Preserving Black Wall Street: Meet the Jefferson Street Historical Society

jefferson-street-historical-society-board

If the rows of brick-laid buildings on Historic Jefferson Street could speak, oh the stories the world could hear. 

Over 159 years have passed since Blacks first convened on Jefferson Street for shelter after the Civil War seeking knowledge and life. Like many other Black Wall Streets, the people thrived together in building a self-sustaining community of businesses and legacies for the world to see, including the oldest Black-founded bank in America – Citizens Bank to the illustrious Fisk University that Jubilee Singers ensuring Nashville, TN became The Music City.

In 2023, Monchiere’ Holmes-Jones (CEO of MOJO Marketing + PR) founded the Jefferson Street Historical Society (JSHS) alongside 10 other Historic Jefferson Street business leaders and Nashville natives to preserve the history, culture, and monuments that remained.

The intergenerational group of culture bearers (board members) has curated a master plan for Historic Jefferson Street where the businesses and legacy come first. JSHS will honor its musical roots and culture and its economic impact as a leading Black business district in the U.S. The historical society’s passion and protection for this world gem is nonstop, as Historic Jefferson Street is the only Black Wall Street in the U.S. with 50 + Black-Owned businesses. Their upcoming plans include an amazing rollout of beautification, history tours, and music and art festivals for natives, newbies, and tourists to enjoy.

Today, the street thrives with over 86 Black Owned businesses, two (2) Historic HBCUs, the oldest Black Owned bookstore in the state of Tennessee, the oldest Black bank in America, 70+ year-old Teachers Credit Union founded by teachers, two (2) historic Black churches, seven (7) music stages including the iconic Elk’s Lodge #1102 formerly Club Baron where music legends like Ray Charles, Etta James, Little Richard, and more have played.

“Preservation is a must, and amplification of our culture history yesterday, today, and tomorrow must be protected!”, says Monchiere’- President of the Jefferson Street Historical Society.

The society welcomes Nashville and the world to come and dwell with us on any given Sunday or day and enjoy our museums, galleries, restaurants, salons, music lounges, shops, and more!

Photography: Elle Danielle

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