|Raphael Benjamin West|
Mayor of Nashville, TN
Raphael Benjamin West was born on March 31, 1911. He was from Columbia, Tennessee. He worked his way through school and attend both Cumberland Law School and Vanderbilt University. He is a member of the Democratic party. Ben West Was a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Also Ben West was a Senator of Tennessee. During his time in office be incorporated a new type of legislative. This legislative was a single member district election. West had gained a following by the African American Community in Nashville. He became mayor of Nashville in 1951. Along with him the first two African American councilmen in 40 years was elected. He also was in support of the voting reform. Ben West during his role as mayor had to encounter the great challenge of the Civil Rights Movement.
|March to Nashville City Hall|
When Ben West first received wind that sit-ins were forming he was outraged. The sit-ins were making a statement but also hurting the downtowns business. Many steered clear of downtown because of the movement and violence that was outbreaking. A turing point for Ben West was when a attorney who had defending the students of the nonviolent sit-ins and the movements home was destroyed. The same day as the attorneys house being destroyed student activists held a march to city hall. There were 2,500 students in this march including a student leader Diane Nash. This was a turing point in the Civil Rights Movement. Diane Nash questioned Ben Wests standing on segregation. She asked, "the mayor if he felt it was wrong to discriminate against a person based solely on their race or skin color." (Thorpe, website) Ben West did believe it was wrong to discriminate a person on their race. He also believed that the lunch counters should be desegregated. Something astonishing that took place after this unforgettable statement was, within three weeks lunch counters voluntarily started to desegregate. Ben West played a huge part in turing point of the Civil Rights Movement. Since he was a political figure and full of knowledge the community listened to the view points he shared. WIthout him the community would have not changed their view point on desegregation.