Sunday, November 22, 2015

An Interview with Danny Glover

Daniel Lebern "Danny" Glover, born on July 22, 1946 is an American actor, film director and political activitst.  Glover is well known for his roles as Albert Johnson in "The Color Purple," Detective Sergeant Roger Murtaugh in the "Lethal Weapon" film series, cowboy Mal Johnson in "Silverado," Michael Harrigon in "Predator 2," corrupt cop  James McFee in "Witness," Colonel Isaac Johnson in "Shooter," detective David Tapp in "Saw," and George Knox in "Angels in the Outfield."  Glover has also appeared in amy other movies, television shows and theatrical productions.  He's also an active supporter of various humanitarian and political causes.

Glover is also a supporter of union causes, crediting that to his parents, both members of the United Postal Workers Union, while he was growing up.

In Chattanooga recently to tour the Volkswagen of American plant, I had the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about his memorable career in films.

One of the beauties of the degrees of success I’ve had, is that we can remember movies by a certain topic or gestures or lines, and I’ve had the great fortune of being in those types of movies that have memorable lines, gestures and topics.  You go from one film to the next film to the next film to the next film, and sometimes you don’t recognize the cumulative impact of a career when you see it in retrospect.  I had a guy stop me in the gym where I was working out, and he asked me about getting into films.  I told him that everything I do is, to a large extent, is to increase my capacity.  

I also told him the cumulative impact of what I’ve done allows me to get into a particular state of mind and focus within a process of doing a film, within the work methodology of doing a film.  I didn’t just develop that overnight, it’s a process, and I realize that each film is a testimony to my own growth, to my own development, my own development, my own understanding about what I’ve done.  I think it’s a metaphor for life in a way, the level you live life, the better you get at living life.

Are you a method actor?

You want to call it method acting, but I call it “emersion acting.”  I’ve studied the great theories about acting, and sometimes you read something and starting thinking, I do that organically, I don’t have a name for it, but organically that’s where I go.  

I remember early in my career, I had a difficult time auditioning, because of a combination of a couple of things.. I felt uncomfortable in the process, I felt intimidated by the process.  The other thing is, you go into an audition and you do what you want to do, you read the material and the material responds to you intuitively and instinctively, not what you expect the director would want.

In the early stages when I started doing that, I’d audition one, two scenes, a little part in television or something like that, what I began to realize is, I felt more comfortable after the audition.  Yeah, I would want the job, but I felt ‘Danny, did you accomplish what you wanted to accomplish when you went in to the audition?’  ‘Was this how I wanted to respond to the words and to the scene and to the moment and this was your presentation’ and not what I expect the director to say?’  The director could say  ‘oh I like that’ or he could say ‘I don’t like that, but try this… that’s interesting, but try this.’  If we did it that way, I would feel real comfortable and so I began to judge myself during the audition process and I became less intimidated by the process itself.  Within the framework of the audition, you’re able to get the most out of your performance. 

8 year old Daniel Glover

My mother was born in Lewisville, Georgia.  Part of my moral upbringing was my mother always saying ‘I’m eternally grateful for the upbringing I got from my own mother, because I didn’t pick cotton in September, I went to school in September.’  She went to Payne College, graduated from there in 1942, made her way up to New York after teaching a year in high school, met my father in 1942 or 44, courted and married at the end of 1944.   By that time, they had relocated to San Francisco because my father had been transferred in the Army to out there, from upstate New York to LA to Oakland.

Danny and James Glover

With my mother and father, you have to understand how they were in the emerging movement of civil rights.  Eventually, they went to work for the U.S. postal service, and they always felt that they were doing something important.  It was interesting to see how they were seeing the emerging civil rights movement and were right at the very start of it.  The postal service was primarily African-American at that time, and to see the civil rights movement get started, they felt that they were doing something very important.   I go around the country and speak and one of the things I ask is, ‘how many of you had parents, grandparents or relatives in the postal service?’  A lot of hands go up.  The post office was always a place where you could work and build a family at home, or you could use it as a jumping off point to another job.  They could be anywhere.. San Francisco, Chicago or New York, but they could tune in to see what was happening in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and some of the civil rights battlegrounds.  That was the childhood I came into.  

When I was watching the Montgomery bus boycott on television in 1955, the meaning of that was reinforced by my parents, the dynamic, the importance of that news item.  I was fortunate to have my parents reinforce how important that was to my future.  Not everyone who came in that generation had that.

On "The Color Purple"

It’s celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, you know.  You always feel like you’re endowed because you’re chosen to do something that’s important.  As actors, producers, directors and participants, we felt this was an important film.  Every one of us came into it with that, from Steven Spielberg the director, to Quincy Jones the producer.. I’m thinking of even the CEO of Warner Brothers who came to the set and spent time with us.  Everybody felt that within their hands, this was something that was very important.

Every one of us gave so much of ourselves in our relationships to the roles and in the way in which we bonded, not just as actors but as people.  To have something that’s important to do and feel that it’s important is special.  People still talk about The Color Purple.  I run into people that weren’t even born when The Color Purple came out and say ‘I hated you in The Color Purple!’  All of us as actors were in the early stages of our careers.  Every single one of us.  None of us had done anything, I don’t know that Whoopi had ever done her first film, Oprah hadn’t done anything except her TV show, it was her first film.

It got enough nominations.  Do you think "The Color Purple" should have won an Oscar?     I can’t tell you that.  Geraldine Page (who won the 1985 Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for The Trip to Bountiful, and beat out Whoopie Goldberg) was a brilliant person, gave a brilliant performance.  She’d been around as an actress, everybody knew who she was… Lionel Ritchie did win an Oscar for his original song ‘Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister, Sister)', Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey may have canceled each other out (for Best Supporting Actress), I don’t know.  And then, it may have been the kind of social dynamic at that time.   I think the conversation surrounding the image of African-American men at that time was valuable.  I think it was important discussion, essential discussion.  I would have been disappointed if that discussion had not emerged at that time, because what The Color Purple does, is, because it’s an expressive film, it gives people the chance to have opinions, their own questions.  

The issue of racism promotes a sense of self-protectiveness, like ’there’s no spousal abuse in the black community,’ ‘there’s no child abuse in the black community’ and all that.  It makes you protective about the historical portrayals about things that we know, happened.  For years, people bought into those stereotypes.

On the "Lethal Weapon" movies

It was fun doing those movies, it was a great experience, a great time working with Mel Gibson.  I loved working with Mel, just the improv we were able to do, the easiness, the comfort in the situations.  I can say for myself, and I hope Mel can say the same thing that there was a level of comfort.  I really think of the special moments.  We did four of them, and I think that’s enough.  No more 'Lethal Weapons.'   To quote a phrase, ‘we too old for this @#$%.’ (laughs).  But it was really, really, really special.

On "Predator 2"

I’ll tell you a little story.. I was offered a role.. I was in Chicago at the Steppenwolf Theater, doing a play, 1986, the beginning of 1986.  I got offered a script and it was the first Predator.  The reason why I looked at it.. the first thing that you see, the first action in the role they wanted me to play, is where the man is abusing a woman.  I could not do another role abusing a woman… I’m sitting in Chicago and the hotbed of discussion after The Color Purple… I just couldn’t do another role abusing a woman, so I just turned it down.   And then, they came to me with Lethal Weapon and I took that one.  They came with three different roles, and I took that one.

Wonderfully, incredible guy came to me about Predator 2 and he presented the idea of doing it because the whole team was back, the writer was back, the special effects team was back.. I have two films I’ve done that I feel that I was bigger than life in, in which I felt that I could control the space.  Silverado for me, and Predator 2.

Silverado was the one where I played this iconic cowboy you know, and the character carries this one gun, a Henry rifle.  And then, when he’s around his father, he has two of them.  An iconic role.. against all odds. 

Then in Predator 2, it was like ‘who’s the baddest cat in your space, and the baddest cat says ‘I’m gonna challenge you.’   Mano y mano.  I was the baddest guy in his space.  What happens?  I kill him, and then the others come around, and I’m like ‘alright…. who’s next?’  (laughs)  That’s a form of movie making, a form of storytelling.  You see it in the graphic novels, and things like that.  I was about 42, 43.. in the best shape in my life, best shape I’ve been in.  I was running on the beach, had my training, I was lifting weights a lot more than I am now.  I was really feeling it in that movie.

On his new Christmas Movie, "A Meyer's Christmas

It’s really a lovely little story.. we’ve got a super cast, a who’s who.  I play the patriarch of the family, a very successful man with a very successful family, and I lose my wife the prior Christmas and this is the first Christmas without her.  There is the realization of how much we depended on her for the big things and also the little things in our lives.  She was the mediator of our arguments, she prepared all the dishes that we all enjoyed, and she was part of all of our relationships.  Now, she’s gone.  

At the end, we find out that we have to find a new way to adjust our lives and adjust without her.  All of us are rather tense, especially my sister-in-law Mo'nique.  I’m the one who organized the family get-together this time, my wife normally did that, the woman that I had been married to for 40 some-odd years.   Christmas was always special to our family.

  It’s a lovely little script, David Talbott is the writer and director, and really did an admirable job.. it’s funny, crazy at times, but it’s beautiful because it’s family. 

Welcome to Southeast Tennessee and welcome to Chattanooga.

Thank you.  It's been a good visit.

                             ---Calvin Sneed

The 2015 Kingsport Christmas Parade: Santa Claus Has Come To Town!

As always, it takes the Santa Train to bring the big guy's message to town.

The world's longest Christmas Parade signals the message that the spirit of giving all year long, has taken center stage.

Just like children along the 110 miles of the old Clinchfield rail line from Shelbiana, Kentucky to Kingsport, thousands gathered at the old Main Street depot, to receive candy and gifts tossed into the crowd, a tradition that dates back to 1943 along the railroad tracks.

Below are pictures of people, floats and the atmosphere that is the annual Kingsport Christmas Parade... an event we have enjoyed in Riverview all of our lives, and can now pass on to our future generations!

Click here to see video of Santa arriving at the station:

Click here to see an overview of the Toy Toss:

Click here to see an up-close and personal view of the Toy Toss:

Click here to see the Sullivan North High School Marching Band in the Parade:

Click here to see the Sullivan South High School Marching Band in the Parade:

Click here to see the Dobyns-Bennett High School Marching Band in the Parade:

Click here to see Santa riding by on his fire engine sleigh:

Click below and turn your speakers up for the slide show of the 2015 Kingsport Christmas Parade:

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Annual Riverview Seniors Christmas Dinner


Monday, November 16, 2015

Douglass alumni group helps Lincoln students stay warm


KINGSPORT — Some students at Lincoln Elementary School will be warm in new coats, hats and gloves this winter, thanks to the Sons and Daughters of Douglass and a grant from the city of Kingsport.

The Sons and Daughters group, alumni of the former Douglass High School that served black students before desegregation, donated the winter wear items last month for distribution to students who needed them at Lincoln Elementary. The school distributed the items this month to about 60 students; another distribution will occur around the first of December.

“The students were so excited they had their coats, hats, and gloves on going home, and I think it was 70 degrees out,” said Marsha Musick, a social worker who is the family liaison at Lincoln, where the principal is Shelia Newland. “They will need them very soon. What a blessing.”

This marks the second year the Douglass group has donated items to Lincoln students. Last year’s offerings were food, socks, T-shirts, sweat shirts and school supplies, said Andrea Watterson and Judy C. Phillips of the Douglass group.

Musick said the school works with families in the community to look at students’ needs in determining recipients of the coats and other items.

The grant was for $2,500, with about half that amount going for the items handed out recently. The rest of the money will be spent on items for the December distribution, Watterson said. Phillips said last year the Douglass group went shopping twice at both Kingsport Walmarts, while this year’s items for phase one came from Burlington Coat Factory. She said retailers give the group deals and discounts on the items, which go to students ranging from Pre-K to fifth grade. Lincoln has about 470 students.

Watterson worked for nine years as a cook in the Lincoln cafeteria and is a former vice president of the Douglass group, and her cousin, Alan Watterson, helped with the donated clothing.

“All of my children attended here,” Phillips said.

Watterson, Phillips and Sandy Wilmer were members of the Douglass group’s committee for this year’s clothing distribution.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board Meeting

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board will meet this Saturday November 14, 2015.
The meeting will start at 1PM and will be held in the Eastman Board Room of the V. O. Dobbins Sr. Complex tower, 2nd floor.
We need to finalize the plan(s) for our Membership Drive Committee lunch/dinner. The Community Room is reserved for next Saturday 21 November 2015 for the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni .
Any suggestions or ideas from alumni and community are welcomed by the fundraising committee.
Please mark your calendar for Saturday, November 14, 2015.
Please bring a friend, neighbor, or member with you. All are welcome.

Alan M. Watterson, President
Sons and daughters of Douglass Alumni

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fighting Homelessness in Kingsport

This is a worthwhile effort especially in Riverview and our community.  Please click the arrow in the center of the pictures to play video:

Please click on the link below to sign the petition to bring attention and awareness to the problem of homelessness in our city:

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Fundraiser for Jacqueline Paige Bond-Turner

There is a fundraiser for our own Jacqueline Paige Bond-Turner who has cancer and will be going to Vanderbilt Hospital in late November to have her stomach removed.


Her kids are part of New Vision Youth and the fundraiser is to raise money for the family to help out with her medical and lodging bills that will occur during her stay at Vanderbilt. 

Donations also accepted.  

Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Citizen Police Academy Graduates

   Kingsport Citizen Police Academy Graduates at the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Meeting - Photo courtesy Jeff Fleming


Friday, October 30, 2015

Bethel's Holiday Bazaar

Bethel AME Zion Church, 812 Maple-Oak Lane, will hold its annual Holiday Bazaar on Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Dress in your favorite biblical costume and take a picture with “The Great Pumpkin.” Breakfast, lunch, baked goods and holiday decor will be sold.

Friday, October 23, 2015

2015 Red Ribbon March Announcement

The annual Red Ribbon March will be held on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 from 4 PM to 6 PM.

We will march around the community holding signs about being drug-free.  There will also be an essay-writing contest and a pizza party after we march.

We are partnering with the Kingsport Police Department, New Vision Youth, the Riverview Boys and Girls Club, South Central Kingsport Community Development, and the Riverview Residents Association.

Everyone is welcome to come out and help us march for a "Drug Free Community!"

For more information, contact Alvasia Blye at the Riverview Residents Association, 423-863-1111, Johnnie Mae Swagerty, New Vision Youth, 423-429-7553, or Tay at the Riverview Boys and Girls Club, 423-967-1589.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

2015 Riverview Fall Clean Up

The Fall Clean Up in the Riverview Community

Participants:  New Vision Youth, South Central Kingsport Community Development, Kingsport Public Works, the Community Corrections/Probation/Parole Program and Riverview Neighborhood volunteers.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Event Coordinator Johnnie Mae Swagerty


Annual Dues Increasing for Douglass Alumni: Programs and Overhead Cited

It will cost you a little more to be a member of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association of Kingsport.

At its meeting on Saturday, October 10th, the alumni board has approved a three-tier system of increased dues, designed to allow members to show their support for the alumni association with different amounts and contributions.

Beginning next year, alumni dues for the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association will rise from $25.00 dollars a year, to the three levels of support:

$50.00 dollars a year at the bronze level

$75.00 dollars a year at the silver level

$100 dollars a year at the gold level.

"We have different fund raisers from time to time to keep our bottom line all right," says alumni president Alan Watterson, " but to fund programs that we do during lean months, sometimes we just don't have the money.  $25.00 has supported us for a while, but if we're going to survive, an increase in the dues is necessary."

"Compared to other alumni associations in the area, I'm suprised that we've been able to get by with 25 dollars a year," he says.  "We just can't afford that anymore."

When he took over as president at the Douglass reunion back in July, Watterson echoed a growing sentiment on the board, that many Douglass alumni and their descendants in Kingsport and beyond, are not members of the association.

"This was their school," Watterson said then.  "Douglass was the school years ago for all black children where we got good educations from good teachers.   To not be in its alumni association is almost a disservice."

He's also urging people to join the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association and be part of something special.

"Our alumni numbers are dwindling fast," he says.  "The alumni and their descendants need to hold on to the heritage of this school.  Once it's gone, it's gone forever.  If you lose that history, you lose part of yourself," he says.

At the board meeting on Saturday, Watterson launched a recruitment drive designed to bring more members to the alumni association.  "We want people to be part of our community," he says.  "Helping us support our programs and grow them is important for our young people.  This is their heritage, too."

In other action, the Board is making a move to focus also on fundraising.  Admiring the success of recent fish fries, board members have formed a fundraising committee.  Its goal is to come up with different interesting and fun ways of raising money for alumni programs and the board's overhead.  Board members Sandy Wilmer, Pam Sensabaugh and Thelma Watterson volunteered to be on the new fundraising arm of the alumni association.

Any suggestions from alumni and the public are welcomed by the fundraising committee.

Elsewhere, Board member Doug Releford told the group that it's time to begin thinking about continuing a special project to purchase needed items for many underprivileged children at the Lincoln School.

Last year, the alumni association applied for and received a community development block grant that it used to buy school supplies and book bags for students at the school, considered one of the poorer schools in the Kingsport city school system.  As it turns out, after Lincoln School administrators told the association what the children were having to do without, the list of supplies expanded to include snack items, clothes, shoes, and warm coats for the winter.

The association spent almost $700 dollars it received from the grant.  "Those kids were so appreciative of what they got back in the spring," Releford says.  "I really think they would have done without, if we hadn't done something for them."

"Many of those kids come from broken homes in our community, and they don't have a lot of the luxuries of other children in the school system," he says.  "Our mission has always been to help those in the community who need it, and we'll step up and do what we can this fall, so the kids at Lincoln can have the same learning opportunities as the other kids in the school system."

Andra (Puddin) Watterson, Thelma Watterson, Ozine Bly and Judy Blye are on the School Supply committee, checking into partnerships with area merchants and putting smiles on the faces of children during the upcoming cold months.

If you'd like to help, please contact the members of the committee, or at

Please check the calendar on the Douglass website's main page periodically.  You'll now be seeing upcoming events of the Alumni Association and the community that will keep you updated on what's going on in our association and the neighborhood.

The next meeting of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association will be on Saturday, November 14, 2015 at 1 PM, in the Eastman Board Room of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex.

All Douglass alumni, their descendants and anyone else are invited to attend the meeting.

If you've not ever been to a meeting, you're asked to please come and join the group.  A lot gets done, in the spirit of, and continuing the legacy of..... the Douglass High School of Kingsport.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board Meeting

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board will meet this Saturday, October 10, 2015.

The meeting will start at 1 PM and will be held in the Eastman Board Room of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex Tower, 2nd floor.

Please bring a member, friend, neighbor.  We welcome new ideas and suggestions.

This will be a covered dish meeting, so bring your favorite dish and share with members and friends.

Please mark your calendar for Saturday, October 10, 2015.  We have several old and new business items on the table to discuss.

Alan M. Watterson, President
Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association, Inc.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Huff's Anniversary

Danny and Peggy Huff celebrated their 50th anniversary on August 29, 2015, cruising around and touring the Hawaiian Islands.

Both Danny and Peggy were born and raised in Greeneville, Tennessee and both attended the George Clem School (grades 1 to 12) where they were high school sweethearts.  They graduated in 1964, and were united in holy matrimony by the late Reverend C.C. Mills, Sr. on August 29, 1965.

Mr. and Mrs. Huff moved to Kingsport, Tennessee where they set up housekeeping for the next 50 years.

To their union, they were blessed with three children, Vicki of Oak Park, Illinois...... Danny, Jr. of Kingsport........ and James Edward of Knoxville.  They have also been blessed with seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Gents to Gentlemen pageant planned

KINGSPORT — New Vision Youth, in partnership with Kingsport Parks and Recreation Community Services and Taylor-Hamilton Insurance Agency will hold the Gents to Gentlemen Male Pageant on Oct. 17 at the Civic Auditorium.

The pageant will begin at 7 p.m. Applications can be picked up at the Civic Auditorium. 

There will be a number of age divisions from birth up to senior citizens. Additionally there will be Best Dressed, Mr. Smiles, Best Total Package and People's Choice categories.

The entry free is $25 and the deadline for registration is Oc. 14.

The proceeds will go to benefit Special Olympics. For information contact Johnnie Mae Swagerty at (423) 429-7553 or Mary Hamilton at (423) 246-3817.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Kingsport's Jevonte Lyons Heading to California For Auditions


By Marci Gore

Kingsport's Jevonte Lyons will travel to California next week, to audition for a singing competition television show.  Lyons was the 2014 Kingsport Idol winner.

Jevonte Lyons began singing his freshman year in high school.  And last year at the age of 17, he was named the overall winner of Kingsport Idol.  

Next week, the 18 year old will travel to California to meet with and audition for the producers of a long-running singing competition show.  Because of the show's confidentiality guidelines and rules, Jevonte says he cannot publicly reveal the name of the show.

Jevonte sings with Kingsport's New Vision Youth, a group of Tri-Cities youth, ages 8 to 17.

"I'm a supervisor at Merry Maids and one day last month, I was cleaning an apartment and just decided to stop and make a video while I was cleaning," he said.  He sent in the video, singing Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud," and was called back to meet with the producers on September 16th.

"Music has always been a big part of my life, but I guess I seriously started singing in my freshman year of high school.  Something was just in the back of my mind to give this a try.  I didn't know what to expect when I sent in the video.  I'd love to see this lead to more exposure of my music, where people could hear my music on the radio.," said Jevonte, adding that his two musical inspirations are James Blount and John Legend.

When he arrives in California this week, Jevonte says he'll be prepared to sing several songs, including "I Don't Wanna Be" by Gavin DeGraw, "Chains" by Nick Jonas, and "Brand New Key" by Melanie.

As exciting as all this is to Jevonte, a trip to California does not come cheap.  Johnnie Mae Swaggerty, who works with the kids in the New Vision Youth group, has known Jevonte for several years.  Swaggerty contacted the Times-News seeking help in getting the necessary funds to send Jevonte to California.

Swaggerty asks that anyone who wishes to help Jevonte send donations to Kingsport Idol, c/o Mark Kilgore, 853 Bays Mountain Park Road, Kingsport, TN 37660.

Mark Kilgore serves as Kingsport Idol's coordinator and host and says, although Kingsport Idol is not sponsoring Jevonte's trip to California, he is super excited for the young man he worked with during last year's competition.

"Jevonte is an amazing vocalist with so much ability and talent," Kilgore says.  "I hope to hear him on the radio some day.  As coordinator of Kingsport Idol, I am proud to have him represent the competition."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Thank You from the President

 To the Sons and Daughters of Douglass, Inc. of Kingsport, Tennessee: 

Thank you, thank you, and thank you. You all have given your time and effort in helping to make the Golden Reunion a successful, blessed, and memorable occasion.

     A special thanks to Andra Watterson, Bonney Abbott, Douglas and Vivian Releford, Sandra Wilmer, Pam Sensabaugh and Lillian Leeper. The Organization Committee of the Great Golden Gathering 2015. Thank all of you.

     Invitation to attend the S.D.D.I. meetings was extended to several in/out towner alumnus whenever they can. If you know of anyone in the community that might be interested, invite them to attend. We welcome new ideas and suggestions.

     The more community participation we have, the more likely we will be able to boost our membership.

     Please mark your calendars for Sept. 12 (second  Saturday in September.). The Sons and Daughters meeting will start at 2:00 PM in the Eastman Board room at the V. O. Dobbins. Sr. complex. Bring someone with you!!!

Alan M. Watterson
Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni President

(EDITOR'S NOTE:  The alumni of Douglass High School-Kingsport were recognized for having the SECOND highest attendance at the Great Golden Gathering 2015... behind Langston High School-Johnson City)

Alumni from region’s all-black schools gather


   NET News Service
   It’s been 50 years since African-American schools across the country closed in a wave of integration.
   And for some of those schools’ students, it’s been 50 years since they’d seen friends and classmates.

    But this weekend's Great Golden Gathering, gathered nearly 200 alumni from 15 African-American schools across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia in a mass of hugs and laughter.

   Calvin Sneed, the event’s chairman, guided the idea for a mega-reunion in less than a year. While some of the schools have their own reunions, this is the first reunion encompassing all of the region’s African-American schools.
   He said he couldn’t have been happier with the turnout.
   “It takes your breath away,” Sneed said. “I’ve seen reunions that haven’t taken place in 50 years between schools. People who they thought they’d never see again and everyone goes their separate ways after the schools close, and I’ve seen those reunions. It’s just been so heartwarming — this is what we wanted to do.”

   One of the planned guest speakers included civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, who canceled his appearance earlier this week due to his mother being in the hospital. That didn’t stop him from sending his best to the reunion, though. Jackson sent a several-minute video clip to Sneed, who kept it a surprise until showing the clip after the banquet Saturday evening.
   “I just can’t believe that with his mother on life support, that he would do this for us,” Sneed said.
   The reunion was open to anyone who attended an all-black school before the end of segregation closed those schools.
   Attendees ranged in age from those in their early 50s to some who were in their 90s, but all remembered the civil rights era and the struggle for civil rights.
   While some of the alumni only had to drive down the interstate for the reunion, others, like Margaret Alexander, trekked from other states in order to spend the weekend with former classmates and old friends.
   Alexander attended Douglass School in Bristol, Va., for 11 years, and graduated from Virginia High School after desegregation. She went on to be one of the first black women to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
   Alexander now lives in Maryland with her husband, but took the weekend to come back to Bristol for the reunion.
   “It’s been lovely seeing friends,” she said. “It’s a joy and a thrill to see the other schools and their memories and their thoughts and to laugh and to joke with them. It’s always good to come home to see what’s left of our heritage.”
   Sneed said that this reunion would make to be a historic event, and that amid the fun and clamor of the reunion, ideas for a repeat reunion began to flourish among attendants.
   And with a board meeting creeping up after the Great Golden Gathering’s close, that idea isn’t far-fetched. Sneed said the board would discuss making the reunion a biennial event for classmates of former African-American schools.
   “Our numbers are deteriorating and we don’t want to not be able to see each other,” Sneed said. “There’s going to come a time when we want to see one another and we can’t. That’s why we’ve got to do it as much as possible and we’ve got to enjoy each other, because tomorrow’s not promised.”

     Between 1963 and 1966, the region’s African-American schools closed for integration, including Langston High School in Johnson City, Douglass High School in Kingsport, Douglass High School in Bristol, Virginia, Slater High School in Bristol, Tennessee, George Clem High School, Douglas High School, Tanner High School, Swift College High School, Arty Lee High School, Morristown West High School, Nelson-Merry High School, Austin High School, and Bland High School, which combined Central High School and Appalachia Training School.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Great Golden Gathering 2015

These are pictures and videos from the Great Golden Gathering 2015, held at the Bristol Holiday Inn - Bristol Conference Center, Bristol VA, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 28, 29 and 30, 2015.  

(When the videos starts, make sure your speakers are on, to hear the music and the audio)




SCHOOL SONGS:  Douglass-Kingsport, Slater-Bristol, Swift-Rogersville, Morristown West-Morristown, Nelson-Merry Jefferson City, & Austin-Knoxville

SCHOOL SONG:  Langston-Johnson City

SCHOOL SONG: Douglass-Bristol VA








Friday, August 28, 2015

Viewing the Banquet at the Great Golden Gathering 2015

We have arranged to have the Banquet at the Great Golden Gathering 2015 live-streamed, so that folks who could not attend the event, can at least see the Banquet.

Go to this web address:

And click on the link titled "The Great Golden Gathering."

The live-stream will start on Saturday about 5:15 PM and will last through the entire banquet.

Please spread the word and tell everybody.. if you know of somebody out of town, please call them and tell them to tell somebody else.  Even though we had to limit the number of people coming, we wanted everybody to have an opportunity to see the banquet.


Great Golden Gathering 2015
Calvin Sneed, Chairman
For the Organizing Committee