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Museum of East Tennessee History reopens

KNOXVILLE – “ETHS staff and board are very pleased to announce that the Museum of East Tennessee History is officially re-opened as of Saturday, August 1, 2020, which makes the East Tennessee History Center fully re-opened to the public,” said Executive Director Cherel Henderson. “The Museum and all public programming at the History Center has been closed since March 23, 2020, as ETHS worked to do our part in helping keep our community as safe as possible from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

The East Tennessee Historical Society (ETHS) desires all to stay healthy and with our re-opening we continue to work to help curb the spread of the highly contagious disease that is COVID-19. ETHS is following the guidelines within the Tennessee Pledge and has modified the Museum of East Tennessee History’s visitor experience. Museum staff asks that all museum visitors support our community’s health by observing these guidelines:

• Wear a mask or cloth face covering at all times (masks are available on site)
• Make regular use of the hand sanitizing stations located throughout the building
• Stay at least six feet away from anyone not in your household
• Follow one-way path markers
• Stay at home if you are sick

The Museum will close one hour early each day for enhanced cleaning. The hours, which are updated on our website are Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Certain Museum features have also been modified to increase visitor safety. Examples are interactive exhibitions have been turned off, and seating has been removed to provide additional room for physical distancing. The newly completed Children & Family gallery, History Headquarters, originally scheduled to open April 3,2020 has now been postponed to mid-October in order to adapt visitor protocols for the gallery’s highly interactive activity stations.

ETHS staff are welcoming visitors to the Museum of East Tennessee History and to share its newest exhibit, Black & White., Knoxville in the Jim Crow Era. The exhibit features the stories of African American artists Beauford Delaney, Joseph Delaney, and Ruth Cobb Brice, with contributions by guest historian Robert J. Booker. The exhibition, which opened February 20, 2020, right before the Museum closed, and has now been extended to provide visitors’ access to this important part of East Tennessee’s past.

Public programming i.e. Brown Bag lunches, guest speakers, genealogy classes, that are held on site have not resumed yet due to the limit on group size and social distancing. However, over the last several months ETHS staff have pivoted to developing virtual programs. We are holding live visits via Zoom and Facebook Live to tour historic sites around the region on every other Thursday. The next virtual tour is scheduled for Thursday, August 6 at 1 p.m. and will be visiting The McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School in Jonesborough, TN.

To stay informed of further plans and to access information and resources about “all things history” ETHS members, patrons, and friends may visit and on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Published August 2, 2020

history of jim crow
American Nightmare - The History of Jim Crow

For a hundred years after the end of the Civil War, a quarter of all Americans lived under a system of legalized segregation called Jim Crow. Together with its rigidly enforced canon of racial "etiquette," these rules governed nearly every aspect of life―and outlined draconian punishments for infractions.

The purpose of Jim Crow was to keep African Americans subjugated at a level as close as possible to their former slave status. Exceeding even South Africa's notorious apartheid in the humiliation, degradation, and suffering it brought, Jim Crow left scars on the American psyche that are still felt today. American Nightmare examines and explains Jim Crow from its beginnings to its end: how it came into being, how it was lived, how it was justified, and how, at long last, it was overcome only a few short decades ago. Most importantly, this book reveals how a nation founded on principles of equality and freedom came to enact as law a pervasive system of inequality and virtual slavery.

Remembering Jim Crow - African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South

Based on interviews collected by the Behind the Veil Project at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, this remarkable book presents for the first time the most extensive oral history ever compiled of African American life under segregation. Men and women from all walks of life tell how their most ordinary activities were subjected to profound and unrelenting racial oppression. Yet Remembering Jim Crow is also a testament to how black southerners fought back against systemic racism―building churches and schools, raising children, running businesses, and struggling for respect in a society that denied them the most basic rights. The result is a powerful story of individual and community survival.

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