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Harry C. Howard Jr. Lecture

Amie Thurber

Professors  Amie Thurber (School of Social Work, Portland State University) and Learotha Williams Jr. (African American, Civil War and Reconstruction, and Public History, Tennessee State University) will discuss their book, I’ll Take You There: Exploring Nashville’s Social Justice Sites, at the 2023-2024 Harry C. Howard Jr. Lecture on March 1, 2024 at 4 PM in the Central Library Community Room.

Before there were guidebooks, there were just guides—people in the community you could count on to

Learotha Williams

show you around.

I’ll Take You There is written by and with the people who most intimately know Nashville, foregrounding the struggles and achievements of people’s movements toward social justice. The colloquial use of “I’ll take you there” has long been a response to the call of a stranger: for recommendations of safe passage through unfamiliar territory, a decent meal and place to lay one’s head, or perhaps a watering hole or juke joint.

In this book, more than one hundred Nashvillians “take us there,” guiding us to places we might not otherwise encounter. Their collective entries bear witness to the ways that power has been used by social, political, and economic elites to tell or omit certain stories, while celebrating the power of counternarratives as a tool to resist injustice. Indeed, each entry is simultaneously a story about place, power, and the historic and ongoing struggle toward a more just city for all. The result is akin to the experience of asking for directions in an unfamiliar place and receiving a warm offer from a local to lead you on, accompanied by a tale or two.

The Harry C. Howard Jr. Lecture Series was established in 1994 through the endowment of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas E. Nash Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. George D. Renfro, all of Asheville, North Carolina. The lecture honors Harry C. Howard Jr., who earned his bachelor’s degree Vanderbilt in 1951, and allows the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities to bring an outstanding scholar to Vanderbilt annually to deliver a lecture on a significant topic in the humanities.  

Previous Harry C. Howard Jr. Lectures