2023 Conference

View the full 2023 conference video here.

Presenters and Musicians

learn about this year’s guests.

Dr. Carole Bucy

Carole Bucy is the current Davidson County Historian and a professor of history at Volunteer State Community College. She holds degrees in history from Baylor University, George Peabody College, and Vanderbilt University. She is the author of numerous articles about Tennessee women. In 2015, she received a grant from the Southern Historical Society to do research on Tennessee’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union at the Frances Willard Library in Evanston, Illinois. Her most recent work is “Educate! Agitate! Organize!: The Power of Female Leadership in the Prohibition Movement in Tennessee,” which will be published in 2022 in a volume of essays on Progressive Women in Tennessee. During the past year, Dr. Bucy has given 16 lectures for the Tennessee Historical Society and has served as a consultant on several woman suffrage projects, including the Votes for Women! Room at the Nashville Public Library, the East Tennessee Historical Society, and the Tennessee State Museum.

Cassandra Easley

Cassandra Easley is the founder and publisher of The Nashville Historical, a Black history newspaper and website focusing on the history of African Americans in Middle Tennessee. She has been in the media industry for several decades, from print to broadcast television. She is also the first Black general manager of a television station in Tennessee. Cassandra has worked for Gannett newspapers, NBC affiliate WSMV, UPI, and other broadcast stations. She is a second-generation journalist and credits her success to her father, Billy Easley, who was the first Black photojournalist to work for a major newspaper. Through his noteworthy work for The Tennessean, Billy was instrumental in making sure that Black history was portrayed in the news.

Leigh Ann Gardner

Leigh Ann Gardner received her MA in History with an emphasis in Public History from Middle Tennessee State University. She developed an interest in documenting African American history during her time at the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU, both as a graduate student and later as a staff member. Leigh Ann spent over a decade documenting African American benevolent and fraternal groups and their cemeteries in Tennessee. Her book on the subject, To Care for the Sick and Bury the Dead: African American Lodges and Cemeteries in Tennessee, was released by Vanderbilt University Press in February 2022.

Dr. Susan Knowles

Susan W. Knowles holds an MA in History of Art, Vanderbilt University; Master of Library Science, George Peabody College; and PhD in Public History, Middle Tennessee State University. Her dissertation on Tennessee marble in civic architecture focused on the individuals who built the industry and the political, societal, and infrastructural forces that shaped it. As Digital Research Fellow at MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation, Knowles collaborated on digital history projects including Shades of Gray and Blue: Reflections of Life in Civil War Tennessee (MTSU Walker Library and VU Libraries); Trials, Triumphs, and Transformations: Tennessean’s Search for Citizenship, Community, and Opportunity (MTSU Walker Library) and Landscape of Liberation: The African American Geography of Civil War Tennessee (TN State Library & Archives, MTSU Geosciences Fullerton Laboratory for Geospatial Research).

Zada Law

Archaeologist Zara Law is the director of MTSU Geosciences’ Fullerton Laboratory for Spatial Technology. She uses geographic information system (GIS) technology to link historic data to places on the ground. Zada is particularly interested in elevating the visibility of Tennessee’s African American archaeological landscape. She worked with a team of researchers and archivists from MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation and the Tennessee State Library and Archives to create a GIS data layer of Civil War sites associated with African Americans called “Landscape of Liberation.” Her presentation co-authors and research collaborators are Dr. Susan Knowles, a Digital Humanities Research Fellow at MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation, and Ken Middleton, Associate Professor and Digital Initiatives Librarian at MTSU’s Walker Library.

Dr. Charles McKinney, Jr.

Charles W. McKinney, Jr. is The Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies and an Associate Professor of history at Rhodes College in Memphis. His areas of expertise are the Civil Rights/Black Power Era, African American Activism, and African American Politics. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Morehouse College and completed his doctoral studies at Duke University. Dr. McKinney’s first book was titled Greater Freedom: The Evolution of the Civil Rights Struggle in Wilson, North Carolina. His second project, co-edited with Aram Goudsouzian, is An Unseen Light: Black Struggles for Freedom in Memphis, Tennessee. He is currently working on two projects, the first tentatively titled George Lee’s World: Race, Power and the (After)life of Segregation; the second book, co-edited with Francoise Hamlin, titled Rights and Lives: An Exploration of the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter Movements,is under contract at Vanderbilt University Press. His writing has appeared in newspapers and information venues across the country, including the Memphis Commercial Appeal, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Black Perspectives, Vanity Fair, and MLK50: Justice Through Journalism. Dr. McKinney has provided commentary on radio programs across the country, news outlets in the United Kingdom, Europe, China, New Zealand, Australia, and has appeared on CNN.

TSU Meistersingers

The Tennessee State University Meistersingers, who represent one of Nashville’s four HBCUs under the direction of Dr. Angelica Dunsavage, is composed of 18-22 of the university’s top vocalists from various majors across campus. For entrance into this ensemble, students must successfully audition and be an active part of the school’s choral program. Many of the students possess leadership roles, such as choir officers, section leaders, or hold roles in campus fraternities and sororities. In the past year, members of the Meistersingers have participated in a documentary on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a study abroad program to Colombia, and collaborations with Early Music City and Inversion ensembles. This semester, the group will join with Nashville Symphony Orchestra to premiere The Jonah People by Hannibal Lokumbe and will be traveling to Carnegie Hall to perform Rosephanye Powell’s The Cry of Jeremiah.

Ken Middleton

Ken Middleton has been a librarian at MTSU Library since 1993 with a focus on history collections and services. He was Co-Principal Investigator of an IMLS grant in 2005-2008 that developed “Volunteer Voices,” a digital collection with content from institutions throughout the state. He has continued similar collaborative work with MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation on such digital projects as Southern Places (including photos of rural African American churches) and Trials, Triumphs, & Transformations. His current research focuses on the contributions of Tennesseans to the “Defender Junior,” a page for children in the Chicago Defender newspaper that began in 1921.

Dr. Tiffany Momon

Dr. Tiffany Momon is a public historian and Assistant Professor at Sewanee: The University of the South, with years of experience participating in preserving community histories. Her work has taken her throughout the southeast, organizing community-based historic preservation projects. Momon is the founder and co-director of the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive, a black digital humanities project that centers black craftspeople, their lives, and their contributions to the making and building of America. Throughout her career, Dr. Momon has lectured on the subject of Black craftspeople at organizations such as the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Winterthur Museum and Gardens, the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum and others.

Clélie Cottle Peacock

Clélie Cottle Peacock is a Southeastern historical and mortuary archaeologist and a Nashville native. They are working as an independent GIS and archaeological research consultant while they complete their graduate thesis on the archaeology of the Post-Emancipation Black neighborhood on Bass Street at Fort Negley Park- specifically how the residents established their community, what forms it took over the years, and how these aspects can be seen in material culture. Cottle Peacock has been involved with the MTSU Bass Street Community Archaeology project since its inception in 2017 and is now Co-Directing the project with Dr. Andrew Wyatt. They are currently working under a contract with MTSU cataloging and analyzing the full Bass Street artifact collection, which is funded by a Tennessee Wars Commission Grant awarded to Dr. Andrew Wyatt in 2022.

Fisk University Stagecrafters

The Fisk University Stagecrafters was organized in April 1926 as a part of an English 142 Pageantry class. Miss L. E. Cashin, who was the Professor of Comparative Literature, was the group’s first director. Their purpose was “Fastening of the arts for art’s sake, the discovery and development of new talent, and the establishment of a little theater on Fisk’s Campus.” Nearly a century later, the Stagecrafters are still performing and thriving as they represent one of Nashville’s four HBCUs. Membership to the Stagecrafters is open campus wide. Students assist with set construction, props, costumes, publicity, stage lighting and design, sound, stage makeup, and stage management, in addition to acting, choreographing, directing, and fulfilling other vital roles.

Dr. Angela Sutton

Angela Sutton, a historian by training, is the director of the Fort Negley Descendants Project, an oral history archive of the descendants of the UNESCO Civil War Fort Negley. She is currently funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Park Service to create the Builders & Defenders database, a resource for primary source information about the approximately 18,500 enslaved and free Black people who built Nashville’s Civil War defenses and fought for our nation in the Battle of Nashville (December 1864). This database will be available in the fall of 2023.

Dr. Andrew Wyatt

Andrew Wyatt is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Middle Tennessee State University. He received his B.A. in Literature at Antioch College and his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2008. He has conducted archaeological research in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Belgium, and the Midwestern U.S., and he is currently directing excavations at the Bass Street Community at Fort Negley in Nashville.


The 2023 NCAAHC Planning Committee

  • Dr. Learotha Williams, Jr., Tennessee State University – Co-Chair
  • Linda T. Wynn, Tennessee Historical Commission/Fisk University – Co-Chair
  • Pamela Bobo, Tennessee State University
  • Dr. Joel Dark, Tennessee State University
  • Caroline Eller, Metropolitan Historical Commission
  • Dr. K.T. Ewing, Tennessee State University
  • Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, Tennessee State University
  • Gloria McKissack, Tennessee State University
  • Jamaal B. Sheats, Fisk University
  • Sharon Hull Smith, Tennessee State University
  • Tim Walker, Metropolitan Historical Commission