In a move that could not make us more proud, the iconic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee has removed the sign which hung above the front of the room’s balcony reading “Confederate Gallery.”
The sign was added in 1897 when the building was still a church and needed a balcony to host the many attendees. Many of these were confederate soldiers. The need arose during a Confederate Veterans’ Association convention where over 100,000 men were in town.
Following the convention, the balcony was renamed the “Confederate Gallery.” This is when the sign was hung. The one which has been moved into a different part of the Ryman was a remake, after the first was lost. It was re-hung in the 90’s.
Something to note, when events were televised, a different sign was hung in its place reading “1892 Ryman Auditorium.” This should be a clear picture that the normal sign was unnecessary as it brought a level of shame to the building.
As the Nashville Scene points out, during the same year of the Confederate Veterans gathering, the Ryman was also hosted the graduation ceremonies for Meharry Medical College. This was the first Southern medical school to admit African-American students.
Ryman consultant David Ewing stated:
“If you come to the Ryman [as] a big name performer and you’re looking right out at the center of the balcony and you see that sign, you don’t know what it means. Or if you’re a fan that comes at night, not during the tour, you don’t know what it means either. This is the appropriate place to have the sign and tell the story of 125 years of the Ryman and particularly how the gallery got built.”
The Ryman is one of the most amazing concert venues on the planet. It truly holds magic within its walls. This move only makes the magic grow.
Photo credit: Ryman Auditorium