Photo Caption: Student protesters sit-in at Walgreens on Fifth Avenue in Nashville, February 20, 1960. Photo by Jimmy Ellis – Courtesy of The Tennessean.
(COLUMBIA, Tenn. – Sept. 10, 2012) - - - The actions of a handful of Nashville college students sparked a mass sit-in movement used across the South which shaped the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. These events are the subject of the Columbia State Community College Pryor Art Gallery exhibit which opened in late August and runs through October 12.
We Shall Not Be Moved: The 50th Anniversary of Tennessee’s Civil Rights Sit-Ins, on loan from the Tennessee State Museum, catalogs the unsung African-American coalition of students from Tennessee A&I (now Tennessee State), Fisk and the American Baptist Theological Seminary as they bravely sat at lunch counters in segregated downtown Nashville.
Artifacts from the era accompany the exhibit to help gallery guests step back into a time of AM only radio, dial phones and mimeo machines. An eight minute film produced especially for school children chronicles events using original news footage.
“The sit-ins were nonviolent protests,” says Rusty Summerville, Curator of the Pryor Art Gallery. “These students were frequently met with violence from white bystanders and it was usually the non-violent students who were arrested and taken to the Nashville jail.”
“The film explores the reasons that students were willing to risk harm and possible arrest,” Summerville continued. “It examines how their parents felt about their participation.”
Summerville has also created a companion exhibit of artwork from African-American artists whose works resonate with the traveling exhibit. James Threalkill, Michael J. McBride, Michael “Ol Skool” Mucker, John “Janhni” Moore, James Spearman and Elisheba Israel have each contributed artworks to the Gallery exhibit.
Group tours are encouraged. The Pryor Art Gallery, located in the Waymon L. Hickman building on the main campus of Columbia State is free and open to the public. The gallery is open Monday – Thursday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To schedule a group tour, send an email to PryorGallery@ColumbiaState.edu or call (931) 540-2883.
Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee’s first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the sixth largest higher education system in the nation. For more information, please visit www.columbiastate.edu.