Carolyn Yvonne was born to Neoma Young Reed and Antonio Juan Settle in Nashville, Tennessee.
She loved life and truly lived a purposeful and remarkable one! Carolyn began
teaching early when she was only a teen at Key-Stewart United Methodist Church leading
Sunday School classes in Gallatin. Her keen intelligence was realized when she graduated
from Union High School in Gallatin, Tennessee at only sixteen years old. Carolyn earned
degrees in Education and Psychology from Tennessee State University and the University of
Tennessee- Knoxville (Nashville Campus).
Carolyn believed that all children had the ability to learn and preferred to teach those whom others had given up on. She also taught students who were inpatients at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital. Carolyn genuinely loved and cared
for her students and always went the extra mile, even if it meant arriving at school early to
comb a student’s hair because her single dad did not know how.
After retirement, she started a tutoring program at the local community center. Her program, Show Up Catch Up
(SUCU) was completely free. Her reward was seeing her students’ progress. She celebrated their successes and reminded them that even tiny improvements are successes.
Carolyn very dearly loved her husband, Thomas Bush. Thomas and Carolyn had two
daughters, Tanya and Stephanie, and numerous bonus children. It was not unusual to
welcome at least one child visiting or living with the family. Neighborhood “kids” always
continued to visit her as adults and regularly checked in with her on social media platforms.
Carolyn was naturally a nurturer and a staunch advocate for fairness.
She boldly stood up for what she believed to be just and encouraged others to do the same. She was
inquisitive, never stopped learning, and loved a challenge. Even at 84, she kept up with the
latest technology and even learned the latest TikTok dances! Carolyn loved to play basketball
and often challenged us by saying, “I can give you a lesson or a whooping! It’s your choice!”
She played high school basketball as a guard. Being of similar height and stature, each time
Union High played Clarksville, she had the daunting task of guarding future Olympian, Wilma
Rudolph. She often laughed about “not being able to handle Wilma’s hook shot!” She was
competitive in everything she did. She had to be the winner! Mommy never stopped being
active. She could often be seen shooting basketball, walking her dog, Marley (Bob Marley),
or riding her bicycle in the neighborhood.
Even as a child, Carolyn fought for fairness and fiercely defended those who would
be considered underdogs. She was a staunch advocate for non-violence and peace. While
attending Tennessee State University, she decided to join fellow TSU and Fisk University
students to peacefully challenge laws that enforced segregation in transportation and at
lunch counters. The students received non-violence training at Fisk University. In May of
1961, 21-year old Carolyn boldly and bravely set out to execute the challenge and face the
unknown. This decision would affect every African American US citizen, born and unborn.
Carolyn was arrested after boarding a Greyhound bus in Montgomery, Alabama, heading to
Jackson, Mississippi. She served her time at Parchman Penitentiary in Jackson, Mississippi. A
full detailed audio account, in her own words, is permanently located in the Civil Rights
Room at the Nashville Public Library. She is also permanently featured in civil rights
museums in Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta, and featured at the Richard Beavers Gallery in
Brooklyn, New York. New York artist Charlotta Janssen’s interpretation of Carolyn’s mug
shot became part of a series of portraits commemorating freedom riders.