Beck Cultural Exchange Center

Last item for navigation
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email
Learn more at

The Beck Cultural Exchange Center is a historic community treasure dedicated to collecting, preserving, and exhibiting artifacts and other evidence of contributions relating to the history and culture of African-Americans in East Tennessee and America, while creating educational experiences that promote wisdom for present and future generations.

Remembering Knoxville's Pioneering Black Baseball Players

Rev. Renee Kesler shares information about the Negro League in baseball and Knoxville's team called the Knoxville Giants. The Giants ballplayers of the 1920s and '30s were memorable. With a new multi-use stadium coming to "The Bottom," history lovers say it's a great opportunity to share their stories and the experiences of other Knoxville African-Americans.

Beck Cultural Exchange Center
Learn about the significance of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center from Rev. Renee Kesler.

Listen to Rev. Renee Kesler, Beck Cultural Exchange Center, Discuss the MLK Legacy

History of Knoxville Urban Renewal with the Willow St. Project (The Bottom)

Video from the Beck Cultural Center describing Urban Renewal in Knoxville. The video focuses on the Willow Street Project (The Bottom) and the site of the newly proposed stadium for the Smokies baseball team.

City Council Passes Resolution Asking to Exonerate Maurice Franklin Mays

Maurice MaysMaurice Mays was executed in 1922 at the Nashville State Penitentiary for killing a white woman in Knoxville, however, experts and court documents show there was no evidence that he had committed the crime. 

101 years later, Knoxville City Council recognized that injustice by unanimously passing a resolution asking Governor Bill Lee to exonerate Mays.

The resolution passed unanimously and all Council members wanted their names as a co-sponsor of the resolution.
Read More  |  Watch WBIR Video

New Mural at Beck Cultural Exchange Center Promotes Local Heritage

Mural at Beck 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.
Read More

Learn Your Heritage, Utilizing Geneaology Tools

“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:,_Tennessee_Genealogy