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James and Ethel Beck were influential Tennessee citizen's

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  • tlbaker
    February 25 James and Ethel Beck The lives of James Garfield Beck and Ethel Benson Beck from 1881 are celebrated on this date. They were African-American
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 25, 2007
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      February 25

      James and Ethel Beck

      The lives of James Garfield Beck
      and Ethel Benson Beck from 1881
      are celebrated on this date.

      They were African-American color

      educators and entrepreneurs.

      James Garfield Beck was born
      in 1881 and Ethel Benson
      Beck was born in 1896.

      He came to Knoxville in 1898 from Camden ,
      Alabama , to attend the Knoxville College
      Normal School , which he finished in 1902.
      He was graduated from Knoxville College in 1906.

      In college, Beck distinguished himself in several
      sports, and he was particularly good in baseball.

      After graduation, he taught at several
      schools, including Austin High in 1910.
      He also served as the first athletic
      director at Knoxville College .

      Mrs. Beck was a native of Morristown , Tennessee , and
      received her early training at Morristown College .

      It is possible that the Becks first met when he
      played baseball against the Morristown team.

      They were married in 1913, the same year he
      became the first African-American color postal clerk in
      Tennessee when the Knoxville Post Office hired him.

      They were two of the most glamorous
      and influential members of Knoxville's
      African-American color community
      during the 1920s, '30s, and '40s.

      Ethel and James Beck were in the
      forefront of African-American color
      civic, church, and social activities.

      They were extremely attractive,
      had money, and were athletic.

      Beck was an intellectual, while
      his wife had a business mind.
      Over the years, they collected
      a fortune in real estate.

      The Becks were involved in the establishment
      of the Knoxville Colored color Orphanage in 1919.
      That summer a popular subscription raised
      about $7,500 and property near Knoxville
      College was purchased for the project.
      After several months, Ethel Beck
      was elected to head the board.
      Within two years, she announced that
      she intended to build a first-class brick
      building to cost approximately $10,000.
      She made good on that promise,
      and by 1941 the name of the
      orphanage was changed to the
      Ethel Beck Home For Children.

      Being a sports enthusiast, she played in a national
      tennis meet in Bordentown , New Jersey , in 1928.

      She was the superintendent of the playground
      at the popular Cal Johnson Park for four years.

      James Beck was a life-long Republican, who
      served as a sergeant-at-arms at the 1940
      National Republican Convention.

      Also he was one of the chief organizers of
      the Knoxville Branch NAACP in 1919.

      He was a candidate for city council in 1951.

      Ethel Beck was president of the Tennessee
      State Congress of Colored color Parents and Teachers.

      The Beck Cultural Exchange Center in
      Knoxville is also named for the Becks.

      James died in 1969, one year later Ethel died.


       

       

       

       

       

       

       

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