Featuring the history of African Americans in Knoxville and East Tennessee from the late 1800s to the present through photographs, newspapers, biographies, audio and video recordings, books, and artwork. Exhibits include the William Hastie Collection who became the first Black Governor of the Virgin Islands (1946) and the first Black Federal Judge in the United States (1950). This collection features scares of personal and official photographs. scrapbooks, honorary degrees, letters, plaques, scrolls, and other memorabilia.
The Austin High School Collection chronicles the activities and the leaders of the school since its founding in 1879. It contains graduation programs from the first class in 1888 (Knoxville Colored High) to the current Austin East graduation. Class pictures date back to 1894. The published year- books from the first one in 1924 are in the collection. There are hundreds of faculty and student photographs.
The Knoxville College Collection depicts many of the activities and individuals of the college since its founding in 1875. This collection has many of the early yearbooks (KNOXUNIOR), newspapers (THE AURORN) bulletins (inaugurations, anniversaries, etc), photographs and more.
Finally the Newspaper Collection contains issues of African American newspapers. including issues of the East Tennessee News which was published from 1909-1919. There are also issues of the Flashlight Herald, The Public Guide, The Independent Call and a number of others. The Center recently received the collection of the Vine Jr. Flash from the estate of Principal Leonard A Jackson. The oldest in the newspaper collection is The Knoxville Bulletin, which was published February 25, 1882.
There is also a Library and Resource Center that contains more than two thousand books. Over eighty of these books were written by native Knoxvillians. There are more than100 biographies in print from Muhammad Ali to Whitney Young. In Addition, there are filmed biographies of Josephine Baker, Mahalia Jackson, Jack Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackie Robinson, and others. There are more than 300 videos, including dozens of classic African American films of the 1930’s and 1940’s as well as contemporary African American performers. The topics covered in print and film include African Americans in the military, religion, civil rights and sports are thousands of photos depicting the evolution of homes, businesses and people of East Tennessee from the mid 1800s to present day.