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“Exit 207: The Soul of Nashville” gives voice to prominent Black leaders to tell the story of Jefferson Street. Located in North Nashville, Jefferson Street was once a hub for many prominent members of the Black community to gather and celebrate the music and businesses that brought life to their culture. In 1957, the construction of Interstate 40 cut through Jefferson Street, isolating the community and contributing to a loss of the area’s culture and vibrance. Today, Nashville is known as “It” city and is growing at an exponential rate. But as the city begins to find prosperity, some members of North Nashville’s community are getting left behind and can no longer afford to live in the place they have called home for decades. The documentary aims to show how the once thriving community of Jefferson Street has been deeply affected by the construction of I 40 and Nashville's growth. However, despite these struggles, there are pockets of hope and revitalization in the community.




The difficulty of embarking on the ultimate group project was immediately evident when the team sat down in September to choose a topic for this documentary. Our parameters were to choose a social justice topic pertaining to the city of Nashville. To educate ourselves and explore different options, we read “I’ll Take You There: Exploring Nashville’s Social Justice Sites” by Amie Thurber and Leathora Williams, the latter of whom is featured in the documentary. After multiple brainstorming sessions with a group of Media Studies, Motion Pictures, Audio Engineering, and Honors students, we came to the consensus of choosing a story that spoke to the way Nashville’s gentrification is pushing out its natives.

We chose to focus on North Nashville, because it is one of the only areas in the city that has maintained remnants of its rich history. We set out to tell the story of why the community looks so drastically different than it did prior to World War II, in the hopes that we are able to let the people of the community tell their story. Jefferson Street in North Nashville is a proud and resilient neighborhood that served as a place of sanctuary and promise during tense race relations and played a primary role in the Civil Rights Movement. However, when Interstate 40 was built, it cut right through this neighborhood, fracturing the community and contributing to a loss of the area’s culture and vibrancy.

“Exit 207: The Soul of Nashville” gives voice to prominent Black leaders in the North Nashville community to tell the story of what Jefferson Street used to be and what it could be in the future. Though the story is marked by targeted gentrification and destruction, it also is one of hope, as we have discovered ways the community still thrives through the people we have met and interviewed in the process of creating this documentary. Our hope is that “Exit 207: The Soul of Nashville” lets those directly affected by Nashville’s expansion tell their own story, and by doing so spread awareness for how all Nashville citizens, native or not, can rally around the community in supporting their rich culture and history.


Explore TOURS ON nashville SITES

Food is often our first contact with different cultures, and often serves as a medium where cultures and classes intersect. Each stop on the Food and Social Justice Driving Tour represents a space where Nashvillians of various backgrounds meet to socialize, bring attention to needed change, and provide a space where visitors and residents alike can learn more about the people who call this city home. And — you can check out some of the spots in the doc, too!

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