April, 1967, was an exciting time for Fisk, Meharry Medical, and Tennessee State University students. Stokely Carmichael and Martin Luther King, Jr. were in Nashville to spread the message of Black liberation - and in such a racially tense time, the people needed their empowerment.
But, mere hours after MLK and Carmichael delivered rousing speeches at Vanderbilt on the 8th, one restaurant did the unthinkable.
Even with powerful messages of Black unity electrifying the air, the University Inn’s Black manager - of all people! - called the police on a Black soldier.
Outraged students from all three schools filled Jefferson Street and formed a peaceful picket line outside the restaurant in protest. When they did, more police came running - but the students wouldn’t be deterred.
Fed up with state violence against residents in North Nashville’s neglected Black community, protestors began throwing rocks at racist police, who retaliated by charging the stone wall students took refuge behind. This sparked an all-out uprising.
Equipped with Molotov cocktails, weapons, and the spirit of resistance, students came together to finally declare, “NO MORE!” Though police arrested 40+ people and injured several, no one was fatally wounded by the riot’s end on April 10th.
What these three HBCUs did, however, was send a powerful message to authorities: when we stand together against white supremacist oppression, we won’t stand down.