Sitting at the lunch counter at Woolworth on 5th.

Last night I attended the annual meeting of Historic Nashville, an organization of which I am a member. It took place at Woolworth on 5th, a restored five and dime, now dining and event space. I was honored to hear from guest speakers Bob Tuke, Tom Morales, and Barry Scott. Bob Tuke, an attorney, told us about the time he sued the Federal Government and saved Union Station, Nashville’s former railway station and currently a beautiful hotel. Tom Morales, a restauranteur, spoke about saving historic landmarks and food memories from his childhood, like the Acme Feed and Seed, the Loveless Cafe, and Woolworth on 5th (the site of the Nashville sit-ins from Civil Rights history). As Tom so aptly put it, saving the Loveless was about saving food memories, but saving Woolworth’s saved our national memories. Barry Scott, a well-respected Nashville actor, spoke about the privilege of bringing art and theatre to the space at Woolworth on 5th, a place his father worked in as a janitor, but in which he wasn’t allowed to have a cup of coffee at the counter because of the color of his skin. It was a moving evening, a reminder that places matter, and history should teach the future to learn from the past.

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