By Vivian Shipe
KNOXVILLE, TN — Whether you enter from the front or back entrance, the atmosphere is immediately inviting. Sounds stream down the hall from the record player crooning sounds as only a needle on vinyl can. The hallway features the art work of different local Black artist; this week is George Habib .
Stepping around the corner you enter The Tea Room which offers a space to sit, chat, sip tea and coffee with blends named after the streets the business honors. There is a room for training and doing podcasts, and up the stairway lies a room for sewing and quilting, machines lined up inviting those who would learn to craft with their hands a quiet space to do so. There is even a space for meetings and a reading and study space.
The front of the house has books. Oh so many wonderful books by Black authors. there is a play nook for children and the selection of children’s books for kids of color has no rival in Knoxville. To encourage reading, the owner also gives free books to the children who come into the center. Books line the walls of every room and in the corner, the sun room invites you to sit and stay a spell. Welcome to The Bottom.
Located at 2340 E Magnolia , the community space is owned by Black Female businesswoman , Enkeshi El-Amin. The business is named after one of many communities destroyed by urban removal. The Bottom was once a series of streets where many businesses black and white flourished and where over 100 generational homes once set – before the destruction.in the 50s and 60s. Many famous African Americans from Knoxville were raised in and around the bottom, among them, the great poet, Nikki Giovanni and noted historian Bob Booker.
Seeking to honor the memory of a space destroyed by the ravages of the 50s of urban “removal” where the black people of Knoxville once gathered, lived and thrived – El-Amin has created a place that proudly celebrates the African American culture and promotes fellowship and togetherness.
There is a subscriber opportunity and more information can be found at www THE BOTTOM KNOX.com
The office number is 865-444-5915.