Unveiling the Murals, a Benefit Banquet, and a Performance by the Fisk Jubilee Singers

Above: Artist Bernice Davidson tells the story behind
the mural, Heroes of the Underground Railroad, sponsored by Richland Inn of Pulaski, TN.

On February 7, 2015, artist Bernice Davidson unveiled the two newest murals in the Giles County Heroes Project.

The first, sponsored by Ms. Davidson and The TN Arts Commision, depicts a baptism in the Elk River conducted by Matt Gardner, a freed slave who went on to become a prosperous farmer, minister and founder of the first schools for black children in Giles County.

gardner family
Matt Gardner's great grandson (left) shakes hands with a community leader from Giles County, TN.

Hosted by Martin Methodist College, the evening included an exquisite banquet, with all proceeds going to help fund repairs and improvements to the Matt Gardner Homestead, with the goal of making the location an education resource center.

Members of Matt Gardner's descendents were in attendance. Two African American women, Carie Jones and Lena Brown Prince, were honored for integrating their schools in the early 1960's, paving the way for hundreds of students of color to follow.

Fisk Jubilee Singers

The evening concluded with a concert by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, from Fisk University in Nashville, TN.

The two-hour performance consisted of gospel hymns and spirituals, sung much as they have for over 100 years, when the group was formed back in the late 1800's.