Apr 19, 2022 - News

Fisk University getting shattered civil rights plaque

Pieces of the broken plaque at Fisk University
Photo: courtesy of Alan Poizner and Mayor John Cooper's office

Broken pieces of a plaque commemorating civil rights activists in Nashville will be donated to Fisk University on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The plaque was broken in May 2020, when a march protesting George Floyd's death was followed by a burst of vandalism at the courthouse. Some in the crowd shattered the plaque and used the pieces to break windows, according to the mayor's office.

  • Many of the broken shards were collected and will be part of a new, permanent exhibit at the Fisk library.

Driving the news: Mayor John Cooper's office is donating the plaque, while K&L Gates law firm is sponsoring the exhibit.

  • The exhibit will include a documentary about desegregation in Nashville.

Flashback: On April 19, 1960 — after months of protests against segregation — Black Councilmember Z. Alexander Looby's home was bombed. Several thousand activists marched to the steps of the historic courthouse in protest.

  • The plaque described an exchange between then-Mayor Ben West and Diane Nash, a Fisk student at the time. At Nash's urging, West told the crowd he believed segregation at downtown lunch counters was wrong.
  • Lunch counters were desegregated the next month.

Between the lines: Metro Council voted last year to name the plaza outside of the courthouse in Nash's honor.

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