BiographyJames G. Beck came to Knoxville to attend Knoxville College Normal School in 1898 from Camden, Alabama. He finished in 1902, and graduated from Knoxville College in 1906. James graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science, and held a fine record in foreign languages, especially in Latin and Greek. In college, James distinguished himself in several sports, he was particularly good in baseball. After graduation, he taught at several schools including Austin High School in 1910 where he was named head of the English Department. He also served as the first black athletic coach at Knoxville College, and later accepted the job of athletic director. James was an administrator of the Knoxville Giants, a semi-pro negro baseball team, who traveled throughout the south.
In 1913 James became the first black postal clerk in Tennessee. He was hired at Knoxville Post Office where he was employed for 29 years, retiring April 7, 1942. James was among the chief organizers of the of the Knoxville Branch of the National Association for the Advancement Colored People in 1919, and served as the first treasurer of the organization.
Beck was instrumental in the establishment of the Ethel Beck Home for Orphans in 1919 where he served as treasurer of the organization. James was a life-long republican who served as a sergeant-at-arms at the 1940 National Republican Convention. He was a candidate for City Council in 1951. Later in 1963, James was elected first member of the Knoxville College Hall of Fame. James died at the age of 87 after a lingering illness at Fort Sanders in 1969.
James and Ethel Beck