Books: Non-Fiction

I’ll Take You There: Exploring Nashville’s Social Justice Sites

Book — Non-fiction. Edited by Amie Thurber and Learotha Williams. 2021. 300 pages.
An exploration of Nashville’s social justice sites and people’s history, celebrating the power of counternarratives as a tool to resist injustice.

Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements

I’ll Take You There is written by and with the people who intimately know Nashville, foregrounding the struggles and achievements of people’s movements toward social justice. In this book, more than one hundred Nashvillians “take us there,” guiding us to places we might not otherwise encounter. Their collective entries bear witness to the ways that power has been used by social, political, and economic elites to tell or omit certain stories, while celebrating the power of counternarratives as a tool to resist injustice. Indeed, each entry is simultaneously a story about place, power, and the historic and ongoing struggle toward a more just city for all. The result is akin to the experience of asking for directions in an unfamiliar place and receiving a warm offer from a local to lead you on, accompanied by a tale or two. [Adapted from publisher’s description.]

The Nashville Scene notes that,

When selecting entries, there were three criteria [for I’ll Take You There]: “sites that challenge missing or misinformation; sites that reveal privilege or dominance; and sites that celebrate cultural resistance, resilience, and creativity.” The result is intricate and varied.

. . . Many entries critically examine the histories of well-known spots. In “Mansker Station,” Thurber muses that “for White colonists, Mansker Station represented a place of refuge and safety. For the Indigenous inhabitants of the area, it represented the deepening threat to their sovereignty and continued existence on the land they had called home for generations.”

The “Aaittafama’ Archaeological Park” entry notes that Old Hickory Boulevard paved over sacred Indigenous burial grounds. The “Downtown” section features the story of Black Bottom, a “center of African-American education, culture, and business in Nashville.” Despite its significant impact on downtown Nashville, “revitalization” projects flattened Black Bottom.

ISBN: 9780826501530 | Vanderbilt University Press

Share a story, question, or resource from your classroom.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *