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Black Lives Matter Demonstration Marches Through Nashville

Police escort more than 100 protesters as they make their way along Route 127 in Nashville on Monday evening.

Nashville Teen Organizes Protest Focused On Racial Inequality

By Leah Williams

Photos by Leah Williams and Charles Guffey

Janisha Bailey stood up on the bed of a red pickup truck, raised a pink “Unicorn Horn” to her lips and gave out a rally cry in hopes that no one else would have to experience injustice.

“The racists things I hear everyday has got to stop,” she yelled, and the crowd cheered.

Bailey, 17, of Nashville organized a Black Lives Matter protest demonstration on Monday, June 8. Starting at the Community Center of Nashville, the group of more than 150 people walked along Route 15 and then Route 127 as they shouted for equality, peace and the end of police brutality, among other racial injustices.

Bailey led the rally with a quote from a Tupac Shakur song and then led the group to Nashville Community High School, where they kneeled for nine minutes in memory of George Floyd, who died after an altercation with police in Minneapolis.

National protests have been organized to condemn the treatment of blacks in America. Bailey said she wanted to organize the event as a way to help others understand the plight that many men and women deal with everyday.

“I am just here to raise awareness for this cause,” Bailey said. “From the things that I have experienced when I was younger and the things my mother has experienced with racism, it is just something that I don’t want anyone else to have to experience.”

Protestors came from throughout the area to participate. Annette Williams said her march in Nashville was her sixth protest. She has also participated in events in Mt. Vernon and St. Louis. She said she was surprised to find so many other protestors at the demonstration.

“What I’ve always heard about Nashville is that we’re not allowed here,” Williams said.

Williams said she hopes that others seeing or taking part in the march will be willing to take a step back and reflect on how they treat others.

“I hope that it inspires them to try and get to know someone who isn’t like them,” she said. “Just try to open your heart a little bit, just love.”

Cathy Luczaj Combs of Oakdale said racial equality has been an issue that she has always believed in, and she wanted to participate in the Black Lives Matter event to show her support.

“It is something that I’ve always supported,” she said.

Combs said she has family members who are in law enforcement and who are black and the turbulent times makes her “afraid for both of their lives.”

Janisha’s sister Aaliyah Bailey, who is a candidate for the Missouri State Representative District 64 office, spoke at the end of the demonstration about the importance of events in small towns like Nashville and how they can help be “the change they want the world to be.”

“Racism starts everywhere,” Bailey said. “We can’t eradicate racism without eradicating it everywhere.”

Janisha Bailey said she was very happy with the turnout and she was thankful for everyone who helped make it possible.

“I am speechless,” she said. “I am just happy that everyone came out to help support me and this movement.”

There were a few counter protestors during the event, but no incidents were reported to police.

Organizer Janisha Bailey, 17, of Nashville participates in a chant at the Community Center


During a stop at Nashville Community High School, they kneeled for nine minutes in silence to remember George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis on May 25 during an altercation with police.


Many of the signs used during the protest spoke about the need for societal change in regards to racial equality


  1. Anonymous on June 16, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    I apologize for the length of this. I read these comments and realize that Nashville is the same old Sundown Town it was when I lived there from 1969 to 1986. There has been a few good changes though. They did take down the “Sundown” signs that welcomed everyone except Black folks to the city. And I believe the “Whites Only “ sign above the drinking fountain in the Court House is gone. Larry Karlovsky At the time, I thought Nashville was a great place to live and raise a family. I still think that Nashville would be a good place to live. If you can get past the Racism and Bigotry of folks like, Casey King, Mike Varnum, Charles Hake, and many others. Maybe if I got to know these folks better, I could help them. When I came to Nashville, upon my return from Vietnam in 1969, one of the first places I visited was “Homer’s” Tavern. I met a lot of interesting people there. Danny Goodner, Bob Hargan, Charlie Defend and a host of others. They all were nice to me. It seemed as if they all had one thing in common though. They were all racists to the Core and freely admitted it. I see the same here except these people would die before admitting it. In the 17 years we lived in Nashville, I don’t believe I ever met a black person who lived there. I, along with Dick Shew coached baseball from the time our son was old enough to play until we moved when he was in the 8th grade. I never saw a Black kid on the field. What I see in these comments is that Casey King and Mike Varnum like to hear themselves talk. I believe a little diversity training might help them with their anger towards those of different colors and religions. Just sayin. I also hear a voice of reason in that of Cathy Luczaj Combs and a few others. As I watched trump give his speech to the West Point graduates, I felt it was the Saddest of Sad days, when a Draft Dodger and Coward, a Racist and a Bigot, a Disparager of Veterans, stands in front of America’s finest to Stroke his own ego! A small man who has betrayed his commitment to God, Duty, Honor and Country. A man with little, if any, integrity and no moral values. A little man who values photo ops more than he does the lives of others. A man who stokes Racism and promotes “White” Superiority amongst our countrymen. A man who stresses unity, but promotes Divisiveness amongst us. A man who encourages violence and spews a hateful message to those who agree with and support him. An ignorant lot of Fools and likeminded Racists and Bigots. If you support such a person, you are no different. You are what you support. Plain and Simple. I support and stand with each and every one of those that marched in a display of unity and those who support them. I encourage you to keep your voice and continue to speak out against Racism and Bigotry. Speak out Against those who are hateful towards those of different colors and religions. Stand up for our LGBTQ+ friends. We are all beautiful. Black Lives Matter! Larry Karlovsky

    Cliff Hale

  2. Anonymous on June 16, 2020 at 7:40 am

    Was there any follow up regarding the Nashville Police Officer that told Patricia Bailey that if she didn’t like racism she should move out of Nashville?

  3. Anonymous on June 13, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    Where were the sundowner signs? I mean physically – where were they located?

    • Anonymous on June 17, 2020 at 6:39 am

      Ask Cliff Hale, he is the only one who will answer that question. Nashville residents think that if they ignore the issue it will be forgotten or never existed.

    • Anonymous on June 17, 2020 at 9:13 am

      No doubt they would have been on the outskirts of the town as a warning to black people.

  4. Anonymous on June 12, 2020 at 9:10 am

    I grew up in Nashville and when I was 10 in the mid 1950 my mother educated me on the rules for black people. They had to be put of town by dark. She also heard me say the n word and told me not to ever say that again and the correct word was Negro, as that was correct at that time in history. My mother was not happy about the way they were treated. She was a giving and kind hearted person. So yes there was a “Sundowner law”.

    • Anonymous on June 12, 2020 at 4:36 pm

      Thank you. I knew there was but someone called me a liar.

  5. Anonymous on June 12, 2020 at 8:22 am

    Nashville is a great town to raise children, especially if they’re white and middle class. If you are black and are walking in Nashville the police will still stop you. The power issues are not just targeted at blacks; any economic or non-conformist will be treated differentially. There are power issues, especially in the police. All are not welcome here.

  6. Anonymous on June 12, 2020 at 8:21 am

    This is a direct quote by Patricia Bailey: “As mother of these biracial children i was actually told by one of those wonderful officers to move if i didnt like racism. And even though ONE officer told me that, i dont hold it against the WHOLE department. So yes, unity needs to shown, and tonight i think it was. ”

    Amazing mother who raised an incredible daughter. Thank you Patricia Bailey, Nashville is a better place because of your family.

  7. Anonymous on June 12, 2020 at 7:24 am

    My mother in law told me the Sundowner signs had to be removed during the Civil Rights movement in the 60s. However, “the n… knew to leave before sunset”. Her words not mine.
    It was not a “preacher”, it was a priest from Murphysboro and it was verified by the priest in Nashville.
    I have always had black, Jewish, Protestant and gay friends. We’ve had them to dinner. The reason my husband left Nashville was because he was ashamed of the racist, xenophobic, homophobic, anti semitism, anti Catholicism culture of Nashville.
    You can’t change the history of your town but you can make positive changes for it’s future. Those who ignore the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Nashville is blessed to have Janisha Bailey as a resident. Meet her, befriend her, enlighten yourself.

  8. Anonymous on June 9, 2020 at 11:47 pm

    We really accomplished a lot that day; after sitting around for 9 minutes in dead silence some black chick told us to stand up and then she started yelling at us about how she’s treated differently. I’m not quite sure who or what we were protesting to but I had nothing else to do that day, I actually went for a walk and then just happened upon the crowd. Everyone completely forgot about COVID-19 because of a dead black man. I feel like we could end all racism by looting, injuring or even killing cops, or maybe even posting completely irrelevant black squares on social media.

    • Anonymous on June 10, 2020 at 11:06 am

      It’s so easy to be racist when you don’t have to put your name on it. Nice job.

  9. Anonymous on June 9, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    So proud of you Janisha Bailey! Hard to believe this could happen in Nashville. When I lived there in the early 70s, they were proud they were a Sundowners Town. Back then, Nashville was known as “Little Belfast” because Protestant and Catholic neighbors wouldn’t even acknowledge each other. Parents wouldn’t allow Catholic and Protestant students to attend the prom together. So glad Nashville finally made it into the 20th century and loosened up on the Aryan mindset. Hopefully they’ll catch up to the rest of the country one day.

    Black Lives Matter!

    • Anonymous on June 10, 2020 at 1:58 pm

      Total bs. Nashville, Illinois was never a “sundown” town. And the garbage you’ve made up about it ever being some kind of “Little Belfast” is a total lie. Bet you just move from town newspaper website to town newspaper website, spewing the same lies and division.

      You strike me as a racist who just likes to sit around spewing hate. Sad.

      Go get a life and stop smearing Nashville with your lies and hate.

      • Anonymous on June 11, 2020 at 3:50 pm

        Check your town’s history. Nashville was indeed a Sundowner Town. My in-laws were quite proud of that.

        Regarding the “Little Belfast” title. I was personally told my the pastor in Murphysboro, when I my mother in law tried to force me to become Protestant and cut all ties with my Catholic family and friends.

        • Anonymous on June 11, 2020 at 7:40 pm

          Stop spreading lies. Nashville was NEVER a sundown town. And no one cares about your hearsay story about some preacher in Murphysboro. Has nothing to do with Nashville.

          • Anonymous on June 12, 2020 at 6:47 am

            My in laws told me the Sundowner signs had to be removed during the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s but the “negros” (can’t say what they called them) knew not to stay after sunset.

            Not a preacher, a priest, and it was verified by the priest in Nashville.

            Big talk from someone from someone who never had a black, jew, Catholic or gay friend. I had every religion present at my reception, black friends, one openly gay friend and at least one still in the closet, much to the dismay of my Nashville in laws who were bigots, misogynist, xenophobic and homophobic. I was raised to judge people by their character not race, religion or sexual orientation. If you’re ashamed of your town’s history, do something to make it better.

          • Anonymous on January 5, 2021 at 1:18 pm

            Nashville, IL was definitely a sundown town, as was almost the entire Washington County, you fool. They still sound the daily alarm at 5pm nightly in Nashville? Yeah, that alarm wasn’t sounded for the end of the work day!

            I still remember visiting grandma in Nashville, IL and hearing those daily alarms. My father was born and raised in Nashville. I still remember the look he shot me when I asked how many black kids were in his graduating class. “Ain’t no ****** families welcome in Nashville, boy!” Then I got a lesson on sundown laws. lynchings, and “running colored boys outta town”.

  10. Anonymous on June 9, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    Is there going to be another one? I would’ve loved to have been there, was unaware of it happening though. Would love to join if there was another one

  11. Anonymous on June 9, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    Great to see young people take the initiative!
    —Carl Eubanks

  12. Anonymous on June 9, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    #BlackLivesMatter as do the facts presented by good journalism like this.

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