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Celebrating Black History Month


Join us in celebrating Black History Month by learning about some local community partners who serve and empower the Black community all year long!


Knoxville Area Urban League

Founded in 1968, the Knoxville Area Urban League (KAUL) seeks to promote equal employment opportunities for African Americans. An affiliate of the National Urban League, the Knoxville chapter was established during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement, with the goal of helping local Black community members find equitable job prospects.

Today, KAUL enables African Americans, other minority groups, and the underserved to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power, and civil rights through a variety of different services, including unique programs, classes, and events. To learn more about the Knoxville Area Urban League, visit their website.

Volunteers have helped support this non-profit, non-partisan, interracial community-based organization in several different ways, specifically by working events, mentoring youth, and providing general office support. If interested in serving, fill out a volunteer application today!

YWCA

As one of the oldest volunteer organizations in East Tennessee, the YWCA seeks to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Officially founded in 1899, the YWCA has a rich involvement in both the Civil Rights and Women’s Empowerment Movement, as they built numerous facilities designed to support diverse female populations.

Currently, the YWCA seeks to support women and their families by providing affordable housing, youth programs, education, and other resources as needed. With three locations in downtown Knoxville, East Knoxville, and Oak Ridge, the YWCA serves over 11,300 women, family and children.

The YWCA is always looking for volunteers! One of their current projects involves creating a walking path at the Phyllis Wheatley Center. Additionally, other opportunities to serve with the YWCA can be found here. Contact Marina Taylor at mtaylor@ywcaknox.com with any questions!

BECK Cultural Exchange Center

The Beck Cultural Exchange Center (Beck) serves as a place where African American history and culture is preserved, nurtured, taught, and continued. Named in honor of James and Ethel Beck, this non-profit organization was established in 1975 as a result of several Knoxville Urban Renewal projects. These projects led to the displacement and relocation of local black individuals and businesses, practically erasing them from Knoxville’s history.

The Beck Cultural Exchange Center serves as a storehouse and repository for the reclaimed African American history and culture of East Tennessee. Within the museums and corridors, individuals can discover and explore the vibrant legacy of African Americans of Knoxville. To learn more about the Beck Cultural Exchange, please visit their website.

Volunteers have helped support Beck in a variety of ways. Within the organization, volunteers can provide clerical support, tours, lawn care, aid with events, and more! Fill out a volunteer form here.

Knoxville ReAnimation Coalition

Knoxville ReAnimation Coalition is an organization focused on educating and creating social wealth among Knoxville’s African-American communities through projects that illuminate and honor their past achievements.

One of Knoxville ReAnimation’s Coalition’s main projects includes the restoration and preservation of Odd Fellows Cemetery, an African-American burial ground that dates back to the 1880s. Located at 2001 Bethel Avenue, this cemetery contains more than 6,000 graves of some of Knoxville’s early black residents.

This community-oriented reclamation project aims to preserve the cemetery’s history and create a reclaimed public space by engaging volunteers in the restoration process. Over 1,500 community and student volunteers, led by UT’s faculty Katherine Ambroziak, have helped make this initiative possible. To learn more about this project, visit their website. To volunteer, contact Katherine Ambroziak at aambrozi@utk.edu.

 

Citations:

Home – The Knoxville Area Urban League (thekaul.org)

Odd Fellows Cemetery – UTK College of Architecture + Design

Blog: City Blog (knoxvilletn.gov)

Home (beckcenter.net)