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The Bottom partnered with the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s Division of Diversity and Engagement to offer a short term community fellowship.


We believe that the work of scholars and other professional staff can enrich civic and community life, and by pursuing such work in dialogue with the public, university research, teaching, and creative expression is elevated. In a semester-long fellowship, Black faculty/staff will serve as a resource and collaborator on a public facing, community identified or agreed upon project. The fellow will work directly with The Bottom’s team to develop a project moving it from ideation to completion. 

The projects produced by this program will aim to document and/or advance the local Black community. The final project could include recurring programming, public forums, advocacy campaigns, workshops, events, publications or public exhibitions among others. This fellowship is especially designed for Black junior faculty (non-tenure and tenure track) and professional staff who might benefit from deliberate connections and invested liaisons with the multifaceted local Black community. Each semester one fellow will be chosen.

community fellowship
for ut faculty & staff

Meet Our Spring 2021

Fellow,  Dr. El-Ra Radney

Our spring 2021 fellow, El-Ra Adair Radney, Ph.D., is a lecturer in the Africana Studies Program at UTK. His training and doctoral degree is in African American and African Studies (AAAS) and his specialized niche includes four main topics of intersection: Black Political Theory, Cultural Studies, Urban Study and Africana Philosophy. 

Dr. Radney's passion is to teach and use Africana Studies as a way to empower and encourage students and the world alike to foster positive development in the interests of the African Diaspora.  He currently teaches the AFST 202 and 236 courses. As a native of Detroit, his work focuses on Detroit's long history of Pan African cultural agency and the African World Festival tradition. Dr. Radney's forthcoming book will focus on his dissertation research and is tentatively titled:  Black Redemption in the Pan African Metropolis of Detroit.

Dr. Radney's work on Black redemption in the ‘Black Metropolis’ looks at the role of Pan African cultural history
and agency on Black communities, dating back to the footprint of Marcus Garvey. His work asserts that Pan African affiliation is both a core value and a major positive influence on Black placemaking and definitive to
Black resistance-social movements as well as the construction of a psychologically healing Black identity.

Dr. Radney received his B.A. in African American/Africana Studies from Wayne State University, his MBA from Davenport University, and his Ph.D. in African American & African Studies from Michigan State University.

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Spring 2021 Project:


Our first fellowship project, led by Dr. Radney, comprises the excavation of local Black Knoxville newspapers. Titled 

Knoxville's Black Press & The ‘Afro-American Crusade’, this project seeks to uncover and reconstruct an important window into Knoxville’s Black society (circa, 1900s - 1950s) through the lens of Black redemption narratives that measure the vitality of Knoxville’s Black Metropolis.


In post reconstruction Jim Crow America, The Black press gave African-Americans the news through the lens of their own eyes. African-American newspapers provided crucial information to Black people seeking employment, housing, and places to shop that would not discriminate against them. These newspapers fostered and facilitated several strategies of Black agency to change the racial status quo of the country. In addition to being a crusader for African-American freedoms, the press became a means of responding to the anti-Black bias reporting found in white newspapers.


One of the preeminent themes of the black press was its legacy of spirited activism. African American publishers and journalists understood that their duty was not only to report the news but to help black communities forge cohesive political movements.


As we uncover Knoxville’s Black society life in the first half of the 20th century, we are interested in how our findings might help us to understand the contours of Knoxville's Black metropolis and possibly expand on the idea of a broader Black renaissance. 

Meet Our Spring 2022 Fellow,
Shaneda Destine


Dr. Shaneda Destine is an Assistant Professor with a dual appointment in Sociology and Africana Studies, who completed her Doctoral degree at Howard University. Her research highlights the unique ways Black women and femmes are affected by state violence and the ways in which they strategize and negotiate organizing, leading and caring for themselves and movement participants, as part of their political practice. Dr. Destine’s  most recent work is “#ReclaimingMyTime: Black Women Movement Actors’ Experiences with Intra-Movement Conflicts and the Case for a Transformative Healing Justice Model in Societies without Borders: Human Rights and the Social Sciences. She is currently working on multiple articles and a book project.

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