Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

LaToya E. Eaves

Committee Members

Solange Munoz, Stefanie Benjamin, Nikki Luke


Centennial Park is a staple of downtown Nashville, Tennessee because of its founding after the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition in 1897, and also for the urban green space it provides for contemporary residents and visitors. A family-friendly space is presented to the visitors, yet there is a history of slavery within the park boundaries and Black removal. The lack of acknowledgement of the former plantation, the later removal of an African American university nearly adjacent to Vanderbilt University, and the modern presence of a Confederate monument in this space brings about questions regarding the memory of this particular landscape and the unethical practice of how it is being presented to visitors. The methods of archival analysis and semi-structured interviews with museum employees, Vanderbilt representatives, and members of the Centennial Park Conservancy were used to extract information regarding the missing Black history of this landscape in comparison to the fragmented and whitewashed accounts that are largely represented. The findings include information on those that were enslaved on this land and insight on the recurring fires that led to the closing of the African American college, Roger Williams University. This research contributes to ongoing scholarship regarding discussions about the presence of Confederate monuments and how divisive they can be. The study also helps to reframe the history of downtown Nashville in an inclusive way and addresses the larger questions of what stories are being told and the impacts of these narratives.

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