Beyond History: Knoxville's Black Experience - Future
We're highlighting stories that played an integral role in the foundation and development of African Americans in East Tennessee.
Black History Month is a time for people to honor and focus attention on African Americans who made contributions and sacrifices that helped shape the nation.
East Tennessee has many stories of how African Americans made improvements within its region.
From a nonprofit building its community to celebrate and engage Black creativity to a high school hosting an event that honors Black History Month, there is so much history that is explored.
This is the journey through East Tennessee's Black history.
The Bottom is a nonprofit community center and Black-affirming bookshop that stands to build community, celebrate culture and engage the creativity of Black people in Knoxville.
Located in the heart of Knoxville's Black community, The Bottom offers workshops, creative meetups, a podcast studio and a book store among many other programs.
Executive Director Kalil White understands the importance of Black culture and hopes The Bottom can encourage the younger generation to embrace their creative side.
"Art is the way we view our world around us," she said. "It helps us look at the trauma that we experience, the joy that we experience and everything in between."
For the remainder of the month, The Bottom is holding events such as an art exhibit, Black History trivia and more.
For Black History Month, Austin-East Magnet High School offered students unique opportunities to take specialized art, theater and dance programs among others.
The school celebrated the month in a big way by bringing together those classes for an event to commemorate Black history.
"Seeing everything with dance and art and seeing everything come together and actually tell the stories... is a great experience for [people] to learn and also for us to learn something we might not have known before," said Sydney McAllister, a theater student.
Students in art researched and recreated native masks from different African countries, theater students told groundbreaking stories of African-Americans from Knoxville and the West African dance and drums groups brought their unique style and sound while also learning about their heritage.
Students involved in the event, are proud to be part of a program that will have an impact on not only the community but them as individuals.
"I love being a part of it because, everybody talks about [it] in the newspaper, on the news and I'm like, 'Yeah, I'm a part of that,'" said Shermija Whitehead, a dance student. "I have a big part of being [a] part of something that's going to live on forever."
Knoxville's Golden Gloves is a gym where up-and-coming fighters can work on their skills.
Trinity Prospers' passion for boxing came at a young age when she watched the sport from the stands.
"My brother actually started boxing. I had to sit in the front while he practiced," Prospers said. "I got tired of sitting there, so I thought I might as well start training too."
She is trained by veteran coach and John Tate cornerman Judge Hill. His methods of teaching his students involve making sure their life is on "the right track."
"[Hill] pushes you to make you be your best self. He helps us with other things outside of just boxing. We know that everything in life isn't going to be about boxing, so every conversation isn't about boxing," Prospers said.
Another fighter at the gym is 14-year-old Shannon Hollingsworth. He recently won the Tennessee Silver Gloves championship in his weight division.
Since his journey began, Hollingsworth also took lessons he's learned in the ring and applied them to his everyday life.
"Some things don't make me as mad as they usually would. I just keep calm and avoid the situation," Hollingsworth said.