CHATTANOOGA, TN – The Bessie Smith Cultural Center will commemorate Black History Month in February 2023 with a full calendar of events, featuring educational programs, tours, and in-person and virtual public programs.
The month kicks off with a “Fireside Chat: The Power of Activism” with Willie “Mukasa Dada” Ricks and John Edwards. Willie Ricks, also known as “Mukasa Dada” or “Papa Ricks,” was a prominent Civil Rights activist, community organizer, and leader in the struggle for equal rights in the United States. John Edwards is the owner/publisher of the Chattanooga News Chronicle and a local historian.
On February 9th in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga, a documentary film “Shared Legacies: The African American-Jewish Civil Rights Alliance,” will be shown at 6:00 pm in the Bessie Smith Performance Hall. “Shared Legacies,” tells the often-forgotten story of the coalition and friendship between the Jewish and African American communities during the Civil Rights Movement. On February 16th a panel discussion with African American physicians from the Mountain City Medical Society will be held at 6:00 pm in the Bessie Smith Performance Hall. The physicians will discuss the disparities in health and healthcare among African Americans. The event will be live-streamed at www.bessiesmithcc.org/bhm. On February 23rd at 6:00 pm, in the Bessie Smith Performance Hall, Dr. Clark White “Deacon Bluz” and a guest will discuss Chattanooga African American history from the early years to today. This will be an interactive discussion with attendees and will be live-streamed at www.bessiesmithcc.org/bhm.
The Bessie Smith Art Contest Exhibit Opening will be held Saturday, February 25 from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm with free admission to the museum on this day.
The Chattanooga African American Museum will be open for tours Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm and Saturdays from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm during February.
The Bessie Smith Cultural Center and Chattanooga African American Museum celebrates Black History 365 days a year. We believe that the African American culture and history of Chattanooga should be available to all community members and visitors. Arts, culture, and history are essential for building community, supporting development, nurturing health, and wellbeing, and contributing to economic opportunity. Collectively, arts and culture enable understanding of the past and envision a shared, more equitable future.
The Black History Month programs are being sponsored by the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee Arts Commission, and Erlanger Health System. For more information, visit www.bessiesmithcc.org