If you drive out to Gallatin and go down Blythe Street, you’ll come across an empty lot sandwiched between a housing development and a barbecue joint. It may not look like much, but this lot was the site of America’s oldest Black-founded fair.
“There’s kind of a legend about ginseng,” according to Ethan Swiggart, a plant scientist at Middle Tennessee State University. The legend goes something like this: Ginseng “shows itself to you.” And if you’re not ready? Then you won’t find it. I’m hoping that’s not the case today.
After emancipation, Tennessee did not make it easy for formerly enslaved people to realize their full freedoms. So, some took matters into their own hands.
On Monday, five women were honored in a ceremony at Elizabeth Park, located at the intersection of Arthur Avenue, Jane Street and 11th Avenue North, in the historically Black neighborhood of North Nashville.
The Bass Street neighborhood was first settled by some of the formerly enslaved people who had helped build Fort Negley and defend it against the Confederacy. Today, Bass Street is barely a street at all, a stretch of just a thousand feet or so.
The resulting live album is probably the most enduring musical artifact of this storied venue. It didn’t keep the city from demolishing it to make way for I-40.