Preserving Chattanooga’s African American culture past and present

This story, authored by Chuck Wasserstrom, originally appeared as a UTC News Release.

A collaboration involving the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Department of History and RISE Chattanooga, a community-based nonprofit organization, aims to preserve past and present African American culture in the Chattanooga area.

The partnership with RISE, which stands for Responsive Initiatives for Social Empowerment, will combine the history department’s mission and RISE’s pillar of cultural preservation to gather and share the stories of the Chattanooga neighborhoods. Initial plans for the partnership include a revamped walking-tour series, a spring speaker series and continuing research on Chattanooga’s historic neighborhoods and churches.

“The faculty, students and staff of the UTC Department of History are thrilled to formalize and expand our collaboration with RISE Chattanooga, a vibrant community partner with shared values and goals,” said Michael Thompson, department head and UC Foundation associate professor.  “This community partnership with RISE is a major history department initiative that has been months in the making.

“Through the mutually beneficial lending of resources, opportunities and expertise, this agreement promises to benefit all members of the UTC and Chattanooga communities and foster a greater appreciation for our city’s rich artistic legacies and Black history.”

RISE Chattanooga, an independent minority-led organization focused on community education, performance, and arts and cultural preservation, was initially created in 2011 as Jazzanooga—a day-long festival honoring Jazz History Month. RISE serves thousands of individuals annually.

“RISE has always prioritized the voices and the needs of our neighbors as we seek to preserve the rich culture of Chattanooga,” said Woodson Carpenter, RISE’s community arts strategist. “We are excited to have the scholarly expertise of the UTC history department come alongside us as we continue to listen to and tell the stories of Chattanooga.”

For further information about RISE Chattanooga, please visit risecha.org.

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