Professional Organizations

Beck, Green, Porter, and Others
Beck, Green, Porter and Others, Carnegie Library, Knoxville, 1910s. Photograph by Boyd Browder Beck Cultural Exchange Center. Full Record.

Denied the opportunity to join white professional organizations, African Americans across the nation created their own organizations, and Tennesseans played a prominent role in many of them.  Knoxville’s Henry Morgan Green, M.D. was one of the early leaders of the National Medical Association for African American physicians.  There were also local medical associations, such as the Bluff City Medical and Dental Association of Memphis.  The National Negro Business League, started by Booker T. Washington in 1900, was especially popular in Nashville.  In 1917, the group held their Eighteenth Annual Session in Chattanooga with James C. Napier as the president of the organization.  Teachers in communities across the state formed Colored Teachers Associations, and these groups later fought for wage equity between white and African American teachers. Nashville’s McKissack and McKissack Architects was involved with the National Technical Association, a group formed in 1925 in Chicago for minorities in the fields of engineering and technology.  By 1910, G.W. Franklin of Chattanooga had been elected president of the National Negro Funeral Directors Association on three separate occasions.  Tennesseans were also involved with the National Negro Press Association, with Henry Allen Boyd of the Nashville Globe serving as Corresponding Secretary.  Other professional organizations included the National Negro Bankers Association, the National Negro Bar Association, the National Association of Negro Insurance Men, the National Negro Retail Merchants’ Association, and the National Association of Negro Real Estate Dealers.



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