Chattanooga Coca-Cola Supports Local Museum Re-Opening

Chattanooga Coca-Cola Key Account Developer Avery Smith, left, and Coca-Coca UNITED Tennessee Valley Division Director Darren Hodges are pictured standing at the new “Coke’s Corner” exhibit at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center.

Chattanooga Coca-Cola is a proud partner in the re-opening of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center (BSCC), formerly the Chattanooga African American Museum. After being closed 15 months due to COVID-19, the BSCC unveiled new technology and exhibits to better tell the story of African Americans in Chattanooga throughout history.

Among the new exhibits is “Coke’s Corner,” which features an old bottler capper donated by Chattanooga Coca-Cola. The exhibit also features a Coke counter and above it a photo of the Woolworth lunch counter sit-in demonstration led by Howard High School students in Chattanooga in February 1960.

Chattanooga Coca-Cola presented a $25,000 check to the Bessie Smith Cultural Center during a presentation in January 2021.

In addition, Chattanooga Coca-Cola made a monetary contribution of $25,000 to the BSCC. “While we’ve been a partner with the Center for many years, when we were approached around a year ago to help with this project, we were proud to be asked,” said Darren Hodges, director of Coca-Cola UNITED’s Tennessee Valley Division, during the BSCC’s ribbon cutting ceremony on June 25. “While cash always speaks, one of our goals in Chattanooga is to partner with our customers and communities.”

Avery Smith, Chattanooga Coca-Cola key account developer and member of the BSCC Board of Directors, played a key role in leading the partnership, as well as Andy Kidd, Chattanooga Coca- Cola print shop manager, who offered his graphic design talents for the BSCC’s new window displays. As a token of appreciation, Kidd was surprised with a gift for his work by BSCC President Paula Wilkes.

For more information about the BSCC, click here.