KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A professor has created a space for Knoxville’s Black community to make connections, foster their creativity, and find their place in a larger community.
As a sociologist, Enkeshi El-Amin has researched and studied the Black experience in America, and more specifically, the Black experience in Knoxville. Through her research, she says she has found that there is a common feeling of being out of place; a feeling she says she has experienced herself.
“Something that I know very well is the feeling of being out of place. From work to home, church, wherever you are, you’re often the only black face in the room or one of very few,” El-Amin said.
So, she created The Bottom: a community space where Black art, music and culture is celebrated.
The name comes from a Black neighborhood that stood adjacent to the building. It was destroyed by Urban Renewal in the 1950s.
“This was a neighborhood but it was also the nerve center for Black business in Knoxville. So it was a very significant place,” El-Amin said.
Now El-Amin is reclaiming the space for her community. It will also serve as a bookstore specializing in Black literature, a community podcast studio, and the main location for the Sew it Sell it program.
“I want people to feel like this is a hub for them to be plugged in. I want people to feel safe and to feel welcome and to feel part of a larger community here,” El-Amin said.
The Bottom is located at 202 Randolph St. in Knoxville. It’s not officially open to the public yet, but El-Amin hopes to have a grand opening when public gatherings are safe again.
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