African Americans have always had a civil rights movement in Tennessee, even during slavery, according an historian who will lecture at Tennessee Tech University on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 18.
While many books have focused on the national civil rights movement and prominent leaders such as King and Malcolm X, Bobby L. Lovett, a history professor at Tennessee State University, has written the first book to examine Tennessee’s civil rights movement. In “The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee: a Narrative History” (University of Tennessee Press, 2005), Lovett reveals African American and white leaders in the fight for equality in the state, and he relates the movement with African Americans’ pursuit of inclusion in society nationally.
The book gives short descriptions of local interest to bring the movement alive, as well as sketches of main players, federal judges, and more than three dozen court cases that have affected race and civil rights in Tennessee. Lovett explores early Jim Crow Tennessee, public school desegregation since Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, sit-in and public desegregation activities, politics and civil rights, and the desegregation of higher education.
Lovett, a native Tennessean, received his doctorate from the University of Arkansas. He earned a master’s degree in American history and teacher certification at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Lovett joined TSU in 1973 as an instructor and has served as department head, assistant dean, associate dean, and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for 17 years. He currently is a senior history professor. Lovett’s latest two books—“America’s Black Colleges and Universities: A Narrative History 1837-2010” and “A Touch of Excellence: History of Tennessee State University,1911”—are scheduled to be published by TSU’s university press, respectively, in 2010 and 2011.
TTU’s Commission on the Status of Blacks, with support of the Muslim Students Organization and the Upper Cumberland Islamic Society, is sponsoring the event.