If you went to the theatres, you would go in the front and you'd pay money and you'd go around to the side and go up the stairs to the balcony to watch a movie.
-- Elizabeth McClain, Nashville civil rights leader
When they needed popcorn or Cokes or something like that, they would have to go downstairs, go out, come around and get whatever they need to go back up to that balcony.
-- Bobby Lovett, historian
Black residents of Nashville created a separate world to escape the indignities of Jim Crow. There was a black business district downtown with banks, a publishing house and many independent entrepreneurs. In North Nashville, there were three predominantly African American institutions of higher learning. Black leaders and intellectuals, a strong middle class, and working class blacks formed a vibrant community in these neighborhoods. The neighborhood provided all services, from stores to movie theaters, from churches to funeral homes, schools, a library and a fire department.
We did not go to the white movies, because I refused to go through the alleys.
-- Marcus Gunter, former Vanderbilt colleague of Vivien Thomas