Today's Show: Preserving Rutherford County's History: Uncovering Stories of Resilience and Heritage

Feb 26, 2024 at 09:15 am by WGNS News

1960's Photo of the County Courthouse. Picture by Shacklett's Photography.


MURFREESBORO, TN - Today on the Action Line podcast (listen above), WGNS' Scott Walker had the pleasure of speaking with Margaret McKinley and Wilma McClain, who are deeply involved in preserving and uncovering the history of Rutherford County. Both McKinley and McClain are with the African American Heritage Society, a non-profit organization that was founded in 2014.

One of the key topics discussed focused on the experiences of African Americans growing up in our community. From having to use separate entrances in stores to facing discrimination in checkout lines, these were daily challenges faced by some members of our population as recently as 60 years ago (in 1964).

It wasn't until 1964 that Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which made it illegal to engage in any form of segregation within businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and movie theaters. The act also prohibited discriminatory practices in employment and formally ended segregation in public places like swimming pools, libraries, and public schools.

The Civil Rights Act was initially proposed by John F. Kennedy and largely drafted during his administration, but it did not pass Congress until after his assassination. President Lyndon Johnson ultimately signed it into law on July 2, 1964, which was 31-weeks and 6-days after the death of Kennedy.

Also highlighted in today's show, the recent installation of a monument by the African American Heritage Society on the Courthouse grounds. This monument serves to remember and honor individuals who were sold as slaves on the courthouse steps in the early 1800s, shedding light on a dark chapter of our history.

African American Heritage Society is actively engaged in research with MTSU and the utilization of a ground-penetrating radar in Section M at Evergreen Cemetery. This area holds the remains of slaves from the nearby Oaklands Mansion, and their work is helping families trace their heritage and understand their ancestors' stories.

In addition to efforts at Evergreen Cemetery, the historical group has dedicated a monument at the cemetery last June. They are also conducting research to place markers at significant locations such as the Minkslide area (near Maple and Vine Streets) and The Historic Bottoms (area south of Broad Street, which includes Cannonsburgh Village). These markers will highlight places of historical importance, including areas prone to flooding and locations tied to the region's industrial past.

Through these initiatives, the African American Heritage Society is preserving and sharing the rich history of Rutherford County, ensuring that future generations understand and appreciate the diverse stories that make up our community's past.

Crime During Years of Racial Tension - We also learned on today's show that there may be unresolved crimes dating back to the 1960s and earlier in the Murfreesboro area. These cases may not have received proper investigation, potentially due to racial bias affecting the prioritization of cases.

This month is recognized as Black History Month, also known as African American History Month. It's a time to honor, celebrate, and reflect on the remarkable achievements, people, and events that have shaped our history.

More Details: Learn more and get involved by visiting the African American Heritage Society of Rutherford County online at