For Dr. Freddrick Leonard, joining the Nashville Student Movement in the fall of 1960 meant learning to suppress his instincts. As a high-schooler in Chattanooga, he sat in at lunch counters with other students, and they defended themselves when they were attacked. And his shift to non-violent protest was especially difficult. But even after years […]
Civil Rights veteran Dr. Allen Cason sits down with poet Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay to detail his firsthand account of the Montgomery riot that shifted the course of a movement, how his willingness to risk everything for the cause of integration cost Allen years of his life, and how sometimes the work of serving your community means concealing what you’ve sacrificed
After the carnage in Birmingham and the bus bombing in Anniston, Rip Patton and the Nashville students set out to continue the Freedom Rides. Rip talks to poet Destiny Birdsong about how the legacy of that activism points the way for current protest, and then Destiny transforms Rip’s spellbinding history in poetry.
In the early 1960’s Rip Patton was on the frontlines of the civil rights movement. A foot soldier in a coordinated campaign to combat racial inequality on every front. And ultimately, induce the political opposition to revise the central edicts that governed the country.
Etta Marie Simpson Ray is a Freedom Rider and one of the pioneers of the Nashville Student Movement. Etta speaks with poet Kelley Bell about the experience of living in the echo of a movement when your contributions have all but been erased, finding the courage to risk personal gain for the collective good, and the critical importance of carrying the old days with us.
In Season 4 of Versify, we bring you the stories of a remarkable band of historical luminaries, connected by their courageous commitment to racial equality in the 1960s: the Nashville Freedom Riders. We hear of their experiences, in their own words, and our poets turn their narratives into poetry.
Nashville Public Radio’s podcast Versify paired some of Nashville’s most iconic residents with local poets who turned their stories into verse. Host Joshua Moore says he learned just how under-told those Civil Rights stories were — for decades.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Rhiannon Giddens is a narrative archeologist. A historical thaumaturge who conjures the often willfully forgotten chronicles of American history and renders them with a rosined bow.
For Nashville choreographer Diane Kimbrough, her route to a career as a professional dancer was influenced by her family history. A descendant of Ukrainian Jews who fled during the Pogroms of the Russian Empire, for Diane, leaning on resilience in the face of scrutiny is practically an inherited trait.
For artist, influencer and activist Thaxton Waters, the roots of his artistic practice began with a suspicion of history. An unease about the stories around the community he was born into. And that sense of questioning spurred Thaxton toward a career of unearthing untold histories — through art.