June 2020 ~
The statement “Black Lives Matter,” on so many signs across the country should be obvious to students of Knoxville history. We live in a part of the country where some areas, and some whole counties, have very small racial-minority populations that can be too easy to ignore. But in Knoxville, the African American population has always been significant, in fact greater than that of America as a whole–not just in numbers but in impact on our culture. Black lives have played a role in nearly every aspect of the city’s history, in ways that haven’t always been acknowledged. As a city-based historical nonprofit, we consider it essential to our mission to remind the world of the contributions of our racial and ethnic minorities. This job will never be complete, of course, but here’s a sample of what we’ve done so far.
Civil Rights Era:
Dr. William Lynn Weaver remembers his days at desegregated West High School in the 1960s on the Bearden Community History Page. Direct links: a documentary, “How the West Was One” by Marcus Carmon on YouTube and Dr. Weaver’s NPR StoryCorps interviews.