Tag Archives: Dr. Bobby Lovett

TSU remembers trailblazing educator, historian, author Dr. Bobby L. Lovett

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. Bobby L. Lovett, award-winning author, historian, and Professor Emeritus of Afro-American history at Tennessee State University, is being remembered as a trailblazing educator, civil rights advocate, and a pillar in the Tennessee historical community.

“Dr. Bobby Lovett made a lasting impression on his students, colleagues, and anyone who crossed his path,” President Glover said. “Dr. Lovett embodied our motto of think, work, and serve and took his role very seriously in cultivating young minds for future leadership and representing TSU.”

For more than 30 years Dr. Lovett served as professor of history at TSU until his retirement in 2011. For 10 of those years, he also served as dean of the then College of Arts and Sciences. 

A prolific writer, Lovett’s historical expertise led him to author more than eight books on American and African American History. His most recent book, A Touch of Greatness: A History of Tennessee State University, published in 2012, is part of series that examines the role of historically black colleges and universities throughout the civil right struggle and American history. His 2005 book, The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee: A Narrative History, won the “Tennessee History Book Award” by the Tennessee Library Association and Tennessee Historical Commission.

Former colleague Dr. Learotha  Williams described Lovett as a mentor and friend.

“I would not be at TSU were it not for Dr. Lovett,” said Dr.  Williams, associate professor of history, who said Lovett invited him to “look” at the position when it was open.

“In addition to teaching and his love for students, I think when it comes to what he meant to the city, he’s the father of black Nashville history; that is the stuff that he talked about. He was the guy that highlighted and said that we need to pay attention to this one, in order to understand Nashville.”

Lovett was a founding member of the Nashville Conference on African American History and Culture. Started in 1981, the conference brings together historians, educator, students, and other individuals interested in how African Americans shaped the history of Nashville and Tennessee.

He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, where he received his public-school education and completed Booker T. Washington High School. Lovett earned his B.A. at Arkansas A.M. & N State College (today’s University of Arkansas campus at Pine Bluff) and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Before coming to TSU, Lovett taught history courses in the Memphis Public School System (1969-1970) and at Eureka College (1970-1973).

Dr. Lovett was laid to rest  on Friday, Dec. 29 in Woodlawn Memorial Park after funeral services at First Baptist Church Capitol Hill, in Nashville.

TSU history professor, students get historical marker erected to remember victims of Nashville’s slave market

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A historical marker that remembers the victims of Nashville’s slave market has been erected downtown due to the efforts of a Tennessee State University professor and his students.

Dr. Learotha Williams

The marker will be unveiled at 12 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, at the corner of 4th Avenue North and Charlotte Avenue.

Preceding the Civil War, the space, which stretches to the city’s Public Square, was the center of slave trade in Nashville. The slave traders that lined the thoroughfare provided prospective buyers reliable access to enslaved blacks whom they bought, sold, or traded for their own use or resale in other areas of the Deep South.

“Nashville was the second largest slave port in the state,” says Dr. Learotha Williams, an associate professor of history at TSU who spearheaded the erection of the marker. “So, if you’re looking at a black person from here that has roots in Tennessee, chances are their ancestors came in through that space.”

Dr. Bobby Lovett is a national historian and former TSU history professor. He says African-Americans arrived at Fort Nashborough (a forerunner to the settlement that would become the city of Nashville) in December 1779 with the first European American settlers. Enslaved and free blacks comprised about 26 percent of Nashville’s population by 1860. The sale of slaves ended once the Union occupied Nashville in 1862.

“A historical marker is appropriate for this sacred part of Nashville’s history, which reminds us that lessons of our past can help with understandings of the present, and guide us toward making better decisions in the future,” says Lovett.

Williams says the idea for the marker stemmed from a discussion in one of his classes about the history of Nashville’s slave market, and the trauma inflicted upon countless of men, women and children when they were torn from their loved ones.

Williams says one of his students asked, “Dr. Williams, why don’t we have a marker or something down there for these people?” He says he honestly didn’t know why. Then the student said: “Why don’t you write up a proposal; you can be the one to get it done.”

And so he did, with the help of some of his students. The Tennessee Historical Commission approved the marker in June.

TSU student Shayldeon Brownlee, a senior in one of Williams’ classes, says the marker will hopefully cause future generations to reflect on what happened there.

“Some people want to forget, especially in this day and age,” says Brownlee. “But it shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a part of history, it’s a part of us.”

To learn about Dr. Learotha Williams’s other endeavors, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/nnhp/index.aspx


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About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.