Nashville Public Library officials have told Nashville’s chapter of Black Lives Matter that meetings that welcome only people of color can’t take place inside the city’s libraries, reports The Tennessean.
That decision has outraged members of Black Lives Matter, who say the library canceled all future meetings the group had organized for later this month.
But library officials say they’re simply enforcing a library policy that says all meetings at their facilities must be open to the general public and news media.
“The library didn’t cancel anyone’s meeting,” said library spokeswoman Emily Waltenbaugh, referring to a Black Lives Matter meeting for Saturday morning that the organization has now rescheduled for a church instead.
“We’re a library,” she said. “We’re taxpayer funded. We have to be open to anyone anytime.”
For the past few months, Black Lives Matter in Nashville has held its chapter meetings at the North Branch Library in North Nashville.
According to Joshua Crutchfield, an organizer of the Nashville chapter of Black Lives Matter, the group has a rule: Only black people as well as non-black people of color are allowed to attend the gatherings. That means white people are excluded from attending.
An individual complained this week to the library system about the Black Lives Matter policy, prompting a library employee to inform the group that events excluding groups of people can’t be held inside Nashville libraries. As a result, the group plans to have its meeting Saturday morning at Dixon Memorial United Methodist Church in North Nashville.
“Due to white supremacy in our local government, this week’s BLM General Body Meeting location has changed,” a notice posted Friday on the Nashville chapter of Black Lives Matter’s Facebook page reads. The notice says the group’s meetings are “open to black and non-black people of color only.”
“We were surprised about it, but we shouldn’t have been,” Crutchfield told The Tennessean of the library’s decision. “We kind of know the history about how this goes in this country. … It’s definitely something we want to make public to tell people what’s going on in the city.”