Upon completing my doctoral studies at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2019, I founded The Bottom. The Bottom was named after the Black neighborhood in East Knoxville that was demolished in the 1950s by urban renewal and institutionalized racism. Rooted in community interviews and archival research, my dissertation uncovered a resounding feeling of displacement and loss of space amongst Knoxville’s Black elders and youth. I wanted to do more than just conduct a study, I wanted to make an impact, and thus the idea of The Bottom began to form.
My efforts were joined by those of other Black women in Knoxville who also sought to do meaningful work. Today, The Bottom stands as a collective working to reclaim and reimagine Black space in Knoxville. What initially started with a youth sewing and entrepreneurial program in 2019, has grown into a hub of Black culture and togetherness. With the support of our community, our center has grown to include a tea room, podcast studio, expanded sewing studio, and Black empowerment bookstore. With the belief that Blackness is neither essentialist nor static, but relational, dynamic and changeable, The Bottom stands as a multi-use place to foster change and provide comfort. The Bottom is the place to get plugged into the local Black community, whether you're local or new to town.