The Battle of Nashville Monument: A Symposium
Thurs., Nov. 5 and Fri., Nov. 6, 1998


The Battle of Nashville, the War's End,
and the Rising Aspirations of African-Americans

Dr. Reavis L. Mitchell, professor of history at Fisk University in Nashville, spoke on "The Battle of Nashville, the War's End, and the Rising Aspirations of African-Americans." Dr. Mitchell noted that the population of blacks in Nashville swelled from 4,000 to 10,000 during the Union occupation of the city during the war. One thousand black troops were organized in the city, and fought courageously during the battle, most noteably on the Union left flank on the first day of fighting.

Slaves and impressed blacks formed the bulk of labor to build Union fortifications, most notably Fort Negley, and 75 miles of railroad track from Nashville to the depot at Johnsonville. After the war, however, blacks exerted themselves in community affairs, pushing for civil rights and establishing a thriving business community. Church membership and civic and social organizations were founded and flourished despite resistance and obstacles.

The push for educational opportunities for blacks was marked by the opening of Fisk University in 1866. Following the European fundraising tour of the Jubilee Singers, the university relocated to its present site in 1876.

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