19, 1960, a bomb destroyed to home of defense attorney and civil rights leader Z. Alexander Looby, who represented many of the protesters. While the home was nearly destroyed, neither Mr. Looby nor his wife were injured. This served as a catalyst for the movement and triggered a massive march to the Metropolitan Courthouse and City Hall where several thousand protesters confronted Mayor West; and

WHEREAS, it was on the steps of the Metropolitan Courthouse during this protest when Diane Nash famously asked Mayor West if it was wrong for a citizen of Nashville to discriminate against his fellow citizens because of his race or skin color, and if the lunch counters in Nashville should be desegregated; and

WHEREAS, Mayor West answered that discrimination based on race or skin color is wrong, and that Nashville’s lunch counters should be desegregated, resulting in an important symbolic victory for the movement; and

WHEREAS, on May 10, 1960, after weeks of protests and secret negotiations between merchants and protest leaders, six downtown stores opened their lunch counters to black customers for the first time; and

WHEREAS, the Nashville campaign became a model for other civil rights protests in the 1960s and 1970s; and

WHEREAS, for these reasons, it is fitting and proper for the Metropolitan Council to recognize the 60th anniversary of the Nashville Sit-Ins.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY:

Section 1. That the Metropolitan County Council hereby goes on record as recognizing the 60th anniversary of the Nashville Sit-Ins, which were a significant event for the Civil Rights Movement and for the City of Nashville.

Section 2. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsor(s)

Burkley Allen, Delishia Porterfield, Freddie O'Connell, Sharon Hurt, Kyonzté Toombs, Joy Styles, Brandon Taylor

Legislative History

Referred toRules, Confirmations, and Public Elections Committee

IntroducedMarch 5, 2020

AdoptedMarch 5, 2020

ApprovedMarch 9, 2020

ByMayor Cooper's signature

Requests for ADA accommodation should be directed to the Metropolitan Clerk at 615-862-6770.

Last Modified: 03/10/2020 11:28 AM