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Back in 1982, members of the Douglass High School Alumni Association in Kingsport first wanted to recognize graduating African-American high school seniors, whose descendants attended Kingsport's African-American high school.
"I had no idea I was getting a scholastic award," he says. "When they called my name, I went up on stage in from of all those people. They said I was being honored with the V.O. Dobbins Scholastic Memorial Award, and I was very suprised. I knew about Mr. Dobbins and Douglass High School.. my mother Mabel and my aunt Jesse Dennis both went to Douglass, and I remember they telling me how he used to grow vegetables in his garden in the summer so the students there would have something hot to eat in the winter. My folks always told me about the good education that they got, so the fact that I received an honor with Mr. Dobbins' name on it meant a lot."
Scholarship availability was always open to Douglass School descendants, but requirements to receive awards tightened up a bit over the years.
AT LEFT, DOUGLASS SCHOLARSHIP PRESENTATION, 2011
Since the change, Jessica Williams and Darius Davis received Douglass scholarships in 2010. At right, Briasha Russell, Chris Sensabaugh and Brenton Leeper were the recipients in 2011. The next year 2012 saw the largest number of scholarships in alumni history: Sierra Evans, Todd Gilmore, Courtney Alexander, Kelsie Dulaney and Justin Long were the honorees. Last year, Devanun Swafford, Hunter Muller, Cyndee Morrisette and Jessica Cherry were the winners.
BELOW RIGHT, GRANDMOTHERS OF 2014 DOUGLASS SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
For 2014, the recipients of Douglass scholarships are Evan Wilmer, Akeyia Arnett and Dontae Johnson.
Only a few months ago, the long-lost V.O. Dobbins Scholastic Memorial Award plaque was found and presented to the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association by Dobyns-Bennett High School. The alumni group's board then decided to combine the Scholastic Memorial award and the Douglass alumni scholarships, creating a new V.O. Dobbins, Sr. - Sons and Daughters of Douglass Scholarship Memorial Award.
AT RIGHT, BYRON WILLIAMS, DB-DOUGLASS CLASS OF 1982
The new focus continues the legacy of the Douglass School of Kingsport through its many descendants, including Byron Williamson. He went on to ETSU, earning a degree in computer science.