The Town of Gallatin
Gallatin, TN is named after Albert Gallatin, a champion of First Amendment rights in the late 1700s and Secretary of the U.S. Treasury from 1801 to 1813. Today the town boasts a population of 30,000, but back in 1970 Sumner county still remained 50% rural.
Segregation in a Small Town
To the casual observer, or the naïve or uninformed, Gallatin, Tennessee in the late 1960s could easily have been a real life counterpart to Andy Griffin’s television hometown of Mayberry. And by many appearances, that description was apt.
But those who knew better recognized that percolating just below the peaceful surface was a seething volcano of racial tension ready to erupt at any moment. The rift ran deeply through the fabric of the community, segregation dividing people into pools of black or white. Following the assassination of Martin Luther King, any previous flow of goodwill between the races had turned stagnant, resulting in a quagmire at best, and in many parts of town, a cesspool. Few people in Gallatin could envision a day when young white boys and “little nigga boys” could play peacefully together.