Tennessee State Seal
New TSLA exhibit addresses "Emancipation and Reconstruction"
Challenges and Achievements of the 19th Century African-American Legislators
(Published: June 23, 2014)

In November 1872, Tennessee voters elected their first African-American representative to the General Assembly. In all, 14 African Americans, most of them former slaves, were elected to the General Assembly between 1872 and 1896. These African-American legislators represent a significant part of Tennessee state history. They laid the groundwork for the later achievements of the Civil Rights Movement and the legacy of their tireless struggle for equality lives on today.

Officers and Members of the Lower House of the Forty-Second General

Assembly of Tennessee, 1881. TSLA Library Photograph Collection.

A new exhibit, with 16 panels full of images and informat