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24 Nashville Black Leaders to Know in 2024

The Tennessean

February 2, 2024

In the heart of Nashville, a city pulsating with rich, cultural tapestry, the influence of Black leaders resonates more powerfully than ever in 2024. These trailblazers of today embody resilience, innovation and a commitment to fostering community change. Men and women that ensure our children are safe; prepared for future careers; emboldened to sound off in the face of injustice; inspired to dream.

Some are familiar and others less well-known, but their impact extends beyond respective sectors; journeys and dynamic narratives that elevate our collective aspirations. Founders, first responders and faith leaders. Entrepreneurs and executives. An architect and artists.

This list, curated with support from Tennessean staffers and community stakeholders, represents 24 influential community leaders to follow during Black History Month 2024. Of course, there are many others, but we believe this account gives a clear snapshot of Nashville’s best and brightest.

In honing the lineup, The Tennessean decided to focus on community leaders not already serving in elected political office. This decision was not made to discount the impact and achievements of Nashville’s Black lawmakers and thought leaders. Indeed, many are making a profound impact  from the halls of the state Capitol to the corridors of the Metro Courthouse and beyond.

Let’s celebrate these 24 leaders making a difference in Nashville. Click here for the full list.


Derrick Moore, E.J. Reed and Clint Gray

Three Tennessee State University roommates — Derrick Moore, E.J. Reed and Clint Gray — struck cheese when they founded a new pizzeria concept on North Nashville’s Buchanan Street, part of the city’s original African American business district.

Their restaurant, Slim & Husky’s, opened in 2017 to hourlong lines and expanded later that year with a neighboring cinnamon bun concept. Slim & Husky’s has since grown into a thriving chain of restaurants and helped to reinvigorate Buchanan Street. The chain now has 13 locations, including one in California and three in Georgia.

In 2021, Slim & Husky’s became the first Black-owned business to open on Nashville’s famed Broadway strip in the Fifth + Broadway development. Two years later, Slim & Husky’s was a semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef “outstanding restaurateur” award.