Protesters Meet With Mayor Ben West, April 19, 1960

By Betsy Thorpe

Silent March, April 19, 1960, Nashville Tennessee

On the morning of April 19th word of the bombing of Councilman Looby’s home quickly spread throughout the city. In response to the news, more than three thousand students and community members met at noon to protest violence and segration, by silently marching to the Mayors office in downtown Nashville. The protesters, lead by student activist Diane Nash and the Reverend C. T. Vivian were met on the steps of City Hall by Mayor Ben West.

Reverend C.T. Vivian, Diane Nash, Bernard LaFayette and Curtis Murphy confront Mayor Ben West

After Reverend Vivian read a statement accusing the mayor of “turning a blind eye to violence and injustice” and of ignoring segregation’s moral issues, Diane Nash asked the mayor if he felt it was wrong to discriminate against a person based solely on their race or skin color. The mayor admitted that he thought it was wrong. Nash then asked if he believed lunch counters in the city should be desegregated. The Mayor answered, “Yes”, adding “That’s up to the store managers, of course.


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