YWCAs in the South were segregated until the early 1960s. These separate YWCAs were known as Blue Triangle branches, and Nashville’s was the largest, with more than 700 members. The Blue Triangle – Pearl Street Center was located just a few blocks from Fisk University. The first Blue Triangle site was located on 5th Avenue. After urban renewal forced the YWCA to relocate, members raised the funds and purchased the property at 1708 Pearl Street. The new Blue Triangle building was dedicated in 1953 and remained there until the branches integrated and merged in 1967.
Throughout the early 20th century, the Blue Triangle Branch developed social programs to support the African American community in Nashville. They also advocated against white mob violence, whether it took the form of extra-judicial lynchings or state executions of Black people despite limited evidence of guilt. The brave political advocacy of these women reminds us to speak out against racial violence in all its forms.
On Tuesday, March 29, a Metro historical marker recognizing the YWCA Blue Triangle Branch was unveiled and dedicated at 17th and Pearl Streets. More than two dozen YWCA board members, supporters, and elected officials joined YWCA president and CEO Sharon K. Roberson and Metro Nashville Mayor John Cooper for the event.
Blue Triangle historical photos and documents courtesy of the Tennessee State Library & Archives. Visit the TN State Library & Archives and the Nashville Public Library – Downtown Branch to learn more about the Blue Triangle Branch.