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Black History Month: New Mural at Beck Cultural Exchange Center Promotes Local Heritage 
Beck Mural
New mural at Beck Cultural Exchange Center

“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.”
This is one of the most famous quotes by American author Alex Haley whose 13-foot statue gazes over Knoxville’s Alex Haley Heritage Square in Morningside Park.

Haley published his book, “Roots,” in 1976, which explored the African-American’s (as well as all Americans) right and necessity to understand his or her heritage.

Just across the street, the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, a non-profit museum that preserves African-American history of the region, recently unveiled an art piece that celebrates the roots and lineage of local African-Americans.

"At Beck, we are dedicated to the rich legacy of great people, places, and artifacts that make up this beautiful region of our country,” said Renee Kesler, President of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center.

Beck Cultural Exchange Center
Beck Cultural Exchange Center

“This art piece is an example of our generational roots and our continuing family heritage, including photos of local families involved in the entire community.”

Local artist Alan Jones was hired to create the piece, titling it “Tree of Life’s Harmonies Triptych.” The mural depicts a tree with photographs included of local ancestors in the roots. An African-American woman is positioned with the tree trunk, her feet in the roots and her hands held up to the branches that display photos of African-Americans who live in the community today.

“The tree represents the rhythmic cycles of life’s generational successions,” said Jones of his work.

Wind chimes are included to add another dimension to the piece, which is permanently installed over the entrance to the Beck Cultural Exchange Center and faces the Alex Haley statue across Dandridge Avenue.

“Our heritage is a big part of who we are, and at Beck, we strongly encourage anyone who isn’t familiar with their genealogy to get started on it today,” said Kesler.

Because of lack of documentation prior to emancipation, it can be challenging for African-Americans to get started on genealogy.

Here’s a start with some local resource tools:




Posted by On 27 February, 2018 at 4:16 PM