We are striving to forge a union with purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man… being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it.”
– Amanda Gorman
The Tennessee African American Historical Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing the rich and varied history of Tennessee. Our organization’s activities belong to the following three categories as we work toward our mission of sharing Tennessee’s African American history:
♦ We are dedicated to raising funds in order to create African American historical monuments and markers in Tennessee.
♦ We are invested in ongoing research exploring African American history in Tennessee.
♦ We endeavor to continually share African American history with Tennessee communities through articles, presentations, community events, documentaries, and social media.
Our Current Projects
101st United States Colored Troops
Many formerly enslaved men joined the Union Army during the Civil War to fight for their continued freedom. They became part of the United States Colored Troops. The headquarters for the 101st regiment of the USCT was located in Clarksville, Tennessee. We have been able to determine the location of these headquarters as well as conduct a detailed analysis of the regiment’s records. The Tennessee African American Historical Group has raised the funds to place a historical marker at this location to honor the service of these brave soldiers. Projected installation is August 6, 2022.
The Negro Agricultural Fair
The Montgomery County Negro Agricultural Fair was a yearly event created and administered by the African American community in Clarksville from 1948-1962. The fair took place at the corner of Lee Street and Drane Street and occurred during the era of racial segregation. The fair was part of the rich cultural history of the African American community in Clarksville. Pope G. Garrett Sr. was a secretary of the Negro Fairground Board throughout all 14 years of its existence. Mr. Garret was a leader in the Clarksville African American community and became an alderman in 1955 and County Magistrate Commissioner from January 1969-1978.
The Tennessee African American Historical Group has raised funds and completed the research to create a historical marker in remembrance of this important part of Clarksville’s African American history. One side of the marker will share information about the fair and the other side will share information about Mr. Garrett. The projected installation/unveiling of this marker is August 6, 2022.
Following emancipation in Tennessee during the Civil War, freed people from the surrounding area sought refuge inside of Union military lines in Clarksville. In 1864, some of these freed people created a village near Dunbar Cave. It was referred to as “Affricanna Town” by a former slave owner. It was separate from the refugee camp in Clarksville that was managed by the United States military. The village was not subject to the poor conditions imposed upon the refugee camp and it allowed freed people the chance to exercise their new rights as American citizens.
The Tennessee African American Historical Group worked with historians at Dunbar Cave State Park to complete the necessary historical research to create an accurate marker. Our goal is to bring honor to the memory of the inhabitants of “Affricanna Town” and insure their inclusion in Clarksville’s historical narrative. (*The marker has been approved by the Tennessee State Historical Commission and created. Installation is pending.)
♦Completing Historical Research
♦Fundraising To Create New Markers
♦Presenting History to The Community
in 2022, Angela Peterson REleased Her Film about the work of The Tennessee African American Historical Group.
“Black Mosaic: Reclaiming Clarksville’s Stories.”
From Affricanna Town to 101st Colored Troops, new group aims to preserve Clarksville’s Black history
The history of Black life in Clarksville remains largely ignored. But a new nonprofit aims to document that lost history, as well as preserve it.
is working with local schools and research groups at Austin Peay State University, Dunbar Cave State Park, and the Mt. Olive Preservation Society. The goal of the group is to create more historical markers and monuments that uncover the rich contribution of Black people in Clarksville.
Some of this history includes the 101st Colored Troops, which stationed their headquarters in Clarksville; Affricanna Town, which was an area near Dunbar Cave where freed slaves found community and refuge; and the Negro Agricultural Fair, which was held close to where the Dunn Center at APSU is today.
For several years, historian Jackie Collins has spearheaded most of the effort to create local historical markers, including at Burt School, at Bailey Cobb Elementary School, for baseball player Steve Wylie, and at St. John Missionary Baptist Church.
“You got to know where you come from before you know where you’re going,” Collins said.
Collins is vice president of the new group. President Frederick Murphy told Clarksville Now that Montgomery County is just the start, and this will be a statewide effort.
“Clarksville is growing at such an expedient rate,” Murphy said. “In order for people to feel represented, you have to have this piece of inclusiveness that’s there.”
Murphy discovered through historical documents that his ancestors were sharecroppers, and that helped motivate his effort to start the group. “It’s rooted in educating and encouraging other individuals to also seek the same information from their families, so we can keep these narratives true and alive.”
Tracy Jepson, co-creator of the group, has been a historian for eight years in Tennessee, with a focus on social and cultural history.
“As a nation, and also Tennessee – the Southern region – I think we have some work to do. There’s a lot of resistance and denial about some of the darker parts of our history.
“We want to make sure that the African American history is represented, and this requires raising funds for markers and monuments. It requires the detailed research – going through the archives to make sure we get that history correct,” Jepson said.
Collins said that the cost of these historical markers has increased since last year, now costing about $1,500.
“I am so grateful to those that have donated for the markers,” Collins said. “Without them, we would have a challenge because we don’t have that kind of money.”
They have created a GoFundMe to raise the money, and they have reached over half of their goal as of March 23.
“It’s imperative that we are more inclusive,” Murphy said. “I think this will highlight the city’s commitment to its residents that we want to share a broader story of what our history looks like.”