Beck Cultural Exchange Center
The Beck Cultural Exchange Center works to preserve the history and culture of African Americans. It was founded in 1975 and is located in a restored 1912 mansion. Because of its significant collections and archives, Beck has been deemed Knoxville’s storehouse of regional African American history and culture. Its library features rare copies of books written by African American authors, while its displays pay tribute to important figures and events from the region. Beck also offers free admission, access to a computer lab, workshops, training sessions, and more.
Backstory and Context
The Beck Cultural Exchange Center’s extensive library includes books, photographs, newspapers, videos, audio recordings, and artwork that cover the roles of African Americans in everything from religion and civil rights to sports and entertainment. Most of the library’s content spans from the mid-1800s to the present. The William Hastie Collection, for example, includes some of the personal photographs, letters, and plaques belonging to the first black governor of the Virginian Islands, William Hastie. Beck’s main focus, however, is the African American culture and history of East Tennessee. As such, it boasts a number of local memorabilia. The Austin High School and Knoxville College Collections feature yearbooks, photographs, and bulletins. The Newspaper Collection archives some prints of the East Tennessee News, Flashlight Herald, and The Public Guide, all African American newspapers.
Garlington, Ethiel. Beck Cultural Exchange Center. National Geographic Tourism: Tennessee River Valley. Accessed January 21, 2019. https://www.tennesseerivervalleygeotourism.org/content/beck-cultural-exchange-center/ten25016a18c12ba4776.