Metro Schools honors Nashville 16 with 'Because of You' celebration

P1260919 In September 1957, sixteen courageous Metro Schools students made history by being the first black children to desegregate Nashville's schools. More than sixty years later, these students were honored for the important part they played in our city's history during a special celebration entitled Because of You on Monday, Feb. 26.

In an emotional ceremony honoring the sacrifices these students and their families made, there was one unifying message of gratitude. While it may be hard to imagine today, the first-graders that bravely walked into school on that day in September faced visceral hatred. And because of their bravery, today's students have access to excellent public education and the chance to create and chase their dreams.

"Where schools were once a place where black students and white students couldn't learn together – or learn from each other – our schools are now a place where all students, regardless of where they came from or how they got here, are educated in a safe environment where they can dream about their futures and have the opportunity to chase after those dreams," said Dr. Joseph.

The event included remarks from Mayor Megan Barry, Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph, Board of Education member Dr. Sharon Gentry, Board chair Anna Shepherd, Rep. Harold Love, Jr. and a moving performance by Hillsboro High School's choir. Mayor Barry signed an official proclamation naming Feb. 26 as "Nashville 16 Day" in the city of Nashville. The former Metro Schools students and their families were presented with plaques to commemorate the occasion and proclamation.

These students forever changed the history of our school system  - and the city of Nashville - for the better.

Below is a list of the sixteen students who enrolled as first-graders on the first day of desegregation in Nashville:

Buena Vista

  • Erroll Groves
  • Ethel Mai Carr
  • Patricia Guthrie


  • Barbara Jean Watson
  • Marvin Moore
  • Charles Edward Battles
  • Cecil Ray Jr.


  • Charles Elbert Ridley
  • Willis Edgar Lewis Jr.
  • Linda McKinley
  • Rita Buchanan


  • Jacqueline Griffith
  • Lajuanda Street
  • Sinclair Lee Jr.


  • Joy Smith


  • Patricia Watson

Click here to learn more about the Nashville 16.