What’s Right With Our Schools: Bessie Smith Center Reopens

CHATTANOOGA TN (WDEF) – Summer is in full swing, but that doesn’t mean learning has to take a vacation. The Bessie Smith Cultural Center is a great place to see and hear some of Chattanooga’s rich history.

Yusuf Hakeem is the Board Chair for the Museum.

He says, “What we have had the opportunity to do is to upgrade the Bessie to a point where we feel it is one of the best in the state if not in the nation. The use of digital technology and so forth. We brought on more partners. That has been very essential and I think as a result of that our progress is moving forward. And we feel it is going to continue to do so. Well the Bessie Smith cultural Center is an opportunity to share knowledge and understanding. And it’s my view that children, when they receive knowledge and understanding that is relatable to them and their history, their culture I think it encourages them to be the best they can be. To reach out for knowledge.”


Fanta Dolley is a 4th grader at Red Bank Elementary.

She says, “This helped me learn about long time ago how some Black people were treated unfairly. And it gives us history that like, it gives us history that we all need to know that has not been spread it a lot.”

J’zaria Irvin is a 6th grader at CSAS.

She says, “This helps me as a student learn because it tells me about my history and what went on back in like the, probably the 1800s. And it’s kind of good telling me what happened.”


Olivia Strickland is a 4th grader at Battle Academy.

She says, “This is really a beautiful place. To learn about history it’s just really beautiful. And I’m glad we get to be here today. And learning about all these amazing people.”

Daniel Grzesik is the Director of Leadership and Programs at UTC.

He concludes, “I think it just brings awareness. It brings images to light. It provides a full perspective and hopefully it doesn’t start here; to stop here I should say. You know it continues in school. It continues in community centers, after school locations, conversations, athletics right. So I think this is just a great place to start and hopefully bring more awareness to what made Chattanooga great and it’s history.”



Categories: Chattanooga, Education, Local News, What’s Right With Our Schools