From art and murals to music and historical sit-ins, Chattanooga is full of culture that commemorates Chattanooga’s Black History and the courageous individuals that left an imprint on the community and the world. The Bessie Smith Cultural Center — named after the “Empress of the Blues” — is in the heart of ML King Blvd formerly 9th street and the newly-remodeled museum touches on every aspect of the city’s African American history. While at the center, be sure to check out The Impressions’ marker as a part of TN Music Pathways. The impressions performed on the historic “Ninth street” in Chattanooga and eventually worldwide with their hit songs “It’s Alright to Have a Good Time” and “People Get Ready.”
Further into downtown, spend some time at Blue Goose Hollow where Bessie Smith grew up. Enjoy several murals near the Tennessee Riverwalk depicting Black History. Near the south end of the Walnut Street Bridge, visit the new reflective memorial that recognizes Ed Johnson and his brutal death by lynching. This new memorial honors the heroic and historic efforts of attorneys Noah Pardon and Styles Hutchins, and the African-American community that supported them. It also commemorates the landmark Supreme Court case that changed the course of American history and civil rights. The memorial is a welcoming contemplative space where people of all backgrounds and cultures can come to learn, reflect, mourn, and find inspiration.