Bessie Smith Cultural Center of Chattanooga

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The Threads That Bind

September 4th, 2014 by bsccadmin

“The threads that Bind” is an exhibit made up of extraordinary quilts from local quilters.  These quilts represent a cross section of the diverse types of quilts made in the Chattanooga area.  They are all from local quilters.  This group of ten quilts includes traditional pieced quilts, a crazy quilt, a Gee’s Bend interpretation, a self portrait piece, African-American story/symbolism pieces, raw edge applique and modern pieces.  These quilts were made for different purposes – coverings, wall hangings and for family members as personal mementos.

Quilters featured in this exhibit are:

Zaneta Attle

Vanessa King

Linda Smith

Delia Price

Fran Randolph

On display through December 5, 2014 in the Vilma Fields Atrium. This exhibition was developed by the Bessie Smith Cultural Center and is curated by Karen Downer, quilt historian and educator.

Pictured: My Grandparent’s Wedding by Zaneta Attle


Textile: The Work of the Zuri Quilting Guild

August 13th, 2014 by bsccadmin

Quilting has been part of the American landscape for centuries, but each culture has taken the art form and made it its own.Color and textile and resourcefulness are very key to quilters in general, but was particularly important to those women who were enslaved Africans. These quilters would bleach flour sacks, use scraps of their mistress’ clothes, their children’s clothes, or the actual textiles that they worked.

The Zuri Quilting Guild is a Middle Tennessee-based group of African-American quilters co-founded by Judi Wortham-Sauls and Dr. Renita J. Weems. The Zuri quilters (“Zuri” means “beautiful” in Swahili) incorporate traditional African textiles and African-American quilting styles to create work that is amazing.

The members of the guild use various techniques, some traditional while others use bold colors and unique designs. The guild describes themselves as a group of black Women “Piecing Together Our Past While Keeping Ourselves in Stitches”. We are excited to feature this exhibition in conjunction with the AQS Quilt Week in Chattanooga, TN.

This exhibition will be on display through December 5, 2014

Take Our Survey for 2014 Strut Attendees

June 26th, 2014 by bsccadmin


IF YOU ATTENDED THIS YEAR’S BESSIE SMITH STRUT, we’d like to know what you thought of the experience by taking part in an important survey to help us in our efforts to make the Strut even more entertaining and enjoyable.

It’s an easy-to-answer, confidential survey.
Please take a few minutes to complete it now.

Take the Survey Now

Your input would be VERY HELPFUL to us as we:

  1. Attempt to learn about your experiences at the The Bessie Smith Strut in order to make The Bessie Smith Strut even more entertaining and enjoyable in the future.
  2. Quantify, for prospective sponsors, the makeup of the The Bessie Smith Strut audience, and the impact The Bessie Smith Strut attendees have on the local economy; and
  3. Gather required data for granting organizations from which the The Bessie Smith Cultural Center has received vital funding.


Take the survey by clicking here or copy and paste the following link:

Thank you for your participation in our survey and for your support of the 2014 Bessie Smith Strut.

Rose Martin,



Bessie Smith Strut

April 16th, 2014 by bsccadmin

The Bessie Smith Strut will be held on Monday, June 9th with gates opening at 4:30 pm. Talent includes Nikki Hill, Andy Allo, Big James and the Chicago Playboys, Rusty Wright Band, Boukou Groove and headlining will be Grammy nominated blues legend Bobby Rush.

Important things to know about this year’s Strut:

Everyone will be issued an armband prior to entering the site.  Photo ID must be shown for anyone 21 and older.  All children 17 and under are required to be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or responsible adult.  NOTE:  Bobby Rush performance will contain mature adult content not suitable for children.

How much are the tickets?

Tickets purchased are $7 (through June 6) and will increase to $10 after June 6.  Riverbend bands holders may purchase tickets for $7 in advance or at the gate.

Where can tickets be purchased?

Tickets may be purchased at one of the following ticket outlets:

Area Kangaroo Gas Stations

Bessie Smith Cultural Center

200 E. Martin Luther King Blvd.


526 E. Martin Luther King Blvd.

Maggie G’s

400 E Martin Luther King Blvd.


JJ’s Bohemia

231 E Martin Luther King Blvd.


Roshanna’s Hair & Beauty Bar

320 E Martin Luther King Blvd.

Chatt Smokehouse

416 E Martin Luther King Blvd

Advanced $7 Tickets may also be purchased online through Friday, June 6th at  Please note that there is a $1.38 processing fee charged to each online ticket.

Bathroom passes for the Bessie Smith Cultural Center will be available for purchase at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center after gates open.

Where are the entrance gates to the Strut?

While the Strut will be enclosed with fencing this year, there will be three entrances that will provide easy and direct access to the street fest.

Martin Luther King & Lindsay

King Street & 10th Street

Martin Luther King & Peeples

What items are acceptable to bring to the Strut?

Strut goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs (not the folding type), cameras, and special needs assistive devices to the Strut.

However, the following items are prohibited:

  • Coolers
  • Food or Beverages
  • Glass containers
  • Framed or large backpacks
  • Folding chairs
  • Carts
  • Fireworks or explosives
  • Pets
  • Skateboards, scooters, personal motorized vehicles or bicycles
  • Video/Audio equipment: No video or audio recording will be allowed
  • Metal aerosol containers, including sunscreen
  • Weapons of any kind or firearms
  • Illegal substances (including narcotics or drug paraphernalia
  • Unauthorized solicitations, handbills, sampling, giveaways, etc.
  • No illegal vending is permitted. No unauthorized/unlicensed vendors allowed

Strut goers and their belongings are subject to search upon entry and re-entry of the Bessie Smith Strut.


The Bessie Cultural Center  (Bessie Smith Strut) appreciates the support of


Anonymous Donor

The Benwood Foundation

The Lyndhurst Foundation


Special Thanks to:

Brewer Media

The City of Chattanooga

Friends of the Festival

Republic Parking

Communications and Electronics

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Volunteers for 2014 Strut

Bright Ideas: African American Inventors

February 27th, 2014 by bsccadmin
The Bessie Smith Cultural Center is pleased to present “Bright Ideas: African American Inventors” in the museum galleries March 10 – June 14, 2014. Curated by John Edwards of the Mary Walker Foundation, “Bright Ideas: African American Inventors” is an exhibition that aims to highlight the contributions of African American inventors and enlighten and empower others, through knowledge and understanding of these inventors and their extraordinary accomplishments. The exhibit, made up of both panels and artifacts, features inventions that are part of everyday American life from Garret A. Morgan’s traffic light to Alfred C. Black’s ice cream scooper to the infamous super-soaker patented by Lonnie Johnson. The exhibition will showcase the offerings that African Americans have made to inventions that have contributed to the fields of aerospace, health care, communication, science, engineering, agriculture and transportation.
Here are some on-line resources about Black Inventors:
***Extended through August 30, 2014***

Museum Hours

Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, Noon to 4 p.m.
Sunday, Closed

Admission Information