by Christian Anderson
Students from the University Course Historic Black Nashville visited Fort Negley on Oct. 26 to gain a deeper understanding of the social, political and military forces central to Nashville and Middle Tennessee during the Civil War. From August through December 1862, more than 2,700 conscript laborers, predominately contrabands (runaway slaves) and free blacks, constructed Fort Negley, atop St. Cloud Hill, as part of a massive fortification system. Co-taught by history professor Jane Landers and law professor Daniel Sharfstein, Historic Black Nashville explores the under-developed history of black Nashville from settlement to the early twentieth century. Through instructor and guest lectures, digital humanities instruction, site visits, and independent research in local archives, students in this multicultural university course recover and document the lives of the city’s enslaved and free people of color as well as the community institutions and social and artistic movements that defined the black experience in Nashville.