Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Dairy Mart: A Neighborhood "Tasty Sweet"

Back in the day, every neighborhood in Kingsport had some kind of identifying business.. some establishment that everybody could identify with, that always brings people out to visit, maybe enjoy good food, or each other's company.

In the 1950's. Riverview had several of those businesses.. Emmitt Collins' grocery store, Paul Taylor's grocery-liquor store, Reverend C.E. Edge's store, the "Hut." But there was only one where you could enjoy BOTH great food and lots of good fellowship.

It was the old Dairy Mart on Lincoln Street, now Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. It was located directly across the street from the old Riverview swimming pool, now a splash pad.

"Every Sunday, we made about 200 dollars and that was just in milk shakes alone," says 91-year-old Nora Mae Taylor, as she recalled the little box restaurant that she and her husband Jason operated for years. "We had chocolate, vanilla and strawberry..they were all homemade. We had a mixer that mixed it, but everything that went in we did by hand."

The Dairy Mart's claim to fame wasn't in liquid form, though. It was one item that no full-plate fast food restaurant can do without now.

"The foot-long hot dog in Kingsport was born at our restaurant," Mrs. Taylor says. "We were the first restaurant, black or white, in Kingsport that had foot-long hot dogs. This was 6 or 7 years before Pal's. We got them from up in Bristol at Valleydale, and they told us nobody else from Kingsport ever ordered foot-longs but us. I come up with the idea, I don't why I come up with it. They were 25 cents apiece, and the little hot dogs were 10 cents. We had relish.. the sauce, hot dog sauce.. and onions. I despised cutting up all them onions, eyes would water.. I had lots of onions to cut up. People started coming to Riverview to get them foot-longs. The children would come up and the foot-longs were so big, they'd have to share. We had hamburgers and ice cream stuff, but we sold more foot-longs than anything else."

The banana splits were a hit, too.

"They were also 25 cents," says Mrs. Taylor. "I'd take a whole banana and split it up in this little glass dish. Nowadays, they used those plastic dishes that you can take with you, but ours were glass. We'd put ice cream, strawberries, nuts and the chocolate. They'd eat 'em right there and then give us the dish back. Nobody ever walked off with one, they always gave 'em back. They're antique dishes now."

"You couldn't eat inside, so everybody just ate outside underneath the two trees between our place and Reverend (C.E.) Edge's," Mrs. Taylor remembers. "We had (daughter) Brenda and (son) Ronnie down there helping us out, and the kids would always talk Brenda into giving them a little bit more, an extra strawberry, extra chocolate. Jason took her to the side after the day was over and say 'you can't give the profits away.' Every once in a while though, the kids did get extra."

Mrs. Taylor remembers fondly, the McMiller brothers.

"Mark and Rusty would come by, and of course they'd want the ice cream," she recalls. "The other kids would have their dimes, nickels and pennies ready, and Mark and Rusty would act like they had theirs, too. The other kids would get ice cream cones, and the boys would get ice cream. I'd say 'honey, where's your money?' and they'd say 'we don't have any money.' They were such cute kids.. I'd end up giving it to 'em anyway. It was just a dime, so I'd go ahead and give 'em a dime and they'd give it right back. They loved that ice cream."

So what brought the Dairy Mart to Lincoln Street back in the 50's?

"(Husband) Jason went up to this place out there by Peggy Ann's on Center Street," Mrs. Taylor remembers. "There was this little building right beside the Peggy Ann's, and when he went up there, people were crowded up around it. Jason saw that and said he's gonna bring that little restaurant to Riverview. We had $12,000 saved up, and he put every penny in that restaurant. We never did make it back with hot dogs and hamburgers at 10 cents, but we had a good time selling stuff."

Mrs. Taylor says, the Dairy Mart always got excellent marks from the Health Department, because they worked hard at keeping it clean.

"It was a lot of nighttime work," she says. "We had to tear down that ice cream machine every night, clean it, and then put it back together for the next morning. It wasn't hard work, it was just time-consuming. When the Health Department came by, they'd inspect the counters for dust and check the refrigerators, and everything would always be clean."

"We always got "A's."

"And whenever the Riverview Pool was open during the spring and summer months, you'd have to park a block away and then walk to the Dairy Mart," said Mrs. Taylor. "We had both black customers and white customers, because we were within sight of Wilcox Drive, just past the old junkyard."

The Taylors were also operating a dry cleaners on Main Street a few blocks away from the Sullivan-Center Street intersection, when Mr. Taylor decided to bring the Dairy Mart to Riverview. "We were making a whole lot more money at the dry cleaners, with dress shirts at 45 or 50 cents, and suits at 75 cents apiece. We just couldn't do both places at once. In the early 60's, we decided to sell the restaurant."

The Dairy Mart closed down shortly after being sold.

Mrs. Taylor has watched the growth of Pal's Restaurants, and its 22 restaurants around the Upper East Tennessee area. What advice could Mrs. Taylor give "Pal" Barger these days, that helped the Dairy Mart back when?

"Always have a good location, and don't forget the customer," Mrs. Taylor says. "Get to know your regulars. Greet everybody with a smile, and 'have a good day.' Nobody does that much now. They're busy trying to get you in and out and they forget the courtesy."

The customer was always right, at the one place in Kingsport, that was always "tasty sweet."


Luncheon Joke Prompts Knoxville Urban League President to Quit Rotary Club


By Lola Alapo
Posted August 28, 2009 at 4:08 p.m.
KNOXVILLE - The president of the Knoxville Area Urban League has resigned from the Rotary Club of Knoxville after hearing what she perceived as a racist joke during a luncheon Tuesday.

Phyllis Y. Nichols walked out after speaker and businessman Joe Johnson made a reference to fighter Mike Tyson and used what she thought was a stereotypical mockery of the black dialect.

"It was racist to me," she said.

She later e-mailed her resignation to club president Sam Albritton.

Nichols was one of three black members of the club of about 200. She also was the only black female, she said.

"What I'm trying not to do is indict Rotary," Nichols said. "Rotary International is a terrific organization and I believe in it. I just choose not to be part of that particular club."

Johnson, founder of A&W Office Supply in Knoxville and also a member of the downtown club, said he meant no offense.

"I've apologized to Phyllis," he said. "There was never any intention to do anything insensitive to her or anyone else."

The local Urban League promotes diversity and economic and social equality for all residents, according to its Web site.

More details as they develop online and in Saturday's News Sentinel.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summit to Focus on Health Equity



Health equity is everyone’s issue, and finding solutions will significantly benefit everyone.
That’s the theme behind the “Minority Health Summit 2009: Your Health, Your Faith, Your Community, and Our Future: A Regional Meeting on New Partnerships.”

David Grace —
Clara Dulaney (front row, from left), Margaret Davis, Jeannie Hodges, the Rev. Kenneth Calvert (back row, left) and the Rev. Ricardo Dorcean are coordinating the Minority Health Summit set for Saturday.

The free event, organized by MATCH (Minority Action Team For Community Health), will be held from 9:30 AM to 3 PM, Saturday, at the Toy F. Reid Employee Center at Eastman Chemical Company. in Kingsport, and is open to the public.
In addition to workshops, a town hall panel, a keynote speaker and a youth summit, the event will offer free health screenings between 7 and 9 AM. The National Kidney Foundation will conduct a comprehensive health risk appraisal, obtain a blood pressure measurement, and perform blood and urine testing. Screening participants will be given an opportunity to discuss their health and review results with onsite clinicians.
Dr. Patricia Matthews-Juarez, associate vice president of faculty affairs and development, and a professor of family and community medicine at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, will be the keynote speake r.
The focus of the conference is to bring community members, churches, educators and regional leaders together to address the health of minorities in Northeast Tennessee. Participants will work to formulate a holistic definition for community health, recognize how African Americans are taking action to improve health in their communities, and discuss strategies and partnerships to improve health-care services and outreach in minority communities.
“This summit is for the public. This is for the community,” said Margaret Davis, program coordinator for the Northeast Tennessee Minority Resource Network and program chairman for the summit. “We are going to look at addressing the possibilities of partnerships . Some partnerships have already been established. Some are faith-based. Some are community-based. Some are research-based. We’ll also look at some of the numbers for the entire region to look at despaired populations.”
The health disparities between African Americans and other racial groups are striking, showing up in life expectancy, infant mortality and other measures of health status.
After opening remarks by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and State Rep. Joe Armstrong, the morning session will begin. After a free lunch, participants can visit various vendor booths. The afternoon session will be a town hall approach featuring questions and answers and moderated by Nathan Vaughn. Matthews-Juarez will end the summit.
Because part of the issue is educating young people, youth who attend the summit can join “Solutions for the Future,” a workshop facilitated by Dr. Cerrone Foster, the Rev. Rayford Johnson and Monique Anthony.
“We will have a simultaneous youth track, with group-led discussions around health, nutrition, disparities of youth, with them coming up with their own solutions,” Davis said.
“The challenge will be developing new strategies to eliminate bad habits. That’s why it’s so important to go through the youth,” said the Rev. Ricardo Dorcean, pastor of Central Baptist Church.
Organizers will use the summit as a forum to talk about some examples of positive programs already in place in the community. At Shiloh Baptist Church in Kingsport, members of the congregation are taking action to improve their health through healthy eating, an exercise program, and health checks at the church.
“Another example in Johnson City is a men’s health event at the Carver Recreation Center,” Davis said. “This is a regional approach. We’re looking at the entire First Congressional District.”
The benefit of these programs is lives being changed, said the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Calvert, pastor of Shiloh Baptist.
“All of this allows us to extend lives and improve life conditions,” he said.
Once the summit concludes, Davis said, organizers will look at creating a new paradigm to address the needs that are critical to achieving health equity. The new paradigm, she said, will use a four-pronged approach using partnerships: first, to strengthen communities where people live, work, worship, play, socialize and learn; two, to enhance opportunities within under-served communities to access high-quality, culturally competent health care with an emphasis on community-oriented and preventative services; third, to strengthen the infrastructure of our health system to reduce inequities and enhance the contributions from public health and health-care systems; and fourth, to support local efforts through leadership, overarching policies, and through local, state and national strate g y.
“It’s better for us to come together and try to defeat [disease] before it become problematic,” Calvert said.
“This summit is essential because people die from lack of knowledge,” Dorcean said. “Preventative medicine is the best medicine.”
For more information on the Minority Health Summit 2009, call 283-4116 or e-mail to

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Douglass Board Accomplishes Much at Meeting

The Douglass Alumni Association Board of Directors took several steps to return its operations to normal at its meeting on Saturday, August 22nd.

After a contentious meeting on August 1st that left the Board's existence in doubt, directors met Saturday and passed the following actions:

1. Adopted Roberts Rules of Order as a by-law in writing, as the standard operating procedure for Working Board meetings, and to have a hardbound copy of the rules for the Sergeant-At-Arms at every Working Board meeting;

2. Validated the election of Executive Officers held on June 27th. Those officers, including 2 permanent officers immediately took office on that date.

3. Allowed Doug Releford to rescind his resignation as Executive Board President. As elected, Doug is President of the Douglass Alumni Association for the next two-year term.

All challenges to the election were dropped.

Also present at the meeting were alumni members from Knoxville, Frank Horton, Bert Webb, Don Hickman and Sonya Sneed. Frank Horton's wife Dee Dee, also offered her services as mediator for some problems that needed discussion.

And then, there was the Herculian task of updating the Association's By-Laws, rules that have governed the organization since the 1970's.

"We had by-laws that were terribly outdated.. they just didn't make any sense anymore," said Board Executive President Doug Releford. "Actions that we had taken in even the past few years, were not supported by the by-laws that we had on file."

Updates were applied to the by-laws that govern the dues paid by Douglass Alumni; the committee that plans the Douglass Reunion banquet was renamed the Event-Planning Committee, and more responsibility was given to alumni living out-of-town.

Also eliminated, were two separate by-laws, that had conflicting dates on when the election of Executive Board Officers are to be conducted. Recommendations from Roberts Rules of Order, allowed the officers elected on June 27th to be validated.

One of the most important decisions made, is the establishment of what amounts to a 3-tiered structure of the Alumni Association. The First Tier is the Douglass Alumni Executive Board of Officers, which are all elected positions. The Second Tier is the Working Board of Directors, which consists of members who meet to attend to the month-to-month, sometimes day-to-day operations and administration of the Alumni Association's business. The Third Tier consists of all Douglass Alumni members in good financial standing (paid their dues).

All Douglass Alumni members are now entitled to vote for the Executive Board Officers, and also to attend the Working Board meetings, and vote with their brothers and sisters on Association business. This rule addition is important to all Douglass Alumni members, who want their voices to be heard in the operation of their Alumni Association.

Although the motions updating the by-laws listed in the minutes of the Saturday meeting below might seem confusing right now, they won't soon. In the coming weeks, NEW by-laws designed to hold the Executive Board and the Working Board accountable, both financially and morally, will be reviewed and considered. Right now, they are being scrutinized by a parliamentarian.

After that, a complete version of the Douglass Alumni Association By-Laws, both updated and any new additions, will be available on your Douglass Website.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Douglass Working Board Meeting Minutes, 8/22/09

August 22, 2009

Those in attendance:

Virginia Hankins, Andra Watterson, Sandra Wilmer, Lillian Leeper, Ozine Bly, Kathy Evans, Ruth Russell, Frank Horton, Roberta Lanauze, Donald Hickman, Pamela Sensabaugh, Douglas Releford, Van Dobbins, JR, Calvin Sneed, Wallace W. Ross, JR, Dawnella Ellis, Linda Bly, Judy Phillips, Joy Hankins, Sonya Sneed.

Meeting was called to order by Calvin Sneed, prayer by Ruth Russell.

Minutes of the last meeting were read, motion to accept the reading if the minutes with the necessary corrections was made by Sandra Wilmer, second by Andra Watterson. MOTION CARRIED.

Calvin Sneed made a motion to accept Roberts Rules of Order as our Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) of the Douglass Alumni Board was approved by a show of hands, second by Frank Horton. MOTION CARRIED.

Election of Executive Board Officers done on June 27th was upheld by Roberts Rules of Order, that revealed two conflicting sets of election rules in the by-laws. Executive Board Officers, plus two permanent officers elected on that day, were affirmed as being in office.

Donald Hickman asked by which article was the election of officers held. Question does the association want to keep Article 8 Section 2 and elect officers at the bi-annual association meeting in July or before the reunion banquet, which section should we keep. We need to resolve this issue before we go on. Donald made a motion to adopt NEW Article 9 and eliminate the two OLD conflicting election by-laws. By a show of hands, MOTION CARRIED.

Calvin Sneed stated that on August 1, 2009 Douglas Releford resigned as president of the Douglass Alumni Board, but since there was not a vote to accept his resignation per Roberts Rules of Order, Douglas was asked by Calvin Sneed if he rescinds his resignation, no motion needed. Douglas said yes. At this point the Meeting was turned over to Douglas.



To establish a three-tier system of the Douglass Alumni Association.
FIRST TIER: Executive Officers.
SECOND TIER: Working Board of Directors.
THIRD TIER: Douglass Alumni members.

Douglass Alumni members in good standing are allowed to vote for Executive Officers. Douglass Alumni members in good standing are allowed to attend meetings of the Working Board of Directors and can vote on matters before the Working Board, along with, and can discuss matters alongside, the Working Board of Directors. MOTION by Don Hickman, SECOND by Roberta Webb. MOTION CARRIES, 1 abstention.

MOTION TO ACCEPT ARTICLE IV, SECTION 2 (OLD BY-LAWS): "The dues for membership in the Association shall be an amount determined by a majority vote of the governing trustee Board of Director (also known as the Working Board of Directors), that reflects the financial needs, goals and urposes of the Association to conduct its business. The dtate for said dues to be paid, shall also be determined by a majority vote of the governing Trustee Working Board of Directors. Dues shall not be applied toward payment of Reunion Registration fees. MOTION MADE TO ACCEPT, Don Hickman, SECOND, Andra Watterson. MOTION CARRIED (unanimous).

MOTION TO RETAIN ARTICLE IX, SECTION 3: "The Financial Secretary shall be responsible for disbursement of monies to pay all bills, fees, etc of the Association. He/She shall make written or typed of disbursements for each regular meeting to the Association. He/She shall keep a record and receipts of all monies disbursed. A majority of the body may call for a special report." MOTION MADE TO KEEP, Sandy Wilmer, SECOND, Roberta Webb. MOTION CARRIED (unanimous)

MOTION TO RETAIN ARTICLE IV, SECTION 4: "The Treasurer shall be custodian of the Association funds. The Treasurer shall keep up=-to-date financial records of bank statements, money disbursed to financial the Financial Secretary to pay bills, fees, etc. He/She shall make an annual written or typed report to the Association. The majority of the body may call for a special report." MOTION MADE TO KEEP, Sandy Wilmer, SECOND, Roberta Webb. MOTION CARRIED (unanimous).


MOTION TO CHANGE THE NAME OF ARTICLE VII, SECTION 3: Banquet Committee to Event-Planning Committee. Duties remain the same. Motion also deletes the Planning Committee in Section 5 and moves its functions under Event-Planning Committee. MOTION TO CHANGE, Virginia Hankins, SECOND, Doug Releford. MOTION CARRIED (unanimous).

MOTION TO RENAME ARTICLE VII, SECTION 6: Endowment Committee is now Scholarship Committee. Addition to 2 Requirements for Candidates Applying for Scholarships--Number 3 addition reads "The Scholarship Committee exercises the right to review each candidate's suitability for scholarship application." AMENDMENT: Scholarship Committee will include a date to receive applications from applicants. MOTION TO RENAME AND INCLUDE ADDITION, Doug Releford, SECOND, Andra Watterson. MOTION CARRIED BY MAJORITY VOTE, 1 OPPOSED. MOTION TO ADD AMENDMENT, Andra Watterson, SECOND, Don Hickman. MOTION TO AMEND CARRIED.

At this point, the Douglass Alumni Association By-Laws are updated to August 22, 2009.

Dee Dee Horton stated that all members in good standing have a right to vote by proxy.

Douglas Releford stated that we need to write a $100 check to St. Mark. MOTION TO ACCEPT by Andra Watterson, SECOND by Frank Horton. MOTION CARRIED.

New Business:

Linda Bly presented a $100.00 check from Richard Clark.

President Douglas Releford appointed the Event-Planning Committee: Roberta Lanauze, Frank Horton, Donald Hickman, Joy Hankins, Sonya Sneed, and Virginia Hankins.

Donald Hickman suggested that the rotation of the meeting sites should be taken to the Event Planning Committee.

Donald Hickman suggested that the president appoint a special committee, to decide how we want our room in the V.O. Dobbins Center to be decorated. Douglas Releford stated that the carpet has already been picked out (Blue & Gold).

Financial Report by Sandra Wilmer. There is $5,842.42 in the checking account and $1,823.13 in the scholarship fund. Motion to accept the financial report was made by Sonya Sneed, second by Andra Watterson. Dee Dee Horton suggested that we need to deposit the money in an Interest Bearing Account.

Next meeting is scheduled for September 19, 2009 In Kingsport, location TBA.

Motion for adjournment was made by Andra Watterson, second by Calvin Sneed. MOTION CARRIED.

Respectfully Submitted

Thelma Watterson, Recording Secretary

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Douglass Board Meeting Moves Association Forward

The Douglass Alumni Board of Directors took steps to move forward this past Saturday. The entire Douglass Alumni Association should be proud of the accomplishments of the board at its meeting .

Articles are being worked on and finalized, because a lot of things were done, that gets the Board of Directors past several obstacles. Watch for these articles soon.

Problems with the Sprint-Nextel bandwith because of the nearby Bristol NASCAR race prevented us from streaming the meeting live..we just couldn't get signed on, because there was no space. Not to worry.. everything will be chronicalled in the upcoming articles.

Beam Signing in Riverview: Leave Your Mark on History

Douglass Alumni and Riverview-South Central residents have a chance to leave their names and messages in history.


Many Douglass Alumni, their descendants, and friends of Douglass High School have been stopping by to sign a steel beam, placed in the V.O. Dobbins Center hallway, just outside the old gym. Just bring your own marker and your name will be etched into the past memories of Douglass High School, and the future legacy of the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Community Center.

After a week of signing, the beam will be hoisted into place as the very last steel beam to be installed in the new building's construction. This beam will go high up into the new gymnasium, right beside the old Douglass gym on Louis Street.

"The signing of the last beam is a significant milestone in a building's construction schedule," says Chris McCartt, Kingsport's assistant city manger for community development. "It signifies a winding-down of the construction portion of any project. It's almost like a time capsule for the life of the building."

"Perhaps you want to dedicate a line to a long-lost fellow student," McCartt says, "or a favorite teacher, or a pillar in the community. Just stop by during this next week or so, and your remembrances will be etched in the history of the building forever."

Traditionally, beam-signings are done when the last beam has to be put in. The first steel for the V.O. Dobbins Community Center renovation was laid in the non-profit tower, for which, construction was finished in almost record time, given the rainy weather Kingsport has experienced in July and August. Steel construction then moved to the Headstart classrooms on Wheatley Street, then the offices and community room for the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority on the Dobbins baseball field outside the old gym, and finally the new gymnasium being built in the upper parking lot on Louis Street beside the old gym. The last steel is being put in the new gym, and hence, the last beam will be raised there.

McCartt says, at this point, no direct ceremony is planned when the beam is hoisted into place, because he says the site area is "quite frankly, a mess" with all the construction and dust. He says, the workers are trying to get ahead of the weather and try to have the property enclosed before cold weather sets in. McCartt says it is possible a beam-raising ceremony might be combined with the anticipated groundbreaking of the HOPE VI homes at the site of the former Riverview Apartments, but that decision will be made later.

"I think any project of this stature and magnitude in Kingsport and the Riverview Community, deserves a beam signing," he says, because they are really celebrations of the buildings, the chance for the community to come out to commemorate the significant completion of a project, and help celebrate with the construction crews that have been their neighbors for the past several months."

Remember... you only have approximately a week to sign your names into history. With the uncertainty of the weather, crews are looking to hoist that last beam as soon as possible. Drop by the inside hallway and sign it as soon as possible.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Neighborhood Watch Meeting Set

• KINGSPORT — South Central Kingsport Weed and Seed will hold a neighborhood watch meeting from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Monday at St. Mark United Methodist Church, 929 Maple St. The “Weed and Seed Vision Session” will allow attendees to discuss what they want and don’t want in their neighborhood. For more information contact Weed and Seed coordinator Mary H. Alexander at 392-2578 or

Central Pastor Installation Service Set

• KINGSPORT — The Rev. Ricardo Francois Dorcean has been called to serve as pastor of Central Baptist Church, 301 Carver St. Pastoral installation services for Dorcean and his wife, the former Chaka Akida Rollins, will be held next weekend.
The First Lady’s Night service begins at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 28, followed by worship at 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 30, and the installation ceremony at 4 p.m., Aug. 30.

. Dorcean, a native of East Orange, N.J., received a bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy from Virginia Union University, Richmond, where he served as president of the Baptist Student Union, the Christian Club, and the Virginia Union University Concert and Gospel Choir. He attended Ebenezer Baptist Church serving in many capacities and was licensed to gospel ministry there in November 2003. He received a master of divinity degree in May 2006 from the Samuel DeWitt School of Theology at Virginia Union in May 2006. During that time he served as associate minister and assistant youth minister at St. James Baptist Church near Richmond. In May 2008, he joined Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Washington, D.C., serving as associate minister and singles ministry director. He was ordained there on June 27, 2009. Dorcean is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, the American Baptist Churches USA, the Hampton Ministers’ Conference and Musicians’ Guild, the Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Richmond and Vicinity, and the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Congratulations State Champs!

Buzzy Love's Basketball Team, Ages 55-60 competed in the Senior Olympics Basketball Tournament in Franklin, Tennessee on July 22nd & 23rd, 2009.

They WON the State Tournament!

Congratulations to Team Members (left to right):
Keith Bowers #10
Ken Farmer #55
Charles Love (Buzzy) #15
George Bristol #22
James Henry (Moose) #22

Sunday, August 16, 2009

DEFY-ing the Odds: Celebrate the Graduates!


Students line up Saturday to receive their certificates as they graduate from Phase I of the Drug Education for Youth Program (DEFY) and Leadership Training sponsored by South Central Kingsport Development Inc., Kingsport Community Foundation, Weed and Seed and DEFY Mentors. Click 2009 DEFY Kids Graduation to see video from the Times-News of the happy occasion.

Mary Alexander, coordinator of Weed and Seed, presented certificates to the 24 graduates while Mike Stice, green shirt, chairman of the Kingsport Community Foundation, Fred Walling, orange shirt, former chairman of the Kingsport Community Foundation, Louetta S. Hall, chairman of South Central Kingsport Development, and Johnnie Mae Swagerty, New Vision youth director and board member of Weed and Seed were on hand.

The DEFY Kids' Field Trip this year was to the Green McAdoo Cultural Museum in Clinton, Tennessee, where they learned about the Civil Rights Movement. Your Douglass website reporter was there, and the stories are below.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Clinton 12 --- The History

The Desegregation of Clinton Senior High School: Trial and Triumph
By Clinton Beauchamp and Amanda Turner



TO SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE CENTER, CLICK ON The Clinton 12 Exhibit, Clinton, Tennessee.

In the early 1950s, Clinton, Tennessee, was the epitome of a typical southern small town--quiet, friendly, simple.

And segregated.

In 1956, however, violence over the desegregation of Clinton High School would rock this town to the core and leave an important legacy for years to come.

The trials began with a groundbreaking lawsuit, McSwain v. Anderson County. In 1950, five Negro children and their parents, backed by the NAACP, filed suit against the Anderson County Board of Education to gain entrance into Clinton High School. At that time, the law of Anderson County and the law of the State of Tennessee not only allowed but also required segregation in State high schools, and Negro students in Clinton were designated to attend either Rockwood High School in Rockwood or Austin High School in Knoxville. Presiding Judge Robert L. Taylor of the Federal District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee, dismissed the case on the grounds that Anderson County was providing equal or better educational facilities to the Negro students. The decision was appealed but was suspended pending a decision by the Supreme Court in the historic Brown v. Board of Education case. On January 4, 1956, the final decree issued by Judge Taylor was "...that in Anderson County, as to high school students, segregation be ended by not later than the fall term of 1956."

The faculty and staff of Clinton High School began preparing for integration. For instance, students were assigned papers on the coming integration and involved in numerous class discussions. In addition, news of the school's impending integration was circulated in the local newspaper The Clinton Courier and announced at school assemblies and town meetings. A Clinton High student at that time, Jerry Shattuck, believes, "...the student body and the town of Clinton was pretty well aware of and prepared to accept the desegregation; I don't think they necessarily supported it, but, nevertheless, it was the law of the land and we were going to abide by it." Things progressed relatively smoothly throughout the summer.

On registration day, the 12 Negro students to attend Clinton High School signed up for classes with no trouble. It seemed that the integration might be implemented without any trouble, but the weekend before school was to begin, John Kasper came to town. Kasper was an ardent segregationist and leader of his own group, the White Citizens Council. He came into town and began to "stir up trouble." Kasper clearly stated his views on segregation in an article, "Segregation or Death" (Virginia Spectator, May, 1959), in which he stated, "The only defect with segregation as a national policy, as a policy of the government, is that it does not go far enough." Kasper would play a pivotal role in causing the problems in Clinton over the next few months and would be arrested several times.

With the stage thus set, on Monday, August 26, 1956, Clinton High School made history by becoming the first public high school in the South to desegregate. On the first day of school, Kasper and a few other citizens he recruited to his cause began picketing outside the school but were quickly disbanded. According to Mr. Shattuck, "They were gone in five minutes because they were embarrassed: it was sort of an unnatural activity carrying pickets here in a small town like this. Nevertheless, there was a big press contingent here that morning, so, by the time the afternoon newspapers came out or the evening television shows came on, it was all about this big protest in Clinton, Tennessee, over desegregation. Well, the great protest was five people carrying signs for five minutes; but, in my opinion, the press misrepresented what happened. The next morning, there were 15 people carrying pickets." The numbers kept increasing, and, by Thursday, the town was inundated with hundreds of outsiders "going up and down the streets and generally raising Cain." It soon became apparent that Clinton's two-man police force was woefully inadequate for the task at hand, so Mayor Lewallen was forced to organize a home guard of deputized citizens to supplement the police force and attempt to restore order to the town.

The guard was also placed at the homes of prominent citizens who had been threatened by segregationists. Despite all this turmoil outside, classes went on relatively normally inside the school. The atmosphere within the school environment at this time varies depending on whom you ask. Alfred Williams, a Negro student who attended the school during this time, says that there was a significant amount of harassment from the white students. "You couldn't possibly get anything learned or done, because you were constantly afraid that the white kid next to you was planningto kill you." Mr. Williams was eventually expelled after pulling a knife on a group of white students that were threatening to kill his brother, Charles.

However, Mr. Shattuck, a senior and captain of the football team and Student Council President at that time, disagrees with Williams, "No, actually the black students weren't harassed that much. They got to school without incident, because they came in the back of the school, and the mob was in the front...Once inside the school, they faced no harassment, neither was there any welcoming with open arms. Except in November, when Kasper came back to town and organized the Junior White Citizens Council, and then it was petty stuff like ink in lockers, tacks in seats, jostling in the hallway, and that sort of thing. But, the football team stationed itself at the hall corners, and we put a stop to that real quick.... We felt that this was the law of the land, and we were going to abide by it." Bobby Cain, Clinton's first Negro graduate, agrees with Shattuck thatthere wasn't any overt hostility, and he says, "I did manage to make a few friends." Despite the mostly peaceful atmosphere inside the school, problems continued to mount in town.

Friday, August 31 was the night of the big football rivalry game against Lake City. That night, even more cars poured into Clinton to see the game. Rumor spread that the segregationist groups were planning a cross-burning rally on the field at halftime. Although nothing happened at the game that night, the next night, Saturday night, was the night the State troopers and the National Guard were called into Clinton.

It started when a mob in the square in front of the Clinton courthouse got out of hand. The home guard, which had been inside the courthouse, began marching across the square in a line. It was then that the historic picture of the guard shown in newspapers and magazines across the country was taken. The guard was forced back into the courthouse by gunfire, and they called the governor. At that point it was decided that things were so out of hand that the State troopers were to be sent into the town. The story goes this way. Nearly 100 cars came over the bridge into town--with sirens blaring, they pulled up to the mob that had assembled between the courthouse and Hoskins, the local drugstore and soda fountain. Out of the lead, car climbed the six foot eight inch figure of Greg O'Rear, the head of the Highway Patrol, with a double-barreled shotgun slung over his shoulder. The story continues, that he stepped out and said to the assembled mob, "Alright, boys, it's all over." And, it was. The next day, the National Guard relieved the Highway Patrol and, from then through the end of September, policed Clinton.

The last major violent incident was on December 4, 1956, when the town held municipal elections. The White Citizens Council had put up a candidate for mayor who vowed to restore segregation if elected. On that day, three white citizens of Clinton decided to ensure that the Negro students going to Clinton High School arrived safely. Rev. Paul Turner, Sidney Davis, and Leo Burnett walked to the top of the hill and escorted ten of the 12 Negro students down the hill to the school. They got to the school safely, and, after the students went inside, the three men went their separate ways. However, when Rev. Turner turned to go to his church, First Baptist Church of Clinton, he was assaulted by a group of White Citizens Council members. While an elderly lady from a local flower shop managed to run the men off, Turner was, nevertheless, severely beaten. Although members of the White Citizens Council meant to scare citizens into supporting their candidate, he was soundly defeated.

Because of the assault on the Rev. Turner and numerous other incidents--including an attempt to enter the school where a student intervened to save Turner's wife, a Home Economics teacher, was saved from injury--Principal Brittain decided, that in the interest of the students' safety, he needed to act. So, the same day as the Reverend's attack, Brittain closed the school exactly two years after the Tennessee Supreme Court found segregation in education to be unconstitutional in Tennessee schools. Many of the seniors were terrified that they would be unable to graduate that year. "We could just see our senior year flying away," remarked one student. However, the violence could not hold Clinton High School down for long, and on December 10, six days after closing, the school was reopened.

Things remained quiet, and at the end of that year, Bobby Cain, the first Negro graduate of a desegregated public high school in the South, became a national news event. Members of the press from around the country attempted to talk to him. According to Jerry Shattuck, "Some of the senior boys got together and shielded him from the press that was trying to mob him." However, Mr. Cain's friend, Alfred Williams, remembers the event differently. "The night he graduated, they cut the lights out on him and hit him, then turned the lights back on. He never did find out who did it." After that year, major efforts by the segregationists in Clinton wound down. They felt that if one student could graduate, then more would follow, and indeed they did.

Principal Brittain resigned in the Spring of 1957. He and his wife had received countless threatening letters since the beginning of the school year and near constant harassment. A slight man of a 130 pounds, he lost 14 pounds, and had his life threatened no less than a dozen times during the school year. Earlier in the year, he had asked the student body to vote on whether or not they wanted him to resign; a similar ballot was taken home to the parents, and, except for six dissenting votes, the overwhelming majority believed that Brittain was doing a fine job and wanted him to remain. Nevertheless, by spring he had had enough and felt that it was time for him to resign. The problems had also taken their toll on the faculty of the high school.

By the beginning of the 1957-1958 school year, only seven of the school's teachers returned. Among them was Juanita Moser, who served as assistant principal and was a teacher. With a new principal, Mr. W.D. Human, school continued peacefully for the remainder of the year. It appeared to many that the worst was over, and that they had weathered the storm.

Two years later on Sunday, October 5, 1958, the peace of Clinton High School was once again shattered, this time by explosives. An estimated 75 to 100 sticks of dynamite ripped through the high school building in three successive blasts in the early morning hours. While the majority of the school was destroyed, no one was injured because the explosion's timing. The gym and the upper section of the school remained intact, but the rest of the building was in shambles with scarcely one stone remaining upon another. To this day, despite a Federal investigation, no one knows who was responsible for the bombing. To many, though, that really doesn't matter.

In the eyes of many people, the real story of the bombing and Clinton High School's integration is a story of a people united to preserve the peace and decency of a small town. Within three days of the bombing, Clinton High School students were attending classes in a borrowed school. Clinton High was moved seven miles away to the abandoned Linden Elementary School, which was donated by the Atomic Energy Commission, in Oak Ridge. While the old high school was salvaged for anything savable and, for the two years it took to complete the new Clinton High School building in 1960, students did their best to receive an education despite having to use chairs made for ten-year-olds and undersized lockers. Even the old rivalry of Clinton and Oak Ridge was put aside, and Clinton students arrived on their first day at Linden to the sounds of music from the Oak Ridge High School Marching Band.

Many people view the integration of Clinton High School as a success story. Although some may debate this view, most Clintonians will agree that it was successful. As Jerry Shattuck puts it, "The people in Clinton themselves made it happen. They needed help from the State, and they got it, and, later on, they needed help from the Federal marshals, and they got it, but nowhere else [in the country], in my opinion, did the people let it be known through their actions what their will was. And their will was not a commitment to integration. It was a commitment to ‘This is our decent, civilized little town, and we're going to obey the law of the land and not let it be messed up.' I think that this is the real success of the story."


Maurice Soles
Anna Theresser Caswell
Alfred Williams
Regina Turner Smith
Gail Ann Epps Upton
Ronald Gordon "Poochie" Hayden
JoAnn Crozier Allen Boyce
Robert Thacker
Bobby Cain
Minnie Ann Dickey Jones
Alvah McSwain

(865) 463-6500

Kingsport's DEFY Kids Visit the Clinton 12 Experience

"It's scary."

"I don't see why they bombed the school."

"It was a dumb thing to do.. they didn't hurt anybody."

Riverview and South Central Kingsport children taking part in the DEFY (Drug Enforcement for Youth) program, are appalled by the treatment of children in 1950's Clinton, Tennessee. In June, they took a field trip to the Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton, home of the museum that honors the determination and spirit of 12 students who themselves "defied" the odds of attending Clinton's all-white school in 1957.

To see pictures of the children's experience, please click DEFY Kids Visit the Clinton 12 Experience.

"Our kids don't understand yet the price that has been paid, so they can be educated in the best schools possible," says Mary Alexander with Kingsport's Weed & Seed program, co-sponsor of the DEFY program. "This trip is important, because the kids are having a natural reaction to the things they see in the exhibits. They cannot imagine that in a city as small as Clinton, Tennessee, there were EIGHT bombings to prevent integration. They tend to take their education and freedom of movement and justice for granted, because they don't know anything else. This exhibit shows them the price that was paid, for something they take for granted."

Parents of black students attending the Green McAdoo School had asked for years that their kids be allowed to attend the closer Clinton High School, instead of being bussed all the way to Austin High School in Knoxville, 35 miles away. After BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION, integration in Clinton and Anderson County seemed a certainty, until the community was roused into a rage by segregationists, who came to town and stirred the locals into a racial frenzy. The Clinton High School was bombed, not so much in an effort to keep blacks out, as to make a racial statement. Eventually, 12 brave African-Americans journeyed down the hill from the Green McAdoo School, and were able to attend the Clinton High School, but not without a cultural price.

"It's not surprising the DEFY students can't imagine that people would blow up a high school to keep black people from coming inside it," says Mrs. Alexander. "When I told them the word 'bombings,' they said, 'what do you mean, bombings?' I said 'BOMBINGS, blow things up.' They said 'what?' That is just so removed from them. History must be taught, so they can understand the price paid..that's why Jews teach the Holocaust, Native Americans teach the Wild West. African-Americans must teach the Civil Rights Movement, so that our children can look at it and believe 'something about that just wasn't right.'

That sentiment is echoed by Marilyn Hayden, the director of the Green McAdoo Cultural Center. 51 years ago, her brother Ronald was one of the Clinton 12.

"Less than 10 years after my brother Ronald took those historic steps along with his 11 classmates, he passed away," says Ms. Hayden. "In 1966, I was only a youngster and he was gone. I wasn't able to ask him what he went through..I never knew the enormity of that time and what they accomplished until I got older. He wasn't here for me to ask him, so I've had to rely on the history books and the teachings of the elders to understand how brave they all were."

Ms. Hayden went on.. "we have kids up here all the time at the museum just these from Kingsport, wanting to talk about integration, segregation, racism. They have no idea what it is, but they want to learn about it."

"When the kids hear about the (Ku Klux) Klan or something about a black person having been beaten to death generations ago just because they were black," says Mrs. Alexander, "we want them to think to themselves 'well why would people do that?' Right now, they may not know where that comes from. If they don't know about it, history has failed them."

"These kids can't imagine that in a town as small as Clinton, Tennessee, 8 bombings happened to keep black students from attending the white schools," Mrs. Alexander says.

"If these kids get nothing else from this visit," she says, "they will learn that 'I myself decide what is right..I will set my own standards, regardless of what is happening around me.

"If we don't teach them anything else, if they can learn that... they'll be all right."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Ebony Club Alumni Association: The Next Big Event!

THE NEXT BIG EVENT: Talent and Fashion Show

A message to all members of Ebony Club Alumni Association

Stay tuned for news about a conference call for our next big event, Ebony Club Talent and Fashion Show. If things go according to plan, meaning we have enough hands on deck, we will be holding this event in February 2010. We just have to work out the logistics, and develop a core group of individuals in Kingsport to structure and coordinate the effort.

Jeff "Pac-Man" Faulkerson
DBHS Class of 1986
(919) 604-4585

Visit Ebony Club Alumni Association by clicking the link at top left

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

V.O. Dobbins Center: TWO Community Rooms, Instead of One

There will definitely be community space in the newly-renovated V.O. Dobbins Center in Kingsport.

But make that that TWO community rooms, instead of one.

Chris McCartt, Kingsport's Assistant City Manager for Development says, a recent Kingsport Times-News article on August 3rd, left the impression that only one Community Room is being built.

"We are indeed planning to build a Community Room for the residents of the new HOPE VI homes in Riverview," sqays Mr. McCartt. "That is definite. We have been planning that one, because every public housing complex in the city has a Community Room for meetings, gatherings and events like weddings, birthday parties and reunions."

That one will be located in the area just off the old Douglass Gym, in the ballfield where baseball was played. Bulldozers and front-end loaders have been dredging that area for several weeks, replacing the soft dirt with the shale and clay necessary to support a heavy structure.

But it's not the only large meeting room going in.

The original Douglass Community Room will be built where first-floor classrooms already are, that will be renovated and walls taken out. The Douglass Alumni Association headquarters and offices will be located just off that Community Room.

"That particular room will be available for board meetings of the Alumni Association, the United Way, and the other organizations in the adjacent non-profit tower. That community room can also accomodate neighborhood events and other meetings, as designated by the city."

Both Community Rooms will be the same size, about 8,900 square feet. The HOPE VI-KHRA Community Room is being built from the ground up, at a cost of $1 million dollars. Cost of the Douglass Community Room is built into the original $8 million dollar cost of renovating the whole building, and will cost considerably less, as the space for that particular room is already enclosed.

For the HOPE VI-KHRA Community Room, "first right of use refusal will be for the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority," says Mr. McCartt, "which will also have various offices there, much like the big rooms at Robert E. Lee and Cloud Apartments. If you remember, the old Riverview Apartments Community Room was in the old Carver Library, to the left as you entered the front door.

"The Douglass Community Room will be much more personal," he says, "as it will contain memorabilia and mementoes from Douglass High School and the Riverview Community. It will house a custom-made display case for those, and also a trophy case that is being specially designed right now, to hold the Douglass athletic trophies."

Mr. McCartt says, the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department, who will also have offices in the the renovated building, will handle the booking and renting of that Community Room, outside of meetings and events of the non-profit agencies.

"One thing we do not have a lot of in Kingsport," he says, "is meeting space. I think this type of facility will meet some of that demand in terms of two Community Rooms of moderately large size that the city needs."