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Bessie Prepares for the Future

January 13, 2021

The team at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center will not be singing the blues much longer thanks to businesses like TVFCU. The museum that tells the story of the rich black history in Chattanooga is going through a huge transformation. The displays that enable visitors to walk the path from slavery to civil rights and into the 21st century are getting a new look.

A Community Jewel

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this jewel of a museum has been closed on Martin Luther King Boulevard since March 2020. During the shutdown, construction continues on the first phase of the transformation project, which will include everything from a children’s education area to interactive virtual kiosks.  Using the new kiosks, visitors will be able to learn about the life of Bessie Smith and listen to the musical accomplishments of this famous Chattanoogan, who is better known throughout the world as the “Empress of the Blues.” Guests will also be encouraged to use up to date touchscreen technology as they walk from exhibit to exhibit. When completed, this $300,000 transformation will also enable younger visitors to witness firsthand what past generations experienced to bring awareness and demand change on important social issues like segregation.

TVFCU Supports Innovative Use of Technology

With a rich history of its own and deep roots in the Tennessee Valley, TVFCU is proud to join other businesses in supporting this project. Todd Fortner, President and CEO of TVFCU, says, “As a credit union focused on innovation, we are especially excited about the interactive video technology that is going to be utilized.” Phase two of the project will focus on renovations to other areas of the building that will put the spotlight on well-known entertainers from the Scenic City like Samuel L. Jackson and The Impressions. Their inspirational anthems for the civil rights movement earned The Impressions a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Moving Forward

The museum honors the many historical achievements of Chattanooga’s black community, which continues to strive for a better quality of life for everyone. With these improvements, The Bessie Smith Cultural Center will be an invaluable teaching tool for young people as it better prepares them to live and work together in a very diverse world.

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