By SOTG News Service
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry with Urban Housing Solutions (UHS) and Norf Art Collective recently dedicated a historic mural in North Nashville featuring Civil Rights leaders to the late Rev. Bill Barnes, a longtime advocate for affordable housing and civil rights in Nashville.
The mural, which is displayed on the side of a UHS affordable housing complex at 26th and Clarksville in North Nashville, was funded by Google Fiber.
“The men and women depicted in this mural represent the real power that Nashvillians had and still have in the fight against social injustice. Our hope is to honor their courage, sacrifice, and legacy,” said Walter Lewis, Counsel, Norf Art Collective.
The 1,000 square-foot mural pays homage to history while bridging the past and the present with depictions of Nashville and Civil Rights leaders Diane Nash, Curlie McGruder, Z. Alexander Looby, John Lewis, and two children.
Each individual is seen taking strong strides, which represents perseverance and continuous improvement from generation to generation. A caption on the mural reads, “Freedom is not a destination, it’s a journey.”
“Affordable housing — a key in today’s fight for social justice — is a fundamental need, and the gap between the need and the availability of affordable housing solutions is widening,” said Brent Elrod, Urban Housing Solutions Director of Planning & Development. “Nashville has been fortunate to have leaders like the late Rev. Bill Barnes who dedicated his life to advocating for and addressing this issue head-on. We’re incredibly honored to dedicate this mural to Rev. Barnes.”
In 2013, Metro Nashville created the Barnes Housing Trust Fund as the first housing trust fund to leverage affordable housing developments countywide. The fund was named to honor Barnes, a founding pastor of Edgehill United Methodist Church and a lifelong advocate for affordable housing, civil rights, and the fight against poverty in Nashville.
The UHS complex at 26th and Clarksville was developed with a grant from the Barnes Fund.
About the honorees depicted in the mural:
Curlie McGruder was a Civil Rights activist and a tremendous supporter of Diane Nash and John Lewis as they led the desegregation of Nashville lunch counters with sit-ins and organized the Freedom Rides in the South. Zephaniah Alexander Looby served as a lawyer and was instrumental in protecting many activists of the time.