CFMT Grantee: Relief is coming to displaced beauty, barber shops along historic Jefferson Street corridor

The Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship (IMF) started as a deliberate direct action group, attacking social evils without subscribing to the formalities of structure or bureaucracy. They were anxious to get all the ministers of all denominations to come together for fellowship-discussion which would strengthen them for direct social action to unitedly, collectively and cooperatively attack the social evils which plagued Nashville after the 1954 Supreme Court decision on public schools desegregation. … The IMF has never been a rigidly structured organization. They achieved and stayed on the job and stayed together because of the fellowship style of leadership. The IMF has received a $30,000 grant from the Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund to work with the NAACP in a program to help Jefferson Street beauty shops and barber shops hit by the tornadoes of March 3.

“Being a barber is about taking care of the people.”
— Singer-songwriter Anthony Hamilton

Nashville’s Jefferson Street corridor, once the city’s thriving epicenter of historically African American business and culture, has survived urban renewal and desegregation and has slowly battled back in attempts to restore its past luster.

Nowhere has this been more evident than with the numerous beauty salons and barber shops that have sprung up along Jefferson Street as well as other parts of North and East Nashville through the years.

That’s progress, one scissor snip at a time.

Then a deadly series of tornadoes tore through Middle Tennessee in the early hours of March 3.

Jefferson Street and its North Nashville neighborhood suffered significant damage, as did barber shops and beauty salons along the corridor, as well as in adjoining Germantown and across the Cumberland River in East Nashville.

“Our customers are like family,” stylist Narkieta Neal of East Nashville’s A-Luv Salon told The Tennessean’s Yihyun Jeong in a March 8 story and the tornado damage experienced by salons and barber shops. “And you know, family is important, especially around here.”

Beauty shops and barber shops have long been major parts of historically African American communities. From the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture:

“Since the turn of the 19th century, beauty salons and barber shops have served as special places among African Americans. They have been places not only to get hair care services but locations where black people could be vulnerable and talk about issues of importance in the community. There were spaces where customers played games such as chess, cards, and dominoes, while having conversations about local gossip, politics, and community affairs.”

The Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship has partnered with the NAACP and have started a program to help tornado-damaged Jefferson Street beauty shops and barber shops.

The IMF has been involved with tornado relief efforts since canceling its regular weekly Wednesday noon meeting in early to deploy members to help with cleanup efforts and dispersing food and supplies at the disaster recovery center at Lee Chapel AME Church in North Nashville, says IMF President Chris Jackson, senior pastor of Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church, located at 1400 Jefferson St.

IMF’s first meeting post-storm occurred on Zoom and featured personal testimonials from those who have been displaced by the tornado, including pastors from Nashville’s Greater St. John Missionary Baptist Church (2200 26th Avenue North), Braden Memorial United Methodist Church (803 Main St.), Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church (908 Monroe St.), Celebration Christian Center (1215 Ninth Ave. N.), as well as from Tabitha Mundy, co-owner of displaced business Music City Cleaners at 624 Jefferson St.

Representatives from FEMA and the Small Business Administration also were on hand to provide disaster relief information.

Meanwhile, check dispersal for tornado-damaged beauty shops, barber shops and other businesses begin in early April from the IFC and NAACP.

Then the organizations will mark progress. One snip at a time.

Volunteers from the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship help with cleanup efforts and dispersing food and supplies at the disaster recovery center at Lee Chapel AME Church in North Nashville. Photos courtesy of Quentin Cox, Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship.


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