10 Places to Celebrate Black History Year-Round in Tennessee

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
The Bessie Smith Cultural Center, Chattanooga.

Tennessee has 14 locations along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. The state is home to famous writers, music legends and talented photographers. Learn their stories at these 10 places to celebrate Black history year-round in Tennessee.

Legends of Culture and History

Chattanooga’s Bessie Smith Cultural Center pays homage to the late “Empress of the Blues,” Bessie Smith. The center preserves and celebrates African American history and culture through art, education, research and entertainment. Exhibits incorporate technology, interactive kiosks and a children’s education corner. The new exhibit Chattanooga’s Black Soundtrack highlights local artists, like Usher Kane Brown and The Impressions. bessiesmithcc.org

In Knoxville, the Beck Cultural Exchange Center is a historic community treasure dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting artifacts and evidence of contributions relating to history and culture of African Americans in East Tennessee and America. The center creates immersive educational experiences to promote learning for present and future generations. From arts and culture to attractions, restaurants, breweries and businesses, there are tons of ways to celebrate Black history in Knoxville. visitknoxville.com

The Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton shares the legacy of what happened in 1956—when the “Clinton 12” fought for equal access to education—and how it shaped the students and the community. Step inside a 1950s classroom and follow the chronological story of desegregation at Clinton High School, the first integration of a public high school in the South, with life-size photographs and narratives. tnmuseum.org

Eat, Drink and Be Welcome

Distiller Nearest Green taught his friend Jack Daniel how to make whiskey.

An unlikely friendship created maybe the greatest story you’ve never heard, told at Nearest Green Distillery in Shelbyville, south of Nashville. Tour the distillery and taste Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, which honors the world’s first-known African American master distiller, Nearest Green, who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. Be sure to stay for local cuisine, Sunday Brunch or a cocktail at Humble Baron, the world’s longest bar, where everyone has a seat at the table. unclenearest.com/distillery

Ruby’s Happy Farm

North of Nashville in Cross Plains, Ruby’s Happy Farm was built on family legacy land and named after the family matriarch. Ashley Brooks is the third generation of her family to farm this land and opened the property to the community in the inaugural Juneteenth Festival. 2024’s event, Ruby’s Happy Farm Feel Good Festival, is slated for June 22, 2024 and will include vendors, entertainment and presentations on agriculture, history and wellness, including beekeeping, self-care, small farm operations and a history of Juneteenth. rubyshappyfarm.com

Museums Trace History, Music, Arts & Sciences

In Franklin, the McLemore House, purchased by former enslaved man Harvey McLemore in 1880, was a model of community development in Hard Bargain, the first African American middle-class neighborhood in Franklin consisting of carpenters, teachers, masons and farmers. The house is now a museum promoting cultural and historical preservation, celebrating the rich African American heritage of Franklin and Williamson County. williamsonheritage.org

The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) in the heart of Nashville, “Music City,” is the only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the music genres created, inspired or influenced by African Americans. Interactive exhibits allow guests to write a blues song, sing with a gospel choir, learn dances, do a rap battle and learn about jazz, blues, rap, pop and stories of renowned artists like Isaac Hayes, Beyonce, Rihanna, Prince and others. nmaam.org

A musical legend known as “The Queen of Rock,” Tina Turner was born in the tiny town of Nutbush but attended school in a one-room schoolhouse in nearby Brownsville, one of the first schools built in the South for African Americans. Located on the grounds of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center the Tina Turner Museum at Flagg Grove School, explores the largest known collection of Tina memorabilia, costumes and stories. westtnheritage.com/tina-turner-museum

The childhood home of author Alex Haley, who wrote the groundbreaking novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, is now the Alex Haley Museum & Interpretive Center, located in Henning. Roots, which was made into a landmark TV miniseries in 1977, was inspired by family stories young Alex heard on the porch of his home, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Exhibits feature Haley’s work, childhood memorabilia and references to people who inspired the characters in Roots. alexhaleymuseum.org

Bonus #11: Virtual Black History Month Tour in Jonesborough

This Virtual Black History Month Tour in Historic Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town, is an interactive, app-based tour starting at the Jonesborough Visitors Center and taking visitors on a walk up East Main Street and down West Main Street, viewing spots that are pivotal to the history of the Black community and to the history of Jonesborough along the way. jonesborough.com

For more information, visit tnvacation.com.

This post first appeared at Prevue’s sister site, recommend.com.

You May Also Be Interested In…

Seattle Celebrates Black History, Arts & Culture

2024 DEI Report Card

Black Speakers Collection Keeps Growing

Print Friendly, PDF & Email