Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Well, I made it to Nashville after 7 hours of driving through some beautiful scenery on Interstate 40. Music City is a country music mecca, and the town clearly has a musical flavor. Given the city's important role in the Civil Rights Movement, however, its surprising that the "powers that be" haven't put more emphasis in promoting its CRM legacy. I sat down for dinner tonight at the TGI Friday's across the street from Vanderbilt University...not exactly a local hotspot, but its proximity to the hotel (1 block) made it an irresistible choice. It was a pretty normal dinner, but I noticed a significant amount of diversity in the restaurant, and immediately thought about what Nashville was like 50 years ago in 1959. Nashville was considered the most progressive city in the South back then and was often referred to as the "Athens of the South" because of its intellectual and artistic power. It also helped that the city leaders built an EXACT replica of the Greek Parthenon (which I'll visit tomorrow). At the same time, however, Nashville was deeply segregated. There was segregation in all bus stations, hotel, restaurants, and businesses. Tomorrow I'll visit the downtown area where college students at Nashville's Fisk University and Baptist Theological Seminary put their lives on the line to make my TGI Friday's experience even possible.