Nashville is the state capital of Tennessee. Bangladeshi community here consists of people from different professions. Due to the OP-1 and DV programs of the U.S. and other reasons, many Bangladeshi families are making Nashville as their second home recently.

Bangladeshi families started settling in Nashville around mid 60's. Some of the pioneers were Dr. Zillur Atahar, Dr. Nasrul Hoque, Dr. Habibur Rahman, Dr. M. Ismail, Dr. M. Yunus (Nobel Laureate), and Dr. M. Fakhruddin. Dr. Yunus completed his PhD in Economics from Vanderbilt University and later taught in Middle Tennessee State University. During the bloody Independence War of Bangladesh in 1971, these patriotic sons and daughters of Bangladesh formed "Bangladesh Committee" to facilitate and gain support for independent Bangladesh locally and through UN as told recently by Dr. Yunus in a TV interview. They also bought and sent a 'Radio Transmitter' to Agartala, capital of Tripura, a state of India. This state is surrounded on north, west and south by Bangladesh; Pakistani Dictator forged a case named 'Agartala Conspiracy' in the Supreme Court against the then leader of disparity movement, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Later, Father of the Nation of Bangladesh). After the independence, this 'Bangladesh Committee' ended with success. Within a year of independence, Dr. Yunus and some others left Nashville. It is relevant to mention that almost from the start; Dr. Fakhruddin acted as the guardian of Bangladeshi community in Nashville due to his leadership ability.

In the late 70's and early 80's, more families like Dr. M. Mohiuddin, Dr. M. Qureshi, Barrister M. Hoque, Dr. M. Maleque, Dr. S. Rokeya, Dr. S. Islam, and Dr. S. Jahan came to Nashville. Some student-families like Dr. B. Zaman and others also came to Nashville for higher studies and expanded the existing Bangladeshi community. It has been a continuous growth like in other cities of North America but the rate of growth increased since mid 90's due to OP-1 and DV programs of American Government. By now many families have come and gone for different reasons; and presently there are around 250 Bangladeshi living in Nashville.

Until April 1993, there was no Bangladesh Association in this community. In July of 1992, Dr. M. Sarkar came to Nashville as a faculty member of Tennessee State University (TSU). Because of his involvement in cultural activities, Dr. Jahan initially asked him to form Bangladesh Association of Nashville (BAN). His vision was that Bangladesh is an independent country and we should have an association. He tried to convince Dr. Sarkar that because of his cultural ability, it was then feasible to form an association in Nashville. In those days, Dr. Zaman (a music lover and a faculty member of TSU) often invited Dr. Sarkar and other people in his home and organized singing parties; and he too encouraged Dr. Sarkar to forming Bangladesh Association.

In April 1993, Dr. Sarkar organized Eid-ul-Fitr celebration party in his Western Hill Apartment's party room. After dinner, Dr. Fakhruddin declared the creation of BAN with Dr. Maleque as President, Dr. Zaman as General Secretary and Dr. Sarkar as Cultural Secretary. This way, the good old journey of BAN started. In January 1994 Dr. Sarkar, as President of BAN, wrote its constitution keeping provisions for Board of Trustees consisting of Dr. Fakhruddin, Dr. Maleque, Dr. Sarkar, Dr. Halima, Dr. Jahan, Dr. Zaman and Dr. Rokeya. Dr. Sarkar also registered BAN to the State of Tennessee. Now members of BAN consist of Nashville and different cities around Nashville like Clarksville, Hendersonville, Tullahoma, Franklin, and Murfreesboro.

Since then BAN has successfully conducted many social and international activities to demonstrate the rich cultural heritage of Bangladesh; such as music, poetry, literature, versatile foods, hospitality, religiosity, friendliness, political consciousness etc. In those years, Dr. Sarkar arranged lot of rehearsals and tried his best to induce Bangladeshi culture to the new generation by training and exposing them to patriotic songs, poems and other audio-visual activities. Almost all the children from all families participated in different activities for different occasions like Independence Day, Victory Day, International Mother Language Day, Eid Day, International Fair Day, Reception Ceremony for Dr. Yunus (in 1996, Dr. Sarkar and his son, Milon Sarkar, performed songs), etc. In 2006, a promising addition of a cultural magazine named 'BORTIKA' was published to further demonstrate the creative ability of the Bangladeshi community in Nashville.

by Dr. M. Sarkar
Professor, Dept. of Physics and Mathematics
Tennessee State University

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