Nashville’s First Museum Magnet School celebrates decade of learning

Anne Holt's Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Robert Churchwell Elementary is home to a pioneering journalist.

I had the honor of knowing the late Robert Churchwell, Sr. when he worked for the Nashville Banner newspaper in the late 1970s. He covered the Education beat.

On Wednesday, North Nashville school children celebrate his groundbreaking legacy of service.

“To be a pioneer you break new ground and all pioneers had to cut down the weeds to see where they were going.”

The life of Robert Churchwell, Sr. is the most prominent story in the school library. It’s told through the illustrations of Nashville artists James Trealkill and Michael McBride.

“They captured Dad totally.”

Robert Jr. is a community outreach coordinator and guardian of the Churchwell legacy.

“You have to continue to remind people of what the legacy is,” said Robert Jr.

As the first African American reporter hired by a white-owned southern newspaper in 1950, Robert Churchwell earned a reputation as the Jackie Robinson of journalism.

“Because what he was doing was breaking ground, so others could follow,” said Robert Jr, “And others did follow his lead.”

Preserving the Churchwell legacy is a family affair.

“It gives kind of a history of dad’s life. It talks about WWII, etc,” said Robert Jr.

The Churchwell children are creating their own legacies of service. Two are educators and three are physicians.

“They emphasized when we were younger as children the importance of giving back, the importance of serving.”

Robert Churchwell credited much of his success to his wife, Mary. She served as a Metro School teacher for more than 30 years. Sadly, Mary Churchwell passed away last weekend. We send our prayers and condolences to the family.

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