Bessie Smith Cultural Center Announces Lineup Of Events Celebrating Black History Month

  • Tuesday, January 30, 2024
The Bessie Smith Cultural Center announces the schedule of events and activities in celebration of Black History Month this year in their aim to "honor the rich history, achievements and contributions of the African American community."

Officials said, "Throughout the month of February, the Bessie Smith Cultural Center will host a diverse range of events, providing an opportunity for individuals of all backgrounds to come together, learn and celebrate. The center is committed to fostering an inclusive environment that promotes education, awareness and appreciation of Black history and culture."

Event highlights:
1.
Local History Unearthed:  The Steele Home Archaeological Project
• Date: Feb. 1
• Time: 6 p.m.
• Location: Bessie Smith Cultural Center
• Description: Join the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and UT Knoxville as well as the Bessie Smith Cultural Center as they host an information session on the Steele Home for Needy Children Archaeological Project. Livestream Available at www.bessiesmithcc.org/bhm. Registration required (free) for in-person attendance.

2. Screening: “GOSPEL” – A sneak peek at the PBS Documentary series before the broadcast Premier followed by a community discussion.
• Date: Feb. 8
• Time: 6 p.m.
• Location: Bessie Smith Cultural Center 
• Description: In partnership with WTCI-PBS a sneak peek of GOSPEL, a documentary series from acclaimed scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., GOSPEL explores Black spirituality in sermon and song. From the blues to hip-hop, African Americans have been the driving force of sonic innovation for over a century. While musical styles come and go, there is one sound that has been a constant source of strength, courage, and wisdom from the pulpit to the choir lofts on any given Sunday: gospel. The screening will be followed by a community discussion on the evolution of Gospel. Registration required (free) for in-person attendance.

3. Bessie Smith Art Contest Exhibit Opening and Community Day
• Date: Feb. 10
• Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
• Location: Bessie Smith Cultural Center
• Description: Join us for the exhibit opening of the Bessie Smith Art Contest entries.  Area students created images depicting African American Culture in one of three artist styles:  Kara Walker, Jean Michael Basquiet, and Jacob Lawrence.  Their artwork will be exhibited at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center through the end of March.  The museum will be open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with free admission.

4. Minority Health & Health Equity Series – Cardiovascular Disease  
• Date: Feb. 15
• Time: 6 p.m.
• Location: Bessie Smith Cultural Center
• Description: Join us for the Minority Health and Health Equity Series on Cardiovascular Disease – an empowering panel discussion with local physicians. Discover the importance of understanding cardiovascular disease in minority communities. Gain insights, ask questions, and be part of a conversation that matters. Presenting Sponsor Erlanger Health System will be providing door prizes. Livestream Available at www.bessiesmithcc.org/bhm. Registration required (free) for in-person attendance.

5. Folk Art & Music Night Featuring a performance and talk by Dom Flemons, “The American Songster.”  A black folk-art exhibit from the Bessie Smith Cultural Center archives curated by UTC Student Koleby Gilbert will be on display.
• Date: Feb. 15
• Time: 6 p.m.
• Location: Bessie Smith Cultural Center
• Description: As a resolute preservationist, storyteller, and instrumentalist, Dom Flemons has long set himself apart by finding forgotten folk songs and making them live again. His work has been recognized with a GRAMMY Award, Two-Time EMMY Nominee, and 2020 U.S. Artists Fellow.  As a resolute preservationist, storyteller, and instrumentalist, Dom Flemons has long set himself apart by finding forgotten folk songs and making them live again. His work has been recognized with a GRAMMY Award, Two-Time EMMY Nominee, and 2020 U.S. Artists Fellow. Dom Flemons is originally from Phoenix, Arizona and currently lives in the Chicago area with his family. He has branded the moniker The American Songster® since his repertoire of music covers over 100 years of early American popular music. Flemons is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actor, slam poet, music scholar, historian, and record collector. He is considered an expert player on the banjo, guitar, harmonica, jug, percussion, quills, fife and rhythm bones. Flemons is the host of the American Songster Radio show on Nashville’s WSM Radio. In 2022, he was awarded a degree as a Doctor of Humane Letters from his alma mater Northern Arizona University. The Folk Art exhibit curated by UTC intern Koleby Gilbert will feature rarely seen art pieces from the BSCC archive and information about the importance of Folk Art in Chattanooga’s Black History. Livestream Available at www.bessiesmithcc.org/bhm. Registration required (free) for in-person attendance.

6. Black Imprisonment: A Screening of 13th Documentary and Community Discussion
• Date: Feb. 29
• Time: 6 p.m.
• Location: Bessie Smith Cultural Center
• Description: A documentary screening and community discussion will analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom. The film delves into the systemic injustices that have led to the disproportionate imprisonment of African Americans, exploring factors such as poverty, racism, and political policies. Registration required (free) for in-person attendance. 

"Join us at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center throughout February as we commemorate Black History Month with a series of events that reflect the spirit of unity, diversity and resilience," officials said. 

For more information, visit www.bessiesmithcc.org/bhm or call 423-266-8658. 

Registration required for attendance to all Black History Month programs (Community Day/Art Show excluded). Additional information at www.bessiesmithcc.org/bhm.
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