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Lovett, Bobby L. 1943-

Lovett, Bobby L. 1943-


Born January 19, 1943, in Memphis, TN; son of Edward Kirk and Frances Marie Lovett; married Elaine Harvey, December 11, 1965 (divorced, August, 1981); married Lueatrice Green, July 14, 1984; children: (first marriage) Todd Allen, Bridgett Franzette, Kenyatta Kirk; (second marriage) Leigh Francine, Catherine Lueatrice. Education: Arkansas AM&N State College, B.S., 1967; University of Arkansas, M.A., 1969, Ph.D. 1978. Hobbies and other interests: Writing and gardening.


Office—Department of History, Geography, and Political Science, Tennessee State University, 3500 John A. Merritt Blvd., Nashville, TN 37209-1561. E-mail—[email protected]


Historian, educator, and writer. White State High School, Memphis, TN, teacher, 1969-1970; Eureka College, Eureka, IL, assistant professor of history, 1970-73; Tennessee State University, Nashville, professor of history, beginning 1973, dean of arts and sciences, beginning 1983 (some sources say 1989).


Southern Historical Association, Association for Study of Negro Life and History, Organization of American Historians, Tennessee Historical Society, Arkansas Historical Society, Kappa Alpha Psi, Phi Alpha Theta, Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Delta Mu.


U.S. Department of Education fellow, 1967-69; Distinguished Public Service Award, 1996; Research Support Award, 2000.


A Black Man's Dream: The First 100 Years: Richard Henry Boyd and the National Baptist Publishing Board, Mega Publishing (Jacksonville, FL), 1993.

(Editor, with Linda T. Wynn) Profiles of African Americans in Tennessee, Annual Local Conference on Afro-American Culture and History (Nashville, TN), 1996.

The African-American History of Nashville, Tennessee, 1780-1930: Elites and Dilemmas ("Black Community Studies Series"), University of Arkansas Press (Fayetteville, AR), 1999.

The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee: A Narrative History, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN), 2005.

How It Came to Be: The Boyd Family's Contribution to African American Religious Publishing from the 19th to the 21st Century, Lightning Source Press (LaVergne, TN), 2007.

Contributor to books, including The Southern Elite and Social Change: Essays in Honor of Willard B. Gatewood, Jr. and The Art of William Edmondson, 2000. Contributor to historical journals.


Bobby L. Lovett is a historian and educator whose primary interests are American, urban, and African American history. He has written on these topics in both academic journals and books. Lovett's book The African-American History of Nashville, Tennessee, 1780-1930: Elites and Dilemmas focuses on the history of Nashville's black community, from the city's 1779 founding as Fort Nashborough through the 1930s. He explores the impact of the Civil War and the civil rights movement on the city's black population and delves into various aspects of education, politics, religion, and business. He also examines the various roles that the city's black elite played in the city and how these roles changed over time. "This study examines the relationships which existed between the black elite in Nashville and other power blocs over a one hundred and fifty year period," noted C. Alvin Hughes in the Mississippi Quarterly. "The basic theme of this study is that the black elite and the white elite formed ‘a peculiar alliance’ which worked well until the Civil War era; then the black elite reached out to the Northern liberals and the Republican Party as the white elite became anti-Union and conservative Democrats."

The author divides his book into three parts. The first part focuses on the Revolutionary Era through the end of the Civil War. The next part examines the first few decades following the end of slavery and how African Americans faced difficult times in creating a new community. Lovett ends his book by discussing how the black elite of Nashville formed collaborations with organizations and individuals throughout the country as part of a nationwide response by African Americans to a series of crises affecting black communities at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century.

"In this book Bobby Lovett addresses the generally accepted misconception of the uniformity of the African American experience, both in slavery and freedom, and offers valuable insight into the complex hierarchy of a subculture within a subculture," wrote Reavis L. Mitchell, Jr., in the Journal of Southern of History. Hughes noted in his review in the Mississippi Quarterly, "The author should be commended for producing a very remarkable work." He added later in the same review, "It is an essential book for anyone interested in America's historical development."

In his 2005 book The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee: A Narrative History, the author describes what he sees as three phases of the civil rights efforts in the state: the close of the Civil War to 1880, 1881 to 1934, and the period from 1935 onward. This last period is the author's primary focus as he writes about Jim Crow Tennessee, that is, the racial caste system that operated in the state, and about public school desegregation following the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954. He goes on to examine the growth of the modern civil rights movement via sit-ins and other activities designed to foster public desegregation, from the banishment of separate drinking fountains and "whites only" establishments to desegregation in the political and higher education arenas. Drawing from his research in libraries, various manuscripts and papers, and his own observations and interviews, the author focuses on the cities of Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville. He also profiles many of the organizers of the civil rights efforts in these cities.

Luther J. Adams, writing in the Journal of Southern History, noted that the book "represent[s] an important addition to our understanding of the connection between local and national civil rights movement in the South. More important, [Lovett] directs our attention to the value of examining civil rights in the upper South." Journal of African American History contributor Will Sarvis commented that for much of the book the author "manages to weave Tennessee events into the regional and national tapestry of the civil rights era."



American Journal of Legal History, October, 2005, Carroll Van West, review of The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee: A Narrative History, pp. 435-436.

Choice, February, 2000, W. Glasker, review of The African-American History of Nashville, Tennessee, 1780-1930: Elites and Dilemmas, p. 1157; June, 2006, J.F. Findlay, review of The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee, p. 1890.

Journal of African American History, winter, 2007, Will Sarvis, review of The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee, p. 135.

Journal of Southern History, May, 2001, Reavis L. Mitchell, Jr., review of The African-American History of Nashville, Tennessee, 1780-1930, p. 438; February, 2007, Luther J. Adams, review of The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee, p. 220.

Mississippi Quarterly, summer, 2000, C. Alvin Hughes, review of The African-American History of Nashville, Tennessee, 1780-1930, p. 494.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 1999, review of The African-American History of Nashville, Tennessee, 1780-1930, p. 54; August, 2006, review of The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee.


University of Tennessee Press, (February 18, 2008), brief profile of author.

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