After holding several meetings for blacks only at a public library in Nashville, Black Lives Matter advocates were told that banning people from a public space because of their skin color is against library policy. Library officials told Black Lives Matter of Nashville that after receiving a number of complaints, they were informed that the library is following its policy specifying that all meetings there must be open to the public and media. A spokesperson said that the library had not cancelled anyone’s meeting, and that it is open to the public because it is funded by taxpayers.
For several months, the Nashville chapter of BLM has had chapter meetings at the library. However, because of the enforcement of library policy, the group met on February 20 at a local church, Dixon Memorial United Methodist church in Nashville.
In a statement, the BLM’s Nashville chapter declared:
"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.”
BLM’s statement said that it was ironic that the cancelled dates fell during Black History Month.
“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.” The BLM statement said that if the library “cannot or will not support our values we will continue to meet elsewhere.”
Comments left on the Facebook page of Dixon Memorial United Methodist church were negative. John Patrick Mullan, for example, commented: “I guess this church is OK with the racist agenda of Black Lives Matter. I wonder will they hold a Klan rally to. I am left asking, What would Jesus do. I am reminded that whips and flipping tables is not out of the question.” Black Lives Matter activists are calling for adherents to express support for the small church in Nashville that is hosting the chapter meetings.
BLM Nashville has cooperated in the past with other identity groups. For example, it called on BLM activists to attend a “Teach-in” on “Trans” issues that was held at Vanderbilt University on Feb. 13. Participants at that event were promised:
"There will be presentations introducing trans identities, both binary and nonbinary, challenges facing the trans community, intersectionality and black trans women, trans healthcare issues and allyship both individual and institutional, as well as a panel discussion with the presenters. There will be catering with vegan and kosher options."