TSLA Commemorates Black History Month with Updated Online Exhibit

Thursday, February 14, 2013
In celebration of Black History Month, the Tennessee State Library and Archives is introducing a greatly expanded version of one of its most popular online exhibits: “This Honorable Body: African American Legislators in 19th Century Tennessee.” Available at http://tn.gov/tsla/exhibits/blackhistory/index.htm, the revised exhibit offers many intriguing new features.

The original site was created in 2006 at the request of the Tennessee Legislative Black Caucus. Dedicated to the 14 African-Americans elected to the Tennessee General Assembly between 1873 and 1887, it provided a considerable body of historical material that had never before been assembled in one place.

Since that time, however, information gleaned from descendants, historical newspapers, and other sources has produced even greater insight into the lives and works of those early black legislators. The updated exhibit, which is part of the Secretary of State’s web site, will feature more detailed biographies of each of the legislators, most of whom were born as slaves, and the texts of the bills they sponsored while serving in the General Assembly.

The exhibit also includes transcriptions of other documents relevant to the study of black history, from an early draft of the Declaration of Independence to the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as timelines of significant events in African-American history and civil rights, with special emphasis on Tennessee.

A section dedicated to the Jim Crow era examines voting rights, miscegenation laws, “grandfather clauses,” and Tennessee’s first Jim Crow law. Visitors to the site can examine some of the actual registration forms and tests used to discourage African-American voters during the period.

A new section for educators offers quizzes, scavenger hunts, and PowerPoint programs to help introduce students to important but little-known aspects of post-Reconstruction history.

The site includes dozens of new photographs as well as an article about the 2010 dedication of a statue honoring Sampson Keeble, Tennessee’s first black state representative, and his fellow legislators. The Keeble bust, which now stands near the House Chamber in the Tennessee Capitol, has been featured in national television programs, web sites, and publications.


Chester Martin Remembers Jay Craven, Musician

No history of the music scene in Chattanooga could be written without Jay Craven appearing as a central figure. He has assumed so many titles and roles as a   musician here as to be synonymous with the entire musical genre. We can thank an early childhood illness for helping to shape Jay's musical career, and we can also thank Jay's brother, Roy, for inadvertently directing ... (click for more)

Chester Martin Remembers His Uncle, John Wesley Smith

My great uncle was born in the village of Washington, Tn., on the banks of the Tennessee River in Rhea County. He grew up in a typically large family of the day, and one of his sisters was my grandmother, Mattie Smith Young. The Civil War treated his family very un-civilly, witnessing the burning of his home by neighbors after the Battle of Chickamauga. He endured a number ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Firefighter Arrested For Robbery Of Hixson Convenience Store

The Chattanooga Police Department has arrested a Chattanooga firefighter in connection with a robbery on Sunday morning. The firefighter has been identified as Steven Kyle Ratledge. Firefighter Ratledge was assigned to Station 19 in Hixson and has been with the department for approximately 3 1/2 years. Firefighter Ratledge has been placed on leave without pay as the investigation ... (click for more)

Rescuers Help Man After He Falls 30 Feet From Signal Bluff

Rescuers helped a man back up after he fell 30 feet on a Signal Mountain bluff on Saturday night. However, he was not seriously injured. At 11 p.m., a 911 call was made reporting the fall. Walden's Ridge Emergency Services responded to 1425 East Brow Road. When rescue personnel arrived on the scene, they reported a 25-year-old male had fallen 30 feet off the side of ... (click for more)

Being Proactive With Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s and is the 14th leading cause of death in the United States. It affects an estimated one million Americans and four to six million worldwide,  There is no cure for Parkinson’s, and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States alone. Source: National Parkinson’s Foundation  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Teachers Day Tomorrow

Years ago at a ritzy dinner party in Westchester County, New York, an editor from Reader’s Digest was seated next to the prettiest woman in the room and noticed her overall glow and countenance was such that he had never noticed a tell-tale scar under her nose. After the dishes were cleared away, admit the mindless chatter, he asked if she would mind telling him about it. The ... (click for more)