NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Hundreds of people hit Buchanan Street in North Nashville Saturday to celebrate Juneteenth.
“Black on Buchanan is our way of kind of letting folks know that black people…this is our neighborhood,” said Jess Williams.
Williams is the communications director for the Equity Alliance, the group hosting this event.
She says this block party is not just about celebrating Juneteenth, but also highlighting and uplifting black businesses in Nashville.
“It’s about bringing together non-profit partners and community partners, but also being able to economically give back to the community by giving these black businesses an area of the space to be able to sell their products to make sure that their businesses are thriving,” said Williams.
But there’s people like Ashford Hughes who weren’t looking to sell anything, but instead give things away for free.
“We’re making certain our young black boys, (and) our young brown boys cultivate a love and an appreciation for books,” he said.
Hughes is the co-chair of My Brother’s Keeper Nashville, and says they used this block party as a way to kick off their first ever reading campaign targeting young boys of color.
“We can’t just talk about it,” he said. “We have to be in the community delivering what we say we care about, and when we say we value the lives and the literacy of our young men, we have to be out here present so that they see us present, and they see us active with books.”
Hughes used this event to hand out 500 books, but the bigger goal is to collect and distribute 10,000 books by the end of this year.
By the end of 2023 they are hoping to collect and distribute 20,000 books to young black boys and their families in Nashville.
With so many changes happening to North Nashville, Williams hopes this event serves as a reminder that they are here to stay.
“This is our neighborhood and we’re here,” she said. “We’re going to stay here. No matter what you do to try and get us out of this neighborhood, whether its driving rent up, redistricting or whatever happens, we’re going to be here.”
Williams says they estimate over 1,400 people showed up for this year’s block party.
If you are interested in learning more about My Brother’s Keeper’s literacy campaign or donating books, you can visit their website here.