Chattanooga, TN

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Chattanooga Black History

A small city in the hills of the Appalachian Mountains that can be overshadowed by Memphis or Nashville, the story of the Chattanooga black history and of the urban communities explains that there is no difference between Chattanooga and any other Tennessee city.

The city currently has a population of over 173,000 and only 35% making up the Chattanooga black population, while Hamilton County has a poverty rate of 15% that is mostly on the South and East sides.

chattanooga black history

The story of the Chattanooga black history includes the days of the city thriving and the community growing during the mid-1900s to the days where the Klu Klux Klan would protest and even attack the community due the hatred they had for the Chattanooga black population.

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In the beginning, many African-Americans were limited to only visiting and living in a few places of the city.

Places like 9th Street (now MLK) and a few of other areas during the days of segregation. Some of the African-American communities were in the location of areas that consisted of bad living conditions and were often isolated from the main parts of the city.

Generations later, some of Chattanooga’s most known neighborhoods of the city were its housing projects, with the first being College Court, East Lake, and Boone Heights, all built either before, after, or during the 1950s.

chattanooga ghetto

Harriet Tubman Homes aka Boone Heights

Boone Heights started out as an all-white complex named Boone-Hysinger, until blacks were allowed to move in the community and eventually changing the name to the Harriet Tubman Homes as the surrounding area of the East Side was becoming predominantly black.

Boone Heights would later be sold back to the city and closed by the 2010s. Similar to Boone Heights were other housing projects like the Poss Homes off S. Market and McCallie Homes of Alton Park (see below) that were either demolish or rebuilt.

chattanooga black history

When the industries and factories closed, many people moved out of the city into the suburbs of Chattanooga.

Today, the same group of people that left the city are now returning, with gentrification on the East Side, in parts of Highland Park, the South Side, and around the Downtown area, people from places like Lookout Mountain are slowly moving back into the city, turning a new chapter in the Chattanooga black history story.

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*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research.  Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.


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