Chattanooga History Center Presents 4th Lecture In Preview Series, Gallery Talks

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Chattanooga History Center will present the fourth lecture in a special preview series, Gallery Talks, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29. 

The series is examining each gallery visitors will encounter in the Center's new exhibit, scheduled to open late this year.  Each preview stands as an independent program, and the January 29th presentation is "Imbued With the Spirit of Freedom": African American Chattanooga.  CHC Executive Director and Historian, Dr. Daryl Black, will present the program, which will examine the reasons certain artifacts were chosen for the exhibit, and, if the stage of construction permits, include a visit to the space the gallery will occupy to gain an understanding of how it relates to the whole.  

The fee is $5 per person (CHC members are free). Space is limited and pre-registration is required by Monday, Jan. 28. Call 423 265-3247 to register.

During and after the Civil War, self-emancipating slaves and their descendants created, in Chattanooga, one of the nation's most creative and cohesive African-American communities.  At the end of the war, the city's population was demographically African American, with both former slaves and free men participating in the operation of the town on many levels.  By 1875, the population was about 35% African American.  Though Jim Crow laws had countered emancipation in many respects, African Americans built a viable community, with churches at its core, and teachers important leaders.  By the end of the 19th century, a network of African American business leaders was established, and though they had very limited access to capital, they worked as lawyers and merchants serving the black community.

The community worked hard to maintain and build up the rights of its citizens.  Throughout the decades following the Civil War, African American leaders, such as newspaper editor Randolph Miller, worked to halt the moves toward segregation and disfranchisement.  The long, slow struggle for equality in the legal system finally culminated in the change of Chattanooga's laws as a direct result of the Howard High School student-led sit-ins of 1960.

Through the struggles of the 1950's and 60's, black Chattanoogans continued to be a vital part of the city's fabric.

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