Publications to Note
By Linda T. Wynn, Assistant Director for State Programs & Publications Editor
Clearview Press, in Franklin, Tennessee, published Paul Clements’ Tell Them We Were Rising: Individuals of Color Through Slavery and Jim Crow, in Nashville and Beyond. A collection of twenty-two biographies this tome highlights the stories of noted African Americans in Nashville and the surrounding region. Building upon the decades of work by academic historians primarily from Fisk and Tennessee State Universities and the Nashville Conference on African American History and Culture’s Profiles of African Americans in Tennessee, the author delves into and further expounds upon the recorded stories of those who, if not most, experienced enslavement (the author uses the terms slavery, Negro, colored [sic], and mulatto, upon which he expounds in the Afterword). Clements delves into the lives and contributions of individuals, who most historians that study, research, and write about the African American saga in Nashville and the state of Tennessee are familiar. The well-known African Americans highlighted include Peter and Samuel Lowery, Daniel Wadkins, Ella Sheppard and the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Dr. Robert Fulton Boyd, Henry Harding, the Reverend Nelson G. Merry, the McKissack Family, which Moses McKissack III and his brother Calvin established Nashville’s first African American architectural firm, Sampson Keeble, the first African American elected to the Tennessee General Assembly and no narrative about African American history would be complete without noting The Napiers, whose son Attorney James Carroll Napier, a warrior for African American political and social justice, served on the Nashville City Council from 1878 to 1886, businessperson and a founder of Citizens Savings Bank, and a Register of the United States Treasury; Preston Taylor, a minister, businessperson, and philanthropist and Richard Henry Boyd, minister and businessman who established and served as head of the National Baptist Publishing Board and a founder of the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. These are a sampling of Nashville’s African American citizens that Clements delves into their backgrounds and the contributions they made in spite of the obstacles of racial discrimination placed in their path. The book’s title is taken from an 1870 banner “Tell Them We Are Rising” when some 1,500 African Americans marched through Nashville streets celebrating the passage of 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution that gave African American men the right of the franchise. A native Nashvillian and a graduate of Peabody College, who now resides in Williamson County, Clements has written several books including but not limited to Between A Past Remembered and Chronicles of the Cumberland Settlements. In this work, Clements demonstrates how the dehumanization of enslavement, the broken promises of Reconstruction, and the debasement of Jim Crow did prevent African Americans from rising above the hurdles placed in their path. This tome should be of interest to those wanting to increase their knowledge about individual African Americans in Nashville and beyond who made invaluable contributions to the place they called home. Cloth, $45.00.
West Margin Press, 1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, California 94710, published Keel Hunt’s A Sense of Justice: Judge Gilbert S. Merritt and His Times. A native Nashvillian, Gilbert Stroud Merritt attended Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon. In 1957, he earned a bachelor of arts degree from Yale University and three years later a bachelor of law from Vanderbilt University Law School. Following graduation from Vanderbilt University’s Law School, Merritt remained at Vanderbilt’s Law School serving as an assistant dean and instructor to 1961. The following year he earned a Master of Law degree from Harvard Law School. A mainstay in the judiciary and Tennessee politics, he served in the judiciary for forth-four years and earned a reputation for fair rulings. Merritt’s legal career included serving as U. S. Attorney for Middle Tennessee under President Lyndon B. Johnson and President Jimmy Carter nominated him for the United States Court of Appeals for the Six Circuit. In the 1990s President Bill Clinton considered him United States Supreme Court. It should not go unnoticed that Clinton ultimately nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg. During Merritt’s time as U.S. Attorney in Middle Tennessee in the 1960s, he appointed Carlton Petway, the first African American and Martha Craig Daughtrey, the first woman, to serve as assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Middle Tennessee district. In 1990 Daughtrey became the first woman to serve on the Tennessee Supreme Court. Three years later Clinton appointed her to the 6th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Through family ties and political connections, Merritt associated with the Gores, the Ingrams, the Hookers, the Donelsons, the Forts and the Seigenthalers, some of the most noted luminaries in Nashville's history. Keel Hunt, an author and columnist has written other books including Coup: The Day the Democrats Ousted Their Governor, Put Republican Lamar Alexander in Office Early, and Stopped a Pardon Scandal (2013); Crossing the Aisle: How Bipartisanship Brought Tennessee to the Twenty-First Century and Could Save America (2018); and A Landmark Repurposed: From Post Office ... - Frist Art Museum (2021). Hunt’s A Sense of Justice: Judge Gilbert S. Merritt and His Times is a combination of biography, politics, and history that “weaves the power of friendship, loyalty and the influence of history upon individuals and generations, and how communities of interest formed and evolved over time. . . and how it is all connected.” Cloth, $34.99
University Press of Tennessee Press, Hodges Library 323, 1015 Volunteer Boulevard, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-1000. Title IX, Pat Summitt, and Tennessee’s Trailblazers: 50 Years, 50 Stories by Mary Ellen Pethel examines the history of Title IX and its impact on women athletes. Pethel applauds the lives and careers of women like University of Tennessee Women’s Basketball Coach Pat Head Summitt and player Candace Parker, who led UT to two consecutive national championships (2007, 2008), and named the Final Four's most outstanding player both seasons. Readers are introduced to or re-affiliated with Ann Baker Furrow, who in the 1990s, started UT’s women’s golf program and Teresa Phillips, who played basketball for Vanderbilt University, where she later served as an assistant coach. A rising coaching star, Fisk University’s Associate Athletic Director, Harriett Hamilton hired Phillips as the women’s basketball coach. Ultimately, she became the women’s basketball coach at Tennessee State University and in 2002, TSU’s athletic director, a position she held until 2020. In addition to highlighting these women along with the other women featured in the book expands the reader’s understanding of Title IX that President Richard M. Nixon signed into law on June 23, 1972. Title IX benefited women and girls and provided them the assurance of equal opportunity in education that also included school-sponsored sports. Dr. Mary Ellen Pethel is an assistant professor in global leadership studies and honors at Belmont University. Project director of NashvilleSites.org as part of the Metro Historical Commission Foundation, she is the author of Athens of the New South: College Life and the Making of Modern Nashville (2017); A Heartfelt Mission: The West End Home Foundation, 1891-2016 (2017); and All-Girls Education from Ward Seminary to Harpeth Hall, 1865–2015 (2015). Title IX, Pat Summitt, and Tennessee’s Trailblazers: 50 Years, 50 Stories is an enlightening narrative about fifty women, the world of sports, and the impact of Title IX and how it affected their lives and professions. Paper, $24.95