New Public Sculpture Weaves Together Two Decades of Nashville Civil Rights History

Apr 21, 2017

Four tall concrete walls now stand in the park in front of Nashville’s city hall.

Photographs depicting the city’s Civil Rights history are printed and embossed on the new public art project. The artwork was unveiled Friday, during the week of the 57th anniversary of the bombing of the home of a Nashville civil rights attorney.

Walter Hood, the landscaper who conceived "Witness Walls," says the artwork isn’t meant to highlight specific people or moments, like the bombing of Z. Alexander Looby's house in 1960.

Instead, Hood says, the sculptures blend together decades of boycotts, sit-ins and marches that forced the city to desegregate schools and lunch counters.

“It’s the collective that changes things," he said before the project's dedication ceremony. "And hopefully, when you walk around here, you’re bombarded with just a lot of images of people who, at times, are autonomous.”

As part of the project, the Metro Arts Commission also produced a series of interviews between high school students and Civil Rights veterans to expand on the history shown in the sculptures.