Black Lives Matter Banned from Nashville Library for ‘Black Only’ Meetings Policy, Blames ‘White Supremacy’

Facebook/Black Lives Matter Nashville
Facebook/Black Lives Matter Nashville

Nashville Public Library officials informed Nashville’s chapter of Black Lives Matter members that the group’s “open to black and non-black people of color only” meetings policy is prohibited on public property.

“The library didn’t cancel anyone’s meeting,” library spokeswoman Emily Waltenbaugh said after Black Lives Matter members moved their Saturday meeting to a church located a mile away. “We’re taxpayer funded. We have to be open to anyone any time.”

In a fit of rage, Black Lives Matter Nashville leader Joshua Crutchfield announced the group’s meeting cancellations and reassured members that “white supremacy won’t stop this movement.”

Crutchfield continued to make it clear that his Black Lives Matter chapter just wants to hold meetings in what he calls black only or non-white “safe spaces.”

Black Lives Matter Nashville released the following statement on its website:

After several months of meeting at the North Branch library, on Wednesday (2/19), the Nashville Chapter of Black Lives Matter was contacted through email and by phone that library administrators received complaints regarding BLM’s policy of general meetings being open to black and non-black people of color only. Although meeting rooms are available to local organizations for use of a “cultural” nature, we were informed that “due to the library policy of open meetings for meeting room use,” all future meetings held at the library would be cancelled.” Ironically, all cancelled dates were in February during Black History Month. The Nashville Chapter of BLM has this policy in place to center the voices and experiences of people of color that have historically been excluded or segregated within supposedly public spaces. Black and/or people of color only spaces are often questioned and viewed with suspicion, though there is seldom any interrogation of white-only board rooms and staffs. However, we view these spaces as integral to healing and community building, particularly to those who have experienced racialized violence and ardently maintain this policy as imperative to the work and mission of BLM.
We understand and even honor the importance of the library as an invaluable site of accessible information, community events, and safe space, often especially for disenfranchised people without homes and people of color, but if it cannot or will not support our values we will continue to meet elsewhere.

The decision has outraged Black Lives Mattermembers. But Nashville Public Library officials said they’re following a library policy that specifies all meetings at their facilities must be open to the public and news media.

Waltenbaugh insisted that her staff did not intend to cause controversy. She said library policy must be enforced to ensure fairness for all community members, regardless of race.

“The Nashville Public Library system is committed to civil rights and has a department devoted to the topic,” Waltenbaugh said.

Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson.


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