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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Z. Alexander Looby and Nashville go hand in hand.
“I think you could make an argument he was one of the most important Tennesseans of the 20th century,” said Betsy Phillips. “There’s simply not a civil rights case in the state that he wasn’t either directly or indirectly involved with.”
So when it was time to pick a theme for this year’s Nashville Nine list, Phillips and her board members with Historic Nashville, Inc. had a plan.
“This year, it’s all civil rights related,” she said.
Since 2009 Historic Nashville, Inc. has published its annual list of the most historic and endangered properties in the city of Nashville.
To celebrate the upcoming 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this year’s list highlights homes and buildings of those tied to this historic movement.
“Nashville’s role in the Civil Rights Movement is so important,” said Phillips. “It’s so crucial. It had so many important people who came to Nashville to figure out how to do sit-ins, how to do non-violent resistance.”
This year’s list not only has a special theme, but technically 10 properties.
Two of the properties listed this year were former Nashville Nine properties, including Z. Alexander Looby’s home.
“That house is a monument to the struggles people went through…that he went through and how he survived them,” said Phillips.
“We were willed the building, a permanent office by James Wesley Frierson at his death in 1965,” said David Conner.
That building Conner speaks of is also on this year’s list. It’s been the home to the Nashville NAACP chapter branch for nearly 60 years.
“Having this list to come out every year, it brings a real reality to the issues of maintaining our community and upkeeping our history,” he said.
While this list is all about preserving important places in Nashville’s history, Phillips hopes the list will also inspire the city to find a way to share its rich past and continue to move toward a new future.
“I think buildings with those kind of histories are really important,” she said. “How do we know our history once the things that remind us of it our gone?”