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Monday, September 18, 2023

Come to the Douglass Alumni/New Vision Youth Car Show! Volunteers Needed!

We need volunteers from the Douglass community and the Riverview community to help us for a few hours with crowd control and helping us direct visitors on site at the car show. This is the first time the Riverview community has ever been involved in a car show. Please contact either Calvin at or Johnnie Mae at 423-429-7553 to help make this fundraiser a success.
The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association and the New Vision Youth of Kingsport will hold a Car Show on Saturday, October 14, 2023 in downtown Kingsport from 10 AM to 3 PM. The location is the Cherokee Street Parking lot, 175 Cherokee Street, Kingsport. Owners of every classic vehicle from restored antiques to 50's, 60's and 70's muscle cars, to your granddaddy's Olds Cutlass to Uncle Henry's Buick, to Aunt Martha's Studebaker, to your great-granddaddy's Model T, to your brother's 4 x 4 are invited to display those marvelous machines. All vehicles are welcome!
It costs $20 to display your vehicle, and general admission for the public is $10 dollars for adults, kids under 10 are free. Trophies and plaques will be presented to the Top 3 Best of Show, Kids Favorite, Best in Top 25, along with Best Import, Best Ford, GMC, Chrysler-Dodge, and Best Hot Rod.
This is the place where classic meets custom! There will also be a 50/50 Raffle, food vendors and various giveaways. Rain date will be Saturday, October 21st. Bring the family to buckle up and enjoy the ride! Proceeds benefit the programs of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association and the New Vision Youth Group. For more information, contact Calvin Sneed at or Johnnie Mae Swagerty at 423-429-7553 or

Monday, September 4, 2023

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Meeting this coming Saturday

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association will have its regularly scheduled Board meeting this coming Saturday, September 9, 2023.

The meeting will be at 1 PM, in the Eastman Board Room on the second floor of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex Tower, 301 Louis Street in Kingsport.

Please spread the word.

---Douglas Releford, president

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association, Kingsport

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Sons & Daughters of Douglass - New Vision Youth CAR SHOW!


No matter where you are in the Tri-Cities or upper East Tennessee-Southwest Virginia, come show off your restored or tricked-out ride at the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni-New Vision Youth Car Show on Saturday, October 14, 2023 (rain date Saturday, October 21st).  

Everybody is invited to come out and look at the cars and trucks.. the time is from 10 AM to 3 PM.

All vehicles are welcome!

The admission is $10 for adult general admission, children under 10 are free.  It only costs $20 to display your vehicle in the show.

The 1st Place Trophy of the Top 3:

The 2nd Place and 3rd Place Trophies of the Top 3:

Even the kids get to pick their 1st Place favorite vehicles:

Winners for specific vehicle brands will also get awards: Best Hot Rod, Best GM, Best Ford, Best Chrysler-Dodge, Best Import, Best GMC.  All of the vehicle owner-entrants get a recognition:

The location is 175 Cherokee Street in downtown Kingsport.. it's in the parking lot beside Bellafina's Chocolates on Cherokee Street, in the back of Kingsport Armature on Market Street, and across from the old Rascals Club on Cumberland Street.  

Food trucks will also be on site; also other audience participation events will be going on.

Proceeds will go to fund programs of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association and the New Vision Youth.  This is the first time that both organizations have partnered to put on a car show... please show your support by coming out.  

We hear them cars in the neighborhood all the time.. come on out and finally see them on display LOL!

Also, we need VOLUNTEERS to help us set up the event, maintain the grounds, then tear down at the end.  The Douglass Alumni and the New Vision Youth Group need your help and support.  We thank you for your participation in this "first of a kind" endeavor.

Questions?  Email:

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Icey Belle!


The Riverview community has its newest centenarian!

Happy 100th birthday to Mrs. Icey Belle Jones, who has just celebrated a century of God's Grace on earth.

Her birthday was celebrated by all of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Betti Jean Dunn remembrance


We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our mother, Ms. Betti Jean Dunn.  She passed away peacefully, at the age of 69, in her Kingsport, Tennessee home. 

Betti is survived by her sister, Mrs. Alfreda Wilson; sons Behm-Azis Dunn, and wife Tiffany, N'Kobi Dunn, and wife Sara and Rashid Dunn, and wife Jennifer; 4 nieces, Curshina, Kanjuette, Aisha, and Taneshia; 14 grandchildren; and numerous cousins. 

What our mother loved most was spending time with friends & family, traveling, and tending to her many flowers.  Gladiolus were her favorite.

To honor Betti Jean's memory the family is holding a Celebration of Life service on Sunday, August 6, 2023, at Clark Funeral Chapel & Cremation Service, 802-806 E. Sevier Ave. Kingsport, Tennessee, from 2 pm until 3 pm.  

We invite anyone who may have shared a laugh, hug, or smile with our dear mother to attend and remember her wonderful life.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

James W. "Jimmy" Deal, Jr. remembrance


It is with sadness that we announce the transition of James W. “Jimmy” Deal, Jr, 82 of Kingsport, who entered eternal rest on Monday, August 7, 2023.

 Jimmy was a graduate of Douglass High School, Kingsport.  He served his country in the US Air Force and after returning he married his high school sweetheart and they were happily married for 59 years.  He was an electrician at Domtar for 55 years before his retirement in 2020.

Jimmy was a devoted father and grandfather and loved to visit his children and grandchildren in Nashville.  He was a DB football fan and loved the Tennessee Titans.  You could find him every Saturday morning picking up breakfast at Bojangles.  Jimmy attended many music events in the Tri-Cities.

He was preceded in death by his parents, James W. Deal, Sr. and Lillian Long “Roberta” Deal; sister, L. Yvonne Deal; son, James “Trippy” Deal; grandsons, Terrence and Liam Deal.

Survivors include his loving wife, Athenia “Tina” Deal of the home; children, Ingrid Rogers, Nikki (Steven) Lawson, Kip (Davita) Deal, Torre (Malasya) Deal and Dustin Deal; sister, Charlyne Edwards; 17 grandchildren; 8 great-grandchildren; aunt, Helen Bunting; sister-in-law, Luvinia Yarborough; uncle, Willard C. Long, Sr.; along with a host of nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends from 12:30 until 1:30 pm on Saturday, August 12, 2023 at Central Baptist Church located at 301 Carver Street, Kingsport, Tennessee 37660.  A funeral service will follow with Pastor Perry Stuckey officiating. 

A military graveside service will follow at Oak Hill Memorial Park with honors conducted by American Legion Hammond Post #3/265.  Pallbearers will be William Carpenter, James Henry, Scotty Edwards, Zach Casey, Jason Robertson, Jason Maxwell, and Lester Bailey.

The family would like to extend a special thank you to the ICU nurses at Holston Valley Hospital, Zach Casey, Kelsey and Carla Casey, and Dot Wilmer for their loving care.

It is in dying that we are born into eternal life-St. Francis of Assisi.

Carter-Trent Funeral Home downtown, Kingsport is serving the Deal family.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Ethel Ruth Russell remembrance


Ethel Ruth Russell was born May 11, 1934, to Corinne Johnson in Kingsport, Tennessee.  From a young age she was cared for by Florida “Mamaw” Lyle.

Ethel Ruth graduated from Douglass High School and played basketball for the Douglass Tigerettes.  After graduating high school, Ethel Ruth worked for many establishments.  She would go on to retire from Eastman Chemical Company after 38 years of service.

Ethel Ruth served on the Sons and Daughters of Douglas Alumni Board for many years and was a member of the Daughters of Elks Dunbar Temple #344.

Ethel Ruth accepted Christ as her Savior at a young age.  She was a member of St. Mark Methodist Church in Kingsport, where she loved to sing in the choir and serve.

 In her leisure time, she enjoyed cooking for her family and church and spending time with those she loved.

Ethel Ruth departed this side of life on Friday, July 28, 2023.  She was preceded in death by her mother, Corinne Johnson; adopted mother, Florida Phipps "Mamaw" Lyle; brothers, Charles Lyle, Willie B. Lyle, and John Henry Lyle Jr.; sisters, Helen Underwood Fain, Shirley Liggette, and Vada Watterson; very special friend, Mr. Ray Leeper; and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.

To cherish her memories, Ethel Ruth leaves her loving children, Sherry Lynn Russell, Robin Nadine Russell, Teresa Diane Russell, and Wendell Scott (Gladys) Russell; grandchildren, Dion Russell, Koran Willis, Yerusha Dujon, Esther Rodolphe, Jesse Dujon, and Zion Dujon; great-grandchildren, Briasha Russell, King Russell, Prince Russell, Kingston Neale, Keenan, Ben, Eli Phillips, Bianca Russell, Aniya Stidhil, S. Cornett, Ny’zareyah Rodolphe, Da’Kari Dixon, Diy’lon Dixon, and Autumn Willis; special niece, Doris Calloway; one great-great-grandchild; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

The family would like to extend a special thanks to close family and friends, Francis Hankins, Gladys Gambrell, Jane Goodwin, Ethel Skaggs, Monique Henry, Alicia and Damya Camp, William Odem, Judy Blye, the Mabry family, the Carnes family, Jennifer Calloway, her St. Mark United Methodist Church family, and her healthcare providers.

Professional care of Ms. Ethel Ruth Russell and family are entrusted to Clark Funeral Chapel and Cremation Service, Inc., (423) 245-4971.

"Cement Hill... the City on a Hill"; In Memory of Mrs. Ethel Ruth Russell

In memory of Mrs. Ethel Ruth Russell, who passed away back on Friday, July 28th, 2023, we are repeating the article below on her life growing up on Cement Hill beside Riverview.  The article written by your website host, first appeared on the Douglass website, on January 17th, 2014.  "Miss Ethel Ruth" was a longtime Kingsport resident, Eastman employee, Riverview resident, Douglass graduate, Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association board member, and everybody's favorite cook: 


By Calvin Sneed


"The houses on Cement Hill were not shanties.. they were just houses like anybody else's."

Looking at Cement Hill from downtown Kingsport, you would not have known there were many homes on the hill's summitt. That's because former Cement Hill resident Ethel Ruth Russell says, none of the houses faced downtown.

"There were homes on the top of the hill, but not in the front of it facing downtown," she says. "I guess they (the city) figured it would make the downtown look bad, so they didn't let them build houses on the town side. They were all on the back side.

Mrs. Russell was born in Kingsport, and lived on Cement Hill until she was 11 or 12 years old. She admits to not remembering a whole lot about "life on the hill" that early.  She does say the homes were nice and comfortable, even though they were close together, and everybody "had it pretty easy."


Most of the homes on Cement Hill in the 1930's and 40's, Mrs. Russell says, were on the south side facing the Holston River and the railroad track and bridges connecting Tennessee Eastman with the Holston Army Ammunition plant. There was no Industry Drive, she remembers.. only a narrow dirt road at the base of the hill that really didn't go anywhere, but it had hog pens, vegetable gardens and storage areas.

"Most of our neighbors were black families," she says. "There were maybe 2 or 3 white families, but there were more blacks than whites. Most of the black families were all from South Carolina that came to work in Kingsport. At my house, it was me, my grandfather Reed Alexander, my mother Corrine, and my uncle June in our little house."


Mrs. Russell says, everybody who lived on Cement Hill, worked for the nearby Penn-Dixie Cement Plant, which owned the land on the hill. Of course, this is not surprising in Kingsport. The homes of Borden Village were built to house the workers of the nearby Borden Mills Plant.. the homes of Fort Robinson and West View Park housed workers for the downtown Mead Paper plant and the Kingsport Press.. and although Tennessee Eastman workers were scattered throughout the city, Green Acres, Litz Manor, Greenfields, Fair Acres, Ridgefields tended to get more concentrated populations of Eastman workers.

But many Penn-Dixie Cement workers had the convenience of living in homes, on land owned by their company that was very nearby. Mrs. Russell says, the only person who lived on Cement Hill, but did not work at Penn-Dixie was Eddie Ervin. He was the mail carrier.

FIRST GRADE ROSTER:  Some students who
lived on Cement Hill, others in the new Riverview Apartments

Family was important, living that close together on Cement Hill. Apparently, just like in the Riverview Community that had just been started just next door, Cement Hill was one big family. "Our next door neighbors were the Rays, Henry Ray, Ronnie Ray -- they called him 'Chicken' Ray," says Mrs. Russell. "The McClintocks also lived there on the side of the hill. Levenus and them all lived there, because Uncle Edgar had a job at the cement plant, too."

She says, when she was born, her family had arrived from Woodruff, South Carolina just a little while earlier. Her grandfather also came to work for Penn-Dixie Cement.

"My grandfather Reed Alexander, was a well-respected man," she says. "I always called him 'Pap.' I used to roll his cigarettes with this little machine he had. He never called me Ethel or Ruth, he called me 'Daughter' even though I was his granddaughter. In the house with us, was my uncle June and my mom Corrine. I did not know my grandmother much.. I was only about 2 or 3 years old, but I been told that I was the best-dressed little girl around. She belonged to the Holiness Church and I would go with her and I was dressed nice from head to toe. My uncle June also dressed nice.. a sharp dressed man. He used to shine shoes at Jason Taylor's hat shop."


Mrs. Russell does not remember a lot of cars around Cement Hill, but she does remember a foot bridge between the hill and downtown Kingsport. "Scared to death of it," she laughs. "I used to crawl under the trains, just to keep from walking that bridge. It was too high up, I guess, but I sure didn't like to cross the tracks on it. I guess I was too young to know that it was probably fine to use it, but I saw it the first time and I hated it. They couldn't have dragged me across it. Eveyrbody else used it, though, going back and forth to downtown."


Mrs. Russell attended Douglass Elementary School, when it was "up on East Walnut Avenue and the Bristol Highway (the corner is now East Sevier Avenue and East Center Street), and sometimes I would just walk to school from home. Other times, I would just call a Gilliam's Cab. Pap had an account with Gilliam's, and whenever I need one, it was right there. Gilliam's came in handy too, when I started going over to Riverview from home. Me and Janie Goodwin became good friends because we were in the same grade, and I started spending the night with her and her mother and Miss Bly. When I started coming over, the last memories I had of Cement Hill, was staying with Florida Lytle. She lived in Riverview Apartments #46. Since I was 11 years old, I would come over and stay with her because I was best friends with Janie."


Many people knew that African-Americans lived on Cement Hill, but nobody had heard about what life was like there. Peaceful... calm... but what was the history of Cement Hill before anybody lived on it? Oddly enough.. it shares the same form of history as its successor, Riverview.

"The top part where you went to observe and take pictures from, Calvin" says out-going Kingsport City Manager John Campbell, "was pretty much a covered landfill. In fact, there are 3 landfills that Domtar has to monitor on a regular basis, and that would pretty prohibit any future development up there, except a passive recreation area. That's where we feel the future lies for Cement Hill."


He says, the idyllic life like Mrs. Russell and her neighbors lived would not be possible on the Cement Hill of today.

Campbell says, the Kingsport Leadership Group had developed some creative plans for putting housing on Cement Hill, but he says he's pretty sure that Domtar, the current owner of the property would ban that because of the landfill monitoring. "Some people say there's a lot of bad stuff in those landfills, but we (the city) doesn't know of anything other than routine, general miscellaneous materials that go into landfills," he says. "They are clearly marked, and they have been monitored in TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conversation) files. We have look through those files, and that's why we are looking at passive trails because with that, you can work around most landfill issues."


When the ballfields are built on the General Shale site, Campbell says, the athletic theme would fit in nicely with Cement Hill.

"We actually have some money set aside to purchase Cement Hill at what we think is a reasonable price," he says, "although we're not sure Domtar thinks it's reasonable. There's also money set aside to do a master plan. Our vision has been for the past two years is a passive recreation area for the most part, with walking trails and mountain biking trails. The idea of taking advantage of the views with some picnic shelters and overlooks is a good one. Also, planting trees in certain ways that would look good in artwork, even a waterfall there at the train station, have been talked about."

"The idea of developing Cement Hill, in conjunction with the new ballfields is a good one," Campbell says, "and it's definitely an idea we're considering."


"I wouldn't mind seeing the history of Cement Hill preserved in any development they build," says former resident Ethel Ruth Russell. "I've never really thought about going back up there, other than just passing by on Industry Drive. Every time I do, I think about the gardens, the nice homes, and of course the hogpens."

"There's not too much to look at now, except a bare hill. Maybe that will change back to the nice area I knew, growing up."


Annual Community Cookoff Cookout announcement


Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Kingsport City Hall Board Room Named


                  Montgomery-Watterson Board                            Room Dedication

Named for Kingsport Mayor Ruth C. Montgomery and Vice Mayor Richard Watterson, their families attended an unveiling celebration at City Hall on Tuesday evening, August 1, 2023, to rename the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Boardroom to the Montgomery-Watterson Board Room.

A plaque hangs in the board room, detailing their dedicated public service endeavors.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Riverview Youth Outreach & Family Picnic


Sunday, July 9, 2023

Edward (Eddie) Eugene Long remembrance


Mr. Edward Eugene Long, beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, passed away on July 2, 2023, at his home in Kingsport, TN with his wife, Mrs. Frances Fleming Long, and granddaughter, Ms. Alyshia Long, by his side, after a courageous ten-year battle with cancer.  He leaves behind a legacy of strength, perseverance, and a profound love for his family.

                           Eddie Long, Douglass Junior Class, 1957

Edward was born and raised in Kingsport, TN, and graduated from Douglass High School, where he excelled both academically and athletically.  

                        Douglass High School Football Team, 1958

He was a multi-sport athlete, lettering in football, basketball, and baseball, while also maintaining an exceptional academic record.

  After high school, Edward proudly served his country as a member of the U.S. Army in the 52nd Medical Battalion, 226 Medical Company.  During his military service, he was stationed in Germany and later at Fort Liberty (formerly known as Fort Bragg) in North Carolina.

Following serving his country in the U.S. Army, Edward embarked on a fulfilling career at Eastman Kodak Company, where he dedicated his skills as the Lead Machinist.  After many years of service, he retired, leaving behind a lasting impact on his colleagues and the company.

Edward’s passion extended far beyond his professional life.  He dedicated himself to the betterment of his community and the youth within it.  He coached at the Kingsport Boys Club and received the esteemed recognition of “Coach of the Year.”  Additionally, he served as the President of the Kingsport Youth Soccer Association, playing a pivotal role in fostering the love of the sport amount the younger generation.

Education was of paramount importance to Edward, and he took pride in earning his Associate’s degree from Northeast State Community College.  He cherished knowledge and believed in the power of learning. 

Nature was Edward’s sanctuary, and he embraced the great outdoors with boundless enthusiasm.  He found joy in activities such as boating, deep-sea fishing, water skiing, hiking, cycling, and camping.  He also had a creative side, enjoying hobbies such as drawing, photography, gardening, and reading.  He also had a deep appreciation and love for music, with a particular affection for Jazz.  As the family historian, he dedicated countless hours to researching and documenting ancestry, leaving behind a precious legacy for future generations. 

Edward was predeceased by his parents, Mr. Willard C. Long Sr. and Mrs. Ressie Hoard Long; his daughter, Ms. Sonya Monique Long; and his siblings, Mrs. Roberta Long Deal (Mr. James Deal Sr.), Mr. Cecil Long, Mr. Walter Long, and Mrs. Virginia Long Cartwright (Mr. Robert Cartwright).  Edward is survived by his devoted wife, Mrs. Frances Fleming Long, who shared a deep and loving partnership with him.  He will forever be remembered as a loving father to his daughter, Ms. Pattina Long; his son, Mr. Gerald Long (Mrs. Keisha Long); devoted siblings, Mr. Willard Long (Mrs. Betty Long), and Ms. Helen Long; and brother-in-law, Mr. Harold Fleming.

His memory will also be cherished by his grandchildren, Ms. Alyshia Long (Mr. Tony Kay), Ms. Ki’Era McKinnie (Mr. Justin Derrick), Mr. Aundre’e Tre’Shon McKinnie (Mrs. Rosalie McKinnie), Mr. Jarys Long, and Mr. Weston Long.  Additionally, he leaves behind his adoring great-granddaughter, Ms. Asiah Kalyce Bell, Ms. Ava Christine Bell, and Ms. Aaliyah Jade Bell.  Edward also leaves behind his step-great-grandchildren, Jesam Estosata, JM Estosata, and Jerose Estosata.

Edward is also survived by a host of nephews, nieces, cousins, and cherished friends.  With special recognition to niece, Mrs. Kaye Cartwright Booker (Mr. William Booker), nephew, Mr. Derek Bunting, nephew, Mr. Angelo Fleming, and neighbor, Joe Stuffle.

The family would like to recognize and thank the AMEDISYS Hospice nurses for their care and compassion.

Mr. Edward Eugene Long’s impact on his family, community, and the lives he touched will forever be remembered.  He will be dearly missed but forever celebrated for his strength, kindness, and unwavering love.  The family would like to express their gratitude to all who have offered support and condolences during this difficult time.

There will be a military honors graveside service on Friday, July 14, 2023, at 3:00 pm at Mountain Home National Cemetery in Johnson City, TN.  Military honors will be provided by American Legion Post 3/265.  Those wishing to attend the graveside service are asked to meet at the cemetery at 2:45 pm.


Carter Trent Funeral Home Kingsport is serving the Long family.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Edward E. Long passing


Edward (Eddie) E. Long, 82, of Kingsport went to be with the Lord on Sunday, July 2nd, 2023.

Arrangements are incomplete and will be announced by Carter-Trent Funeral Home in Kingsport.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Note from the President


Note from Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni President Douglas Releford:

"We will not have a meeting this Saturday (July 8, 2023).

I think we all need a rest and a cooling off period."

Douglas Releford, president

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association, Inc.

Monday, July 3, 2023

Cameras helping to inform you of the weather at home


Thought you'd all like to see what the weather looks like in Kingsport, after the Douglass Reunion this past weekend.

As you can see, they've had a little rain up there in Kingsport, including Riverview.  This picture is courtesy WCYB-TV.. they, like a lot of public and private entities, have cameras trained around communities to let you all know what the weather conditions are like.  Weather cameras inform the public.

This is an earlier picture from the Kingsport City Hall, legally looking out over city and private where you can see the rain was coming down pretty good.  Luckily, the rain held off for the Reunion.  If you attended, hope you made it home safely!

Sunday, June 25, 2023

The Inspiration behind a wonderful mural by Dobyns-Bennett arts students to honor Douglass

The idea for a mural on a prominent hallway wall at D-B was a collaboration between Dobyns-Bennett High School fiber arts teacher Chris Hobbs and then-DB principal Dr. Chris Hampton.  They discussed ways of impressing the history of D-B upon their students, and in that discussion was a mention of how former African-American Douglass High School played an importantly huge role in the progression of Dobyns-Bennett.  It was then decided that a Douglass School mural for all to see in a prominent hallway at D-B would be a wonderful way of showcasing what Douglass meant to D-B's development.  Art students painted the mural in the spring of 2023 and received arts credit for the work.

In the first part of the interview with your Douglass website editor below, Hobbs talks about his discussions with Dr. Hampton on the Douglass mural.  Click PLAY to listen to that part of the interview:

In the second part of the interview below, Hobbs talks about the composition of the mural, including going on your Douglass website and researching the people and the elements of what will make the mural special, and later the Archives of Kingsport.  Click PLAY to hear the rest of the interview, which begins with a very familiar reference to Mr. Dobbins' reasons for his food garden:

And below in the next story, a picture tour of the mural.  


Honoring the Douglass Tigers: A Mural in the halls of Dobyns-Bennett High School, Kingsport, TN

Hail to the Tigers!  A mural honoring the Douglass High School Tigers, Kingsport Tennessee's former African-American high school from 1913 to 1966.  Painted by Christopher Hobbs' art class, Dobyns-Bennett High School, Spring 2023, located in the lower hallway of D-B, 1600 Legion Drive, Kingsport, Tennessee.  Click PLAY below to visit the mural:

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Douglass Alumni Board Meeting Announcement


Sorry this is late.

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board will have a specially-called meeting on Saturday, January 24, 2023.

The meeting will be in the Eastman Board Room, 2nd Floor of the V.O. Dobbins Complex Tower, 301 Louis Street, Kingsport.

The meeting begins at 1 PM.

At the meeting, board members and Douglass alumni will finalize plans for the upcoming Douglass Alumni reunion this weekend, June 30th and July 1st and 2nd.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Reflections on Juneteenth: What the celebration means for us

by Tanya Foreman, Kingsport Juneteenth 2023 Chair

June is one of my favorite months of the year. The kids are out of school for summer break, barbecue grills are firing up, swimming pools are open, and the great outdoors is calling with everything from whitewater rafting to road trips along the Tennessee mountains. Last but not least, June marks the official start of summertime.

A couple of years ago, the month of June took on a much deeper meaning, not only for me and my family, but for the entire country. In 2021, June 19 was declared a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.

It is a date that connects our nation to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, which stipulated that if the Southern states did not cease their rebellion to free enslaved people by Jan. 1, 1863, the proclamation would take effect.

However, it was not until June of 1865 that the order was delivered to Galveston, Texas, by General Gordon Granger. Texas would become the first state in the union to recognize June 19, aka Juneteenth, as a holiday in 1980. Today, all 50 states commemorate or observe Juneteenth as a day to celebrate freedom.

Freedom and liberty are now principles long synonymous with the United States of America. For centuries, these concepts have stood as beacons of hope for generations of immigrants from every corner of the globe. Many risked their lives and traded their roots for America’s promise, becoming hard-working citizens whose contributions helped make our country stronger, together.

Although we may not always agree and sometimes struggle with our differences, Juneteenth is a day to celebrate what we can all agree on — a love of freedom in the United States of America.

We encourage you and your family to come out and join us for a wonderful weekend of Juneteenth celebrations, beginning Saturday, June 17, in downtown Kingsport.

I am honored to serve as chair of the 2023 Juneteenth festivities. A proud employee of Eastman, I also serve as global chair of the Connect African American Eastman Resource Group (ERG).

It’s one of six ethnically and socially diverse ERGs at our company of 14,000 workers worldwide.

Eastman wants its efforts to promote a globally diverse workforce and inclusive work environment to extend to the communities it serves as well, by supporting events like Juneteenth. This year, Eastman is primary sponsor of festivities in partnership with the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce and other members of our business community. Together, we will honor and celebrate Juneteenth as a very important day in our nation’s history.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Kingsport Events to Celebrate Juneteenth


Here's a list of the events for Kingsport's Juneteeth festival:

Friday, June 16
Twilight Series Concert Downtown Band, 3rd Generation motown/Soul/Modern Pop

Saturday, June 17 - Juneteenth Festival

10 AM-10:45 AM - Unity Walk (meet at 10 at the Kingsport Higher Education building on Market Street)

12:00 Noon - Food trucks open
1:00 PM - Juneteenth Kickoff - Welcome by the first National Ms. Juneteenth, Saniya Gay

1:30 PM - Children's Activities - Gellyball, Corn Hole competitions

2:30 PM - Stilt Walkers/Drummers, Greek steppers

3:00 PM - Barber Shop Talk - barbers giving 40 free haircuts to 12 and under youth, while panel discusses challengers that Black people face in today's America.  Also, Fashion Show/Evolution of Black Hair and Hair Museum.

4:30 PM - Local R & B talent

5:00 PM - Tobias - Christian genre

7:00 PM - Reggae Band

This story by your website editor, courtesy the Kingsport Times-News, Thursday, June 15, 2023:


"It's all about unity."

Those words from a Kingsport African-American high school student, accurately sum up this Saturday's Juneteenth celebration.

June 19th (officially known as "Juneteenth") is America's newest federal holiday, continuing a tradition in communities of celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation.  The news reached Tennessee during the Civil War and set off many celebrations among enslaved African-Americans.  Even today, the meaning of Juneteenth is not lost on young Black people.  "It's a progression of how far we have come in history," says rising D-B sophomore Ezra Smith-Howard, "and how far we still have to go.  But Juneteenth isn't just an event for Black people... it's a time for everybody to come together and celebrate."

"Before it was declared an official federal holiday, it felt like Black people were celebrating in a vacuum," says Tanya Foreman, Kingsport Juneteenth 2023 Chair.  "It was almost like MLK Day... it meant something to Black people, but it was unconnected to the entire story in our history."

Last month, Tennessee recognized Juneteenth as a statewide holiday, and this year's festival promises a lot of events, many of them entertaining and some of them educational.  One of those, highlights barbershop talk.

"In the Black community, black barbers were referred to as Black surgeons," says Foreman.  "Black hair styling is one of the oldest crafts and industries in the world.  In the historical Black barbershop, a lot of the conversations and mentoring of young Black men took place.  On Saturday, we plan to give 40 free haircuts to kids under the age of 12 and while the barbers cut hair, they'll be taking part in a live, real-time panel discussion.  It's part of a national program highlighting barbershop talks and conversations that have proven very successful among young people.  It also includes a hair fashion show, demonstrating hairstyle evolution."

Juneteenth in Kingsport kicks off Saturday morning with a Unity Walk beginning at 10 AM at the Kingsport Higher Education Center downtown on Market Street and finishing at the Farmers Market.  Walkers will cover 1.9 miles (honoring the official federal and state holiday of June 19th).  At the main venue on Market Street, the first National Miss Juneteenth, Saniya Gay of Delaware will say a few words to begin the festival.

The barbershop talk session begins around 3 PM.  Other activities include stilt walkers, greek steppers and drummers, GellyBall and cornhole competitions for the kids, musical talent including local singers and performers highlighting gospel music, rap music, R and B and reggae music.  You'll also find food trucks, vendors, Umoja representatives from Johnson City, and "Sterl the Pearl," the popular DJ from Knoxville. 

Smith-Howard says he loves all the events, not any one more than the others.  But he loves even more, the togetherness of the festival.  "Juneteenth was a big thing in Black communities after the Emancipation Proclamation finally got to Tennessee," he says.  "I learn something new every time I go to the Juneteenth festivals and I've been to all of them in Kingsport."

As a student of history (he aims to join the U.S. Air Force after graduation from DB), Howard-Smith has read the recent news about Sullivan County commissioner Joe Carr labeling Juneteenth a "woke" holiday not worthy of recognition.  "It's pretty upsetting to know that someone with Sullivan County does not want to celebrate the end of slavery in this country," the 15-year old says.  

Carr sparked mostly outrage in the community with his comments, but Smith-Howard dismissed the commissioner's Juneteenth reaction.  "I'm not really focused on him," he says.  "He is not my priority.  He probably doesn't know about Black History.  He needs to read up and understand why Juneteenth is important to all people, not just Black people.  I will go to the event and enjoy it because I believe in the celebration of the freedom from slavery."

The Sullivan County Commission did vote 17 to 4 to make Juneteenth a countywide holiday.  Organizers hope it becomes an annual event in Kingsport.

"Eastman is proud to be a Platinum sponsor of Juneteenth in Kingsport," Foreman says.  She serves as the company's Education Initiatives Manager and Global Chair of its Connect Employee Resource Group.  "The company is trying to create a community that is more inclusive, and supporting events like Juneteenth is another opportunity to do that."  The Kingsport Chamber is another Platinum sponsor, along with Gold sponsors Ballad Health and Christ Fellowship.  The Silver sponsors are Eastman Credit Union and First Horizon, and Bronze sponsors HOPE - Help Our Potential Evolve and the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority.  The Copper sponsors are the 400 Years of African-American Commission, the Powell Valley Bank and Wheelhouse Print and Design.

"Juneteenth is a big deal," Smith-Howard says.  "Black history changed with the end of slavery.  It was a big moment back then and it's a big moment to re-live what our ancestors must have felt when somebody told them they were free.  On Saturday, we unite to have that same feeling and celebrate it."

Sullivan County Commissioner Joe Carr: "Juneteenth has nothing to do with Tennessee"

Courtesy the Kingsport Times-News, Wednesday June 14, 2023 written by Joe Carr, Sullivan County Commission, District 9:

A few weeks ago, the Sullivan County Commission added Juneteenth as a paid holiday for county employees. I objected and voted no.

Sadly, I and other commissioners who voted the same way have received threats of political violence, which is always wrong, and not just on Jan. 6 of 2021.

First, to be perfectly clear, no one supports slavery or opposes celebrating emancipation.

Slavery has been universally condemned as a great stain on our past, a sin that has been sadly common across the ages and around the world and is not unique to our continent.

While Juneteenth is indeed a celebration of freedom, for activists on the extreme far left, it is intended as a Trojan Horse for the 1619 Project, a factually discredited revisionist curriculum that woke ideologues want taught in our schools to brainwash future generations with the false claim that the American Revolution was only fought to preserve slavery.

The 1619 Project is an element of a Marxist religion called “wokeness” often associated with Critical Race Theory, a dogma that seeks to train Americans to see all “black and brown” people as helpless victims oppressed by “systemic racism,” and all Caucasians as racist oppressors due to the original sin of “white privilege,” a scarlet letter which no amount of repentance can ever atone for or wash away.

That worldview is endlessly divisive. In fact, classifying people by skin color was the definition of racism just a decade ago — the exact opposite of what Martin Luther King taught us, that no person should be “judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Unlike the radical left that has now rejected it, most Sullivan County citizens still believe in Martin Luther King’s dream and reject the slander that America is a racist nation.

Juneteenth itself has nothing to do with Sullivan County or Tennessee. It celebrates the anniversary of an 1865 order proclaiming freedom for slaves in Texas. Would it not make more sense to honor the day slaves were freed in Tennessee instead?

More broadly, what is the limiting principle on commemorative holidays? How many more days off must our taxpayers work and pay to support? And will we allow far-left ideology to influence future holidays on our county’s calendar?

Sullivan County employees already receive 10 other paid holidays a year, not counting election days, and by the time you add all of those up, you’re looking at a cost of over $1 million annually. That cost was not considered, and several county commissioners who are also county employees did not recuse themselves from the vote.

Many forget that conservatives originally opposed Labor Day because it came from the progressive labor movement, which had its roots in globalist socialism.

Columbus Day, which in many parts of the country has been canceled for the sake of “political correctness” and replaced with “Indigenous People’s Day,” was established in 1892 after the largest mass lynching in American history in New Orleans when a mob murdered 11 Italian immigrants.

How long until we are asked to close down county operations for the Transgender Day of Visibility or Karl Marx Day, or, dare I say, Pride Day?

And why should only one side of the aisle get to emotionally blackmail the public calendar?

Why not give county employees another day off on June 24 and call it “Human Life Day” to mark the anniversary of Dobbs vs. Jackson, the decision that overturned Roe vs. Wade’s unconstitutional verdict that blessed the slaughter of over 70 million innocent unborn babies on the bloody altar of sexual gratification.

So, Juneteenth?

Fine by me.

But two sides can tango, and I’m ready for the conservative majority to join the dance.




As you can read above, Sullivan County Commissioner Joe Carr is  again, doubling down on his objection to celebrating the end of slavery in this country, although he does say "no one supports slavery, or opposes celebrating emancipation."  Well thank you Commissioner Carr... that is mighty white of you.  

In the dribblish, rambling "but what about" column he wrote above, he says Juneteenth has nothing to do with Tennessee.  In your website editor's opinion, that's like saying we should not celebrate Christmas in Tennessee because the birth of Jesus happened in Israel, not here.  Following Carr's logic, Tennessee and Kingsport should not observe Thanksgiving because the first Thanksgiving and its celebration happened in Massachusetts, not in Tennessee.  Any observance of Easter is out the window (Easter is not even a federal or state holiday)... but Easter has nothing to do with Tennessee anyway.  Carr's ridiculous reasoning makes no sense.

He also laments about the "threats" that he and other commissioners who voted his way about Juneteenth have received.  What did the commissioner expect, when he makes a ridiculous suggestion in public about recognizing a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery?

So far, Carr has offered no opinion of the national and Tennessee official observance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Day, except to not include the  "Reverend" and "Doctor" in reference to King's name.  One can only assume that he has a problem with Dr. Martin Luther King Day as well... luckily, no one has questioned him about it.  Yet.

A reminder to everyone.. please come to the Juneteenth celebration in Kingsport this coming Saturday.  Please stand up to perceived racism from a public figure who promised at his inauguration to represent all of the people in his district, whom he claims "are against Juneteenth."  So far, only one email to the County Commission has supported him.. every other communication has condemned his bigotry.

Get ready to dance, Commissioner... instead of the tango, let's twist.

--------Calvin Sneed, your website editor