Before launching her own tour company, Chakita Patterson regularly took walking tours in Nashville and other cities, and noticed a trend: “They only had one ‘black fact.’ “
For a while, she complained to her partner. Then she took action.
“We were just like, listen: if we want black history highlighted or mentioned, we have to be the ones to do it,” she said.
United Street Tours opens to the public this weekend, joining what has been a growing piece of the city’s tourism boom. But while others touch on history, music or food, Patterson’s has a different focus.
“Black history in Nashville is so rich and so vibrant,” she said, “so it was frustrating that no one was talking about it.”
The primary tour hits 15 downtown locations related to black history — from the city’s founding, to slavery, to the Civil Rights Movement, and up to the existing locations and public art that help tell the stories. Separate tours of Jefferson Street and one specifically about Civil Rights are forthcoming.
While Patterson’s is a black-run business telling black history, she said she hopes people of all backgrounds would take interest.
“Our tours create a space for the black story to be told, so it’s not exclusively a black space,” she said. “We seek to expand the minds of all people.”
Patterson, a full-time educator at a local charter school, acknowledges the competition among walking tours has become intense. But her Saturday group tours are booked into July.
“People are just eager to learn the lay of the land, and not only to learn the lay of the land, but to do something different,” she said.