“The Negro only wanted an opportunity to be a man and then he would manifest his ability to accomplish great things.” – W.E.B. DuBois speaking at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Knoxville, July 23, 1914.
KNOXVILLE, TN (June 5, 2020) – Renee Kesler, Director of Beck Cultural Exchange Center, 1927 Dandridge Ave. issued a statement over concerns of the current racial climate, and as a reminder that the actions of today, is tomorrow’s recorded history.
“As a keeper of history, we are appalled, saddened and deeply troubled by the merciless, inhumane, and cruel murder of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement.
The lost opportunities of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Dreasjon “Sean” Reed and all of the known and unknown victims of an unjust system, are more than just names recorded in the books of African-American History.
Their names are, unfortunately, recorded in African American history along with the names of 400-years of their enslaved ancestors. A confirmation that history, without effective change, will continue to repeat itself.
In 1864, during the Civil War, Sergeant Morgan W. Carter who was a member of the 28th Indiana U.S. Colored Troops pinned a letter that read: “And now we have a choice to elevate our selfs [sic] and our race and what little I can do toward it I will do so most willingly. If I should die before I receive the benefit of it, I will have the consolation of nowing [sic] that the generations to come will receive the blessing of it. And I think it the duty of all the men of our race to do what they can.”
Today, we are still wrestling with freedom in every area of black people’s lives. History is a truth-teller, and the truth is what will set us free; the oppressed and the oppressor.
Without establishments such as the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, today’s history will not exist tomorrow. We are all in dire need of lessons of truth.
Through these difficult times, Beck remains the keeper of past and present historical truths.
Visit Beck Cultural Exchange Center at 1927 Dandridge Avenue in Knoxville. Admission is free and open to the public from 10am-6pm, Tuesday – Saturday. During the COVID-19 crisis, please check for hours of operation; call 865.524.8461; website www.BeckCenter.net; Email, BeckCenter@BeckCenter.net.
About Beck Cultural Exchange Center:
Beck is the storehouse of African American history and culture and is a state-designated primary repository of black history and culture in East Tennessee. The Beck is named for and was the home of James Garfield (1881-1969) and Ethel Benson (1897-1970) Beck, who were two of the most glamorous and influential members of Knoxville’s black community during the 1920s-1960s.