American Baptist College’s Griggs Hall

NASHVILLE, TN — On the Road to 100, American Baptist College celebrates its 97th anniversary on the Road to 100 in 2024. 

The anniversary event will be Thursday, October 7, at 6 p.m. on the lawn of Griggs Hall. This year’s event focuses on historic Griggs Hall, the first building on the 54-acre campus. 

 It is also the building that Civil Rights activists of the Non-Violent Movement used for further training during the 1960s, after they had left training at First Baptist, Capitol Hill, Clark Memorial and Gordon Memorial churches taught by the Rev. James Lawson and other leaders.

The featured speaker is Ms. Linda Wynn, of the Tennessee Historical Commission and Assistant Director for State Programs. She also is on the faculty of Fisk University and teaches in the Department of History and Political Science. 

Built in 1925, the Griggs Hall is the original building on the campus of American Baptist College.  It was named for father and son, Drs. Allen R. and Sutton E. Griggs.  In 1901, the younger Griggs founded and operated the Orion Publishing Company.  The author of more than 33 books, five of which were novels. Dr. Sutton E. Griggs is well known for his response to the racial injustices of his day.  From 1925 to 1926,  he served as president of the College.

 The Griggs Hall renovation began in 2013 and was completed in 2015, in part with federal funds. The College was awarded HBCU status in 2013 by the U.S. Dept. of Education which allowed the school to receive federal funds.  Other funds were provided by and special individual contributions.  Those contributors will be recognized at the October 7, anniversary celebration.

Wynn, an ardent researcher on Nashville Civil Rights said, “American Baptist College has a treasured history in Civil Rights activities that changed not only Nashville but the entire world.  It is a special place we should honor and celebrate.”

Because of student involvement in Civil Rights activities of the 1960s, the school, located on what is  affectionately called, “The Holy Hill,” produced two individuals who received the highest civilian honor by the president of the United States; Rev. C. T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis.

Former American Baptist College Board of Trustee chairman, Rev. Dr. Julius Scruggs is the centerpiece honoree, having made a significant contribution to the completion of the building.

Others include   Dr. Forrest Harris, Rev. Martin Espinosa, Rev. John Tolbert, Jr., Rev. Davie Tucker, Rev. James Turner, Sr., Dr. Riggins Ezell, and Dr. Jasper Brewster.

“The College continues to research activities and participants, who have traveled significantly during this centennial journey, and seeks those who may have been omitted in this project, “said, Phyllis Qualls, Vice president for Institutional Advancement.

For more information on this event, contact Andre’ Trice at atrice@abcnash.edu