As part of the massive Capitol View project off of Charlotte Avenue, the developers agreed to create Frankie Pierce Park, a green space that includes a children’s playground that was built as a public-private partnership between Capitol View and Metro Parks. It lies in a triangle of land between two elevated railroad lines that separate Capitol View from Capitol Hill. Real estate folks like to call the area around Capitol View “North Gulch,” but it used to be known as Hell’s Half-Acre, long a Black neighborhood, which was torn down in the mid-twentieth century.
Because of its history, it’s appropriate that the park be named in honor of one of Nashville’s most important Black activists, J. Franke Pierce. Pierce was a civil rights activist who played an important part in the women’s suffrage movement in Nashville, and who opened the Tennessee Vocational School for Colored Girls in 1923, which remained open until 1979. Her work for women’s voting rights is honored in the Alan LeQuire statue of suffragette activists found in Centennial Park I wrote about in These women came to vote!.
This mural, as well as two others nearby that I’ll post about later, is the work of Anthony Billups of Music City Murals and Olasubomi Aka-Bashorun, and it went up back in August. On his Instagram page, Billups discuss the fact that every day they worked on the mural, they were questioned by police. Billups, who is white, found himself needing to defend Aka-Bashorun, who is Black. Billups says that he has never been questioned by police on any project before, but police repeatedly questioned what Aka-Bashorun was doing. He says:
It was also apparent that when I showed up, the situation de-escalated because I am white. What if I hadn’t been there??
All this while they were working on a mural honoring an important Black activist.
Located at 130 Lifeway Plaza. That’s the address of the park. The mural is found on the south end of the park, on the left side of the eastern railroad bridge, right off of Nelson Merry Street. The easiest parking is off of Nelson Merry, on the other side of the western railroad bridge, at Capitol View.