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Monday, February 26, 2007

12th Annual Community Unity Celebration in Riverview (from the Kingsport Times-News)

Community Unity: Kingsport event going strong in its 12th year (more photos are in the Photo Gallery)

KINGSPORT — With the help of music, dance and words of inspiration, Kingsport residents came together Sunday afternoon to celebrate their unity and their ability to work together to improve their communities. The 12th annual Community Unity celebration, organized by the South Central Kingsport Community Development Inc., was held at the Toy F. Reid Eastman Employee Center.
The event was inspired by the tragic death of 4-year-old Jalisha Ferguson, who was killed by a stray bullet while playing in her yard in 1994 when a drug deal in her neighborhood turned violent.
SCKCD board member Dr. Kenneth Calvert said during the event’s official greeting that there is much to be praised about what has been accomplished to make neighborhoods safer over the past 12 years. “Our community has become a safe community, not because of any one organization, but because of all of the organizations,” Calvert said. “One of the joys that we celebrate is that we’re able to partner together to make South Central Kingsport, and even Greater Kingsport, a safer, wonderful place to live.”
Mayor Dennis Phillips also addressed the audience in the opening greeting, noting that Kingsport continues to move forward with improvements to the South Central Kingsport community, with the latest focus being on moving people out of substandard apartments and into houses. “It takes a lot of people to pull anything together, and as long as we will keep using the ‘we’ word instead of the ‘I’ word we’ll get a lot accomplished in this community,” Phillips said.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the official greeting, however, was the presentation by Rep. Nathan Vaughn which included a song. Vaughn said the song, which opens “I am marked to serve God’s people, I am called to do his will,” was written for him, and the words exemplify the person he tries to be. “When this started many years ago there were many challenges that we faced, and there are still many challenges that we face today,” Vaughn said prior to singing his song. “But we can see progress. We can see that this celebration is an acknowledgement of a year’s worth of sacrifice and service to our community and ultimately to our nation.” But the event wasn’t so much about speeches as it was the entertainment and the celebration. Among the performers were the Community Unity Choir as well as other music groups including Exit 33, Nathan Brown and the Chosen Generation, A Few Good Men, Hallelujah Chorus and Unlimited. Dance groups included For His Glory, New Vision for Youth, and the Central Praise Dancers. Every year during the Community Unity celebration a scholarship of $500 per year for up to four years is awarded. Since 1994 the “Catch the Vision Scholarship” has been awarded to 12 graduating high school seniors. The 2007 recipient is Jessica Aldridge (whose mom accepted the award on her behalf).

Douglass & V.O. Dobbins Community Center Renovations Announced

Renovation is in the works for V.O. Dobbins Community Center
Published 02/23/2007 By MATTHEW LANE

Long-needed improvements to the V.O. Dobbins Community Center are on Kingsport's short list of capital improvement projects. Erica Yoon photo.____________________

KINGSPORT - After years of delays and being bumped for other projects within the city, the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen seems poised to move ahead with major renovations at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center.
As part of the annual budget discussions, the BMA has held two meetings in the past 30 days to discuss various capital improvement projects within the city. One of the projects that appears to have made the short list is improvements to V.O. Dobbins.
V.O. Dobbins is located in the Riverview neighborhood and was once the old Douglass High School - the city's African-American school that operated from 1951 until 1966.
According to CeeGee McCord, deputy executive director of the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the project calls for the rehabilitation of the facility and the addition of a new two-story, 22,000- to 23,000-square-foot nonprofit wing. The new wing would be anchored by the United Way and the American Red Cross.
"It would also provide some space for some smaller nonprofit and/or pilot programs that would be beneficial to the community," McCord said.
The project also calls for renovations to the theater and the construction of a new gym, which would be used by the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department in connection with AAU tournaments. Total new space at V.O. Dobbins would be 33,000 to 34,000 square feet.
The estimated cost of the project is around $7 million - $4.5 million of which could be funded through bonds and the remainder through new market tax credits, City Manager John Campbell said this week.
Work would likely not begin at the center until the 2008 fiscal year, and McCord said the project would take around three years to complete.
"What we'd like to see out of the project - and it's a nice tie-in to the HOPE VI project as well - is we rehab the current structure and maintain the current tenants within the building, which is the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency, the Parks and Recreation Department space, and the Neighborhood Service Center," McCord said.
In October, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the awarding of $11.9 million in HOPE VI grant funds to the KHRA. The project calls for replacing the 92 public housing units at Riverview with 28 to 32 houses and for 24 new houses to be built in the Sherwood/Hiwassee community.
"We feel like with the capital funds that had been slated in years past on this facility, it's something we hope would come to fruition," McCord said. "There's always limited dollars, and there's a lot of need in the community. It's something that's been on the CIP before, and we just want to make sure it stays there."
Kingsport resident Ed Horton spoke in favor of the project during a recent capital improvement projects (CIP) meeting with city leaders. Horton, who graduated from Douglass High School, said he moved back to the Model City last year after being gone for 30 years.
"I marvel at the plans on the table for revitalizing that section of town," Horton said.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Douglass Teacher Passes

Our Beloved Ms. Henderson from Douglass:

Katie Henderson

Memorial service for Ms. Katie Rhoda Henderson will be conducted at 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, 2007, at John Wesley United Methodist Church, with the Rev. Donald Swift officiating. The family will receive friends from noon until the hour of service. The interment will be conducted at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007, at Mountain View Cemetery. Expressions of love and online condolences may be sent via e-mail at
Ms. Katie Rhoda Henderson, 77, departed this life Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007, at the Wellmont Specialty Hospital.Ms. Katie Henderson and family are in the care of R.A. Clark Funeral Service, Bristol Tennessee, (423) 764-8584,
Published in the Bristol Herald Courier on 2/23/2007.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Community Builds Bridges At Annual Unity Celebration (From the Kingsport Times-News)

Theme for this year’s event is ‘Unity: The Vision Coming to Life.’
KINGSPORT — Barriers continue to fall and bridges continue to be built inthe Model City, according to the Rev. Kenneth Calvert. Calvert on Wednesday discussed details of the 12th annual Community UnityCelebration scheduled for Sunday in the Toy F. Reid Eastman Employee Center beginning at 4 p.m. “All along, our goal with the event was to build bridges and develop a community relationship with all of Kingsport, not just one section of it. We’ve made such progress with that objective since the advent of the event,” he said. The theme for this year’s event is “Unity: The Vision Coming to Life.” Calvert said the theme refers to accomplishments that have been made with the city, South Central, the Riverview communities and city leaders in the areas of cultural diversity and working together to improve those areas of Kingsport. “From my point of view, the police partnership has increased dramatically. From an economic viewpoint, the businesses that have partnered with those areas are making relationships grow every day,”Calvert said. “We see some barriers that may have been established throughmisunderstandings or other elements that have come down and they have not gone back up because more people are recognizing the need for unity. “The inclusion of church organizations in those efforts to bring city and community leaders together has worked. We see the proof. It wasn’t like things weren’t going on to bring people together before. Since 1994, you could say it has been more concerted.” Calvert said the “universal language of music” will be a centerpiece of the celebration. The Community Unity Choir, under the direction of Ida Conley; Limited, a three-piece jazz ensemble; and Chosen Generation, a praise music/dancegroup from Knoxville, will be among the groups slated to perform. The recipient of the 2007 South Central Kingsport Building Bridges Scholarship will also be announced during the event. Eleven graduates from Dobyns-Bennett High School have been awarded nearly $18,000 since the honor began in 1996. The $2,000 financial gift helps the recipient pay for college. An art exhibit, coordinated by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and UnityReception will follow the program in the center’s lobby.

Kingsport Allocated $249,041 Grant To Aid Home Ownership (From the Kingsport Times News)

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority received a quartermillion-dollar shot in the arm on Wednesday, money that will be used to help public housing residents achieve home ownership. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Wednesday$1.4 billion in funding for more than 5,300 local homeless programs throughout the nation. As its share, the KHRA received $249,041 under a Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency (ROSS) grant. HUD officials say the grants will support a record number of local programs, providing critically needed emergency shelter, transitional housing and permanent support to more than 150,000 individuals and families. U.S. Rep. David Davis, R-Tenn., made the announcement during a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the KHRA office. “It’s our job to make sure that we bring some of those dollars back home to help people in our communities. I’m happy to do that,” Davis said. KHRA officials said the ROSS grant would promote educational involvementand emphasize resident employment by opening the doors to training, employment and other economic opportunities. The program will also facilitate job retention and wage progression through intensive case management, job skill development training and targeted supportive services. “We’re going to work with public housing residents who are interested in moving toward home ownership. The ultimate goal would be home ownership,but it’s not the only goal,” said KHRA Director Terry Cunningham. “We’ll also work with folks to help them manage their credit better and to develop some life skills so they can get themselves in a position to be able to own a home.” Cunningham said the KHRA would also work with a number of other organizations to help residents, such as Frontier Health, legal services and other Tennessee housing development agencies. The grant will also dovetail with the HOPE VI project currently under way at the KHRA. In October, HUD announced the awarding of $11.9 million in HOPE VI grantfunds to the KHRA. The project calls for replacing the 92 public housing units at Riverview with 28 to 32 houses and for 24 new houses to be built in the Sherwood/ Hiwassee community. As part of the HOPE VI project, the KHRA also received 87 Section 8vouchers which residents could use to eventually help them into homeownership. “Helping our citizens transition from public housing to home ownership promotes personal growth and builds communities,” said Mayor Dennis Phillips. “I am delighted that through this funding, the KHRA will continue their good work.”

Scat Cats Still Rocking The House! (From the Kingsport Times-News)

This article was in the Kingsport Times-News.. The Scat Cats are the featured band for the 2007 Douglass Reunion Events. STILL GOING STRONG AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!

There were chill bumps on those of us in line at the Red Room Friday night. And it wasn’t just the weather. It was the Scat Cats, Kingsport’s legendary rock and soul band from the 1960s, who are back on the performing circuit. While waiting to get in, several of us were comparing notes. The lady in front of me said the last time she saw them a year or so ago they were great. I told her the last time I saw them they were great. Unfortunately,the last time I saw them was in 1966. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the seventh-grade prom at Robinson in 1960, and David Good reminded me that it was the Scat Cats who played that soiree. So when I read in the Times-News last week that they would be playing in Blountville, it seemed like the perfect convergence. David couldn’t locate his seventh grade prom date from RNR days, so he and I decided to go stag. We pretty much went stag in seventh grade anyway,with the boys congregating on one side of the Civic Auditorium and the girls on the other. We ended up with a group of 12, all unapologetic fans of 1960s music in general, and the Scat Cats in particular. Then all we had to do was find the Red Room. Do not use MapQuest for directions to the Red Room. It directed us up Carolina Pottery Road then left on Stratford. If there is a Stratford Road, we never found it. We were halfway to the airport before turning back and improvising. It’s really easy if you don’t use MapQuest. From Kingsport go past Sullivan Central High School, turn right on Shipley Ferry Road, keep left at Shadowtown, then left on the oddly named Industrial Private Drive. And there it is. The Red Room is a party hall that sponsors public dances on Friday night and weddings and private parties the rest of the time. The Scat Cats kicked off at 8 sharp with Booker T and the MG’s “Green Onions” then rocked the house for three hours, alternating between ballads, mid-tempo numbers like “Love Train,” and get-up-and-dance songs like“Mustang Sally.” They even played “Rocky Top.” The highlight of the night was when lead singer Kenny Springs took the microphone and waded into the crowd to belt out a set highlighted by JerryButler’s “For Your Precious Love.” It was like it was 1960 again and I was at the Robinson prom. Only this time I was dancing. It almost made me wish I were a teenager again. Almost.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The Scat Cats are taking the next couple of months off. Their next date is May 13 at the Red Room.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mrs. Mary E. Rutledge Obituary

Mrs. Mary E. Rutledge KINGSPORT — Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Rutledge, 79, departed this life at 11:10 p.m. Saturday, (Feb. 17. 2007), at Brookhaven Manor, and went peacefully to her Heavenly home after a brief illness. She was born May 4, 1927 in Greeneville, Tenn. to the union of the late James and Lenora Clark. Mary graduated from Douglass High School. She was a prayer warrior and intercessor and was never too busy to be a witness for the Lord or to share of His goodness. She had such a love for the beauty of this earth. Before her illness she could be found in her yard taking care of her flowers for this she was awarded the “Beautification Award” numerous times. She often said “she wanted her flowers while she lived.” She enjoyed her God given talent of cooking and baking with her spirit of giving she often shared her pecan pies and pound cakes. Another of her passions was being able to go to the “Farmers Market.” She made some life long friendships that she treasures. Mary was a member of North Kingsport Church of God. On October 1, 1946, Mary was united in Holy Matrimony to the late Cleveland I. Rutledge. This union was blessed with three loving and devoted daughters, Pamela, Cletta and Penny. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband of sixty years, Cleveland I. Rutledge (10/14/06); sisters, Mrs. Rosa Lee LeFlore, Ms. Marqurette Clark, Ms. Jenny Ruth Clark; and brother, James H. Clark, Jr. Mary is survived by devoted daughters and s o n s - i n - l a w, Pamela (John) Sensabaugh, Kingsport, Cletta (Alfred), Rowden, Atlanta, Ga., and Penny (Alfred) Lollar, Greeneville, Tenn; God-daughter, Willena Stokely Ponder, Atlanta, Ga.; grandchildren, Brandon (Bridget) Lollar; great-grandchildren, Nicholas and Sydni, Greeneville, Tenn., Meleka (Kevin) Arnett; great grand-children and Marchita Sensabaugh, Kingsport; sisters, Mrs. Ruth Turner, Dallas, Tex., Mrs. Frances Graves, Kingsport, Mrs. Martha Davis, Dallas, Tex., and Mrs. Barara A. Smith, Spartanburg, S.C.; brothers and sisters-in-law, William Richard (Connie) Clark, Kingsport, Arthur (Martha) Clark, Dallas, Tex., Steven (Peggy) Machen,, Kingsport, Mrs. Jean Clark, Mrs. Irene Rutledge, Kingsport, Elders Omar and Ella M. Helm, Northfork, W. Va.; A host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and many special friends. The family would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Brookhaven Manor and staff for the wonderful and loving care you gave our Mother. The family will receive friends from 12 noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, (Feb. 22, 2007), at Central Baptist Church, 301 Carver St., and anytime at the residence, 333 Dunbar St., Kingsport. Services will be conducted at 1 p.m. Thursday at the church with the Rev. Dr. Anthony Daniels officiating. Burial will follow at Tri-Cities Memory Gardens in Blountville, Tenn. R. A. Clark Funeral Services, 100 Lincoln St., 423-245-4971, is serving the Rutledge family.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Message To All From Tommy Norwood

Calvin, thanks for all the great is so enjoyable to read and view all the comments as well as the photos of so many I have not had the chance to see. It seems as though each time I do get a chance to return to Kingsport, time is the one thing lacking so much.
To the wonderful staff and members of the Alumni Association, your hard work is not getting unnoticed. From the many of us that have ventured away from home, just like Dorothy used to say, "there is no place like home." You have managed to capture it and recreated it in our hearts. As I gaze at the many pictures I can see many of us darting down the hallways for lunch just waiting to be caught by Prof. Dobbins, or was it the mad dash across the field racing to get to Rev Edge's for a burger. I see the pictures of the gym and I remember those games against Slater High...I see the faces of so many I have missed and the ones that have molded our lives, from my first days with Mrs. Dobbins all the way up to Mr. Hendricks.
You know it is so amazing how many brave souls we had molding us into who we are today. Like many of you we will always remember, the Douglass High Tigers. My thanks go out to all of you that have helped me become the man I am...Bravo to all my teachers, our beloved pastors, our civic leaders and loving and caring parents, friends and relatives.

Thomas C Norwood, Jr (Tommy) or (Little TC)

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. - William Arthur Ward

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Black History Month: Recollections from Gate City Resident Wallace Ross, Jr

Black History Month display retains tradition--Reprinted from the Kingsport Times-News, 2/18/07
PHOTO AT RIGHT: Years ago, Mr. Ross and other African-American children were not allowed to go to Gate City High School. Years later, the school board decided it was a waste of money to bus children 10 miles across the state line to Douglass School in Kingsport.

‘Mom’s expectation of history is that the past, present and future connect if you know whereyou are at and where you are going.’ — Wallace Ross Jr.

GATE CITY — In an area that the U.S. Census Bureau estimates is 99.5percent white, Black History Month gives members of the small black community in Scott County an opportunity to show others the contribution they have made to the area. Wallace Ross Jr. pulled his military medals out to display at the GateCity library during Black History Month. A Gate City native, Ross did not always talk about his time in the U.S.Army’s 1/7 Cavalry after he returned from duty in Vietnam. Following high school, Ross found himself on a plane bound for Vietnam. He returned a year later to a nation that did not immediately appreciatehis sacrifice. “I came back when soldiers were being spit on,” he said. Drafted and sent to the 1/7 Cavalry, Ross saw intense fighting in 1967,including a three-day battle with North Vietnamese regular soldiers thatended in hand-tohand combat. It is unnerving to be a soldier when the order “fix bayonets” is given,Ross said. “It’s a miracle that I’m here today,” Ross said. Ross was at the library recently, setting up a display commemorating black history in the area. Vietnam was really the first war with truly integrated units, he said.That is why he included his medals in the display. “They were something my mother always used to tell me I should be proud of,” Ross said. Ross’ mother, Doretha Wiggins Ross, used to set up the Black History Month display at the library that Ross worked on this month. Each year, she would set out some of the photographs that portrayed the heritage of blacks in Scott County. She died last spring, and Ross wanted to carry on the tradition. Ross brought pictures of a class of students standing in front of the all-black Prospect School in Gate City. He also put in information about blacks who would have been in Virginia 400 years ago when Jamestown was a thriving community. It’s the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, and Ross said he tried to tie in that history. Ross’ history in Gate City only goes back two generations. His grandparents moved to the area during the Great Depression, bringing their daughter, Doretha, with them. His mother was involved in the black community in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee. She was also involved in local politics, Ross said. Before integration of schools, Ross said he and his two sisters had to go to all-black schools, like Prospect School, a black elementary school inGate City. Once a child went through Prospect, they had to go on to a black high school. Most went to Douglass High School in Kingsport, Tennessee he said. When Ross attended Douglass, his mother was on the PTA, working on different programs for the students there. Doretha Ross worked at the cafeteria at Holston Defense. She also worked at a church, Hales Chapel in Gate City. “She had grandparents who instilled in her to work for change,” Rosssaid. Doretha Ross was elected to the Gate City Town Council in 1978, becomingthe first black on the Town Council in Gate City history. In 1978, she was selected to the Scott County Democratic Committee and was congratulated by a then state Sen. Rick Boucher. In 1976, she went to the National Democratic Convention in Miami. She was the first black woman to vote in the convention, Ross said. “Growing up with my mother was interesting. She took us across the state of Virginia on vacation just as the country integrated. In this part of the country, school segregation was still going on. But it was unusual to be going to a black school.” Ross and his sister, Geniva, were the first African-Americans to go to Gate City High School in the summer of 1963. The school had not been integrated yet. But that didn’t stop his mother, Ross said. “I knew I had to go to summer school. My mom was driving me to Kingsport to Douglass, and she looked up at (the Gate City High School) and said, ‘I pay taxes for that.’ I knew what she was thinking. I told her, ‘no.’ ” But that summer, he and Geniva attended Gate City High School. That fall, Ross went back and attended regular classes there. Ross is vague about the problems that a black person encountered at an all-white school in 1963. But he said he knew and had played with many the white students before enrolling in GCHS. “We knew everybody when we got there (for summer school). We found it wasn’t a problem,” he said. “Gate City adapted better than most school systems.” In 1966, Ross was drafted. He was 19 years old when he landed in Vietnam with B Co. 1/7 Cavalry. Ross went from the Central Highlands to the Northern region of the country. The people he faced at the time were the North Vietnamese regulars. Ross received the Combat Infantry Badge, the Purple Heart and the Air Medal. “Coming back from Vietnam, a lot of folks didn’t want to discuss it,” hesaid. “We went from the battlefields to the streets. It was a difficult time. With all that had transpired. I didn’t feel (my medals) meant much at the time. My mother felt I should bring them out. But I kept them hidden.” Ross was wounded in the leg and sent to a hospital on Okinawa. Despite heavy use of antibiotics, Ross said he almost lost his leg to infection. Ross came home to Fort Knox, Ky., where he served the remainder of his time and was trained to do military funerals. He traveled through Ohio, performing a funeral per day for 30 days. He was released from active duty on Aug. 25, 1968. Ross’ mother died March 27, 2006. “She lived by the words, ‘Rich or poor, we are all members of the human race.’ ” It was a motto she kept in mind while serving on the Gate City Town Council and the Democratic Party. Doretha Ross modeled a way of life for her son that he admired from his youth to today. A member of the Democratic Party, Ross is not active in local politics like his mother. But he said he does attend town meetings and keeps a breastof Gate City happenings. “My mom was a part of the history of Scott County. The things she put on display here (at the library) were part of that,” Ross said. Now, Ross is continuing his mother’s work by preserving historic photos and papers, and exhibiting them to others. “Mom’s expectation of history is that the past, present and future connect if you know where you are at and where you are going,” Ross said.

Chittlin's A-Cooking!

Kathy Bradford cooks some of the 90 pounds of chitlins for the New Vision Youth Soul Food Chitlin Strut Saturday at the Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church on Maple Oak Street in Kingsport. New Vision is trying to raise $23,000 by June 4th to send the New Vision Youth Praise Group to perform in the Bahamas. Please support them in this worthwhile effort!

Reunion Meeting RESCHEDULED!

Next Saturday's (February24th) meeting of the Douglass Reunion Committee has been POSTPONED to the FOLLOWING Saturday, March 3rd.
The time is still 1 PM, and the place is still the Fellowship Hall at St. Mark's United Methodist Church on Maple Street.


Message To All From Tim Finch!

Subject: Thanks for the memories
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007
From: "Finch, Timothy" <
To: "Calvin Sneed" <

You guys have brought back memories and my friends with pictures that I have long for, for years. When I talk to my cousin (Cotton) I'm always asking about everyone, your mother Mrs. Sneed was my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Cox, Mrs. Webb, Mrs. Crump, Mrs. Bowers, and Mr. Gill, Mr. Thomas, Mrs. Dobbins. These teachers were outstanding. I think we left Douglass about the same time I went to John Sevier, I remember my mother saying you have to go, you will get a better education. Little that she knew we were years ahead of them and that what Mr. Gill always said, you have to stay 2 steps ahead of the game to be equal and he was right then, and it's the same today. I would like to say thanks to the Association for putting the website together for those of us that are far away from (home) this is sincerely a work of love, to keep us in the loop. The picture from all the class reunion are outstanding, at times I just sit at my desk and look at them over and over. Looking at old childhood friends and seeing how time has been good to them. I hope to make it back to the reunion and be a part of the hold event and share the memories of yesteryears.
And to all my friends, Time and distance are important between friends, when a friend is in your heart, they remain there forever, I may be busy, but I assure you, you guys are always in my heart.
Please share this with others my friend.

Riverview Residents Needed!

We got this message from Doug Releford, and Jeff Jensen had spoken to me about it this past Saturday, February 17th.


From: Jeff Fleming
Subject: Our Town
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007

The Kingsport Theatre Guild is performing the classic Our Town March 9, 10> and 11. As part of this production, Jeff Jensen, the City Archivist is putting together a small display on early Kingsport and I would like quotes from 15-25 Kingsport natives to add to the display. "Quotes" can be up to three or four paragraphs and should be about what it was like to live in the "earlier days" of Kingsport-growing up here, raising a family, first job, etc. I need the quote, author's name and how long he/she has lived here. I know bazillians of people read your blog, so if you could help spread the word about this project, I would really appreciate it. I need them by March 1st and they can be e-mailed to:
Katherine Scoggins

Sunday, February 11, 2007

It's A Walk Back Through Time!

In the next few days and weeks of Black History Month, we're taking a walk down Memory Lane with some of our friends and neighbors who moved to Riverview in the 30's and 40's, once the City of Kingsport decided where it wanted its African-American citizens to live. These are excerpts from a wonderful publication entitled "Love Thy Neighbor--Discovering Our Community." These are resident interviews for an Environmental Justice Project conducted by Kingsport Citizens For A Cleaner Environment in September of 2005. Through their experiences, it's an eye-opening look into the lives of Kingsport's African American residents who helped established the foundation for our neighborhood. Pictures are also with the testimonials, and if you've got any pictures that go along with the stories, please send them to me! We'll be doing at least one interview per day until the end of Black History Month.

All of those Oral Histories have their own link now on the home page, and also on the history page.

We've also got a feature on, probably the ONLY place in the Tri-Cities where you will still find the word "COLORED" on a public sign.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Can You Remember These?

Found this the other day.. see how good your memory is:

Remember "Continental kits?"
They were those rear bumper extenders and spare tire covers that made any car look as cool as a Lincoln Continental, especially Cadillacs. There were several of those on cars in Riverview.

When did we quit calling it the "emergency brake?"
At some point we stopped calling it a "parking brake," but I don't remember when.

Remember when you used to wait at the street for somebody to come up the driveway, so you could ride the "running board" up to the house?

Remember when items from the Oakwood Market, the Giant Store, or Rose's were considered "store-bought?"
Of course, just about everything is store-bought these days. But once it was bragging material to have a store-bought dress or a store-bought bag of candy.

"Coast to coast" is a phrase that once meant world-wide.. now, it means almost nothing.
We take the term "world wide" for granted now.

"Wall-to-wall" carpet was once a magical term in our homes in Riverview.
Back in the '50s and 60's, everyone covered his or her hardwood floors with, WOW.. wall-to-wall carpeting! Today, everyone replaces their wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors.

When's the last time you heard "in a family way?" It's hard to imagine that the word "pregnant" was once considered too graphic, a little too clinical for use in polite company So we had all that talk about "stork visits" and "being in a family way" or simply "expecting."

Apparently "brassiere" is a word no longer in usage. Seems a bra is a bra is a bra.

Some of us loved going to the "picture show," but at some point when they let us move down from the balconies at the State and the Strand Theaters, it became the "movies."

Remember the word "percolator?" Believe it or not, that's what we called it, instead of a coffee pot.
How about the "Frigidaire," instead of "refrigerator."
"Hand me a Kleenex," instead of a tissue.. "Take this and Xerox it," instead of "take this and copy it.. when's the last time you "copy it" anyway? "Take this and print it off."

Here's a marketing term some of us will remember..
"Introducing the 1963 Admiral TV, now with "SpectraVision!" What in the world was "SpectraVision?" How did that make a difference from the RCA set we had, that had "VistaVision."

Castor Oil must have cured some ailment forever, because hardly anybody ever gives it to children anymore. Milk of Magnesia still tastes like chalk, no matter now many fruity flavors they put in it.

It's still "dinner" It used to be "supper," too.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Message From Ron (Ronnie) Taylor!

FirstLastName = Ron TaylorEmail = ront224@sbcglobal.netMessage =

(This website is a) "Great, Great Idea". I've been at my computer completely captivated by all the info on Kingsport and all the photos found on this informative website. Congratulations to all those responsible. This brings back great memories.

Ron (Ronnie) Taylor (Douglass Class of '60)

Black History Month Events at East Tennessee State University

African and African American Studies Lecture Series, 7 PM, February 6th, Carroll Reese Museum, ETSU.
Adam Dickson, Tennessee Advocacy Manager for the American Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers in Boones Creek, will speak on "An Analysis of the 2006 Congressional Elections and the Conseedquences for African Americans. Sponsored by African and Afriucan American Studies.

"Chocolate on the Outside" 10 AM, February 9th, D.P. Culp Univeristy Center, Martha Street Culp Auditorium, ETSU.
This play, written by April Turner and presented by Life As Art Productions, concerns four African-American co-workers who set out for a team-building workshop retreat inthe snow-blown Appalachian Mountains. A thought-provoking play that examines intra-racial issues and revelations through the power of forgiveness.

Traveling Exhibit: "Eyes Wide Open" 10 AM to 4 PM, February 12-16, Sherrod Library, Borchuck Plaza, ETSU.
The American Friends Service Committee's widely acclaimed exhibition on the human cost of the Iraq War features a pair of boots honoring each U.S. military casualty. Sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

"The Meeting", 7 PM, February 13, D.P. Culp University Center, Martha Street Culp Auditorium, ETSU.
This play depicts what might have happened if Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had met before they were assassinated, just three years apart. The play explores the lives, philosophies and times of these two Civil Rights leaders. Sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Black Affairs Association.

Multicultural Career Fair, Noon to 3 PM, Feb. 20th, D.P. Culp University Center Ballroom, ETSU.
Businesses, corporations and organizations from surrounding states visit to recruit students and allow them to explore the opportunities they have to offer. Students are encouraged to bring resumes, dress professionally and be prepared for interviews. Co-sponsored by the Offices of Multicultural Affairs and Career Placement and Internship Services.

Black History "Jeopardy", 7 PM, February 21st, D.P. Culp University Center, Meeting Room 6, ETSU.
Test your knowledge of Black History and watch contestants compete for prizes. Organizations are welcome to participate. Those interested must sign up and receive an informational packet by stopping by the Student Organization Resource Center on the lower level of the Culp Center, or by emailing Sponsored by the Black Affairs Association.

African Aand AFrican American Studies Lecture Series, 6 PM, February 22, Carroll Reese Museum, ETSU.
The Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, a leader during the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950's and 1960's, and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, will speak on "The Civil Rights Movement: The Struggles and Consequences." Reverend Shuttlesworth is considered one of the "Big Three" of the Civil Rights Movement, along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Reverend Ralph Abernathy. Sponsored by African and African American Studies.

Gospel Extravaganza, 3:30 PM, Feb. 25th, D.P. Culp University Center, Martha Street Culp Auditorium, ETSU.
This spring concert features performances by the ETSU Gospel Choir and other local choirs.

Black History Awareness Month Ribbon Giveaway, 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM, February 27-28, D.P. Culp University Center, Second and Third Floors, ETSU. Red, black and gree ribbons will be given in commemoration of Black History Awareness Month. Information about African Americans' contributions will be distributed. Sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Black Affairs Association.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Douglass School Day Memories--Reprinted From the Kingsport Times News, February 4, 2007

School day memories

Douglass alumni launch Web site to share recollections (Photos for this story are in the PHOTOS section)

When Calvin Sneed walks the halls of the red building at 301 Louis St., in Kingsport, it brings back memories of his school days at Douglass Elementary-High School. “As you look down the hall, you can still hear the bell ringing and the kids coming out of class,” Sneed says. “The cafeteria is still there with its old stainless-steel counter top. It can be like a step back in time.”
Sneed’s recollections are tempered by the fact that Douglass no longer exists as a school. Kingsport’s lone African-American school, which served students in grades kindergarten through 12, was shut down in June 1966 when the city desegregated its school system. The building today serves a dual role as the V.O. Dobbins Community Center and the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency.
Although the school itself has been gone for more than 40 years, it’s still vital to the 300 or so people that make up the Douglass High School Alumni Association. The organization hosts a reunion every two years as a way of commemorating the school’s influence in the Riverview community.
“It had more of an impact because it was a neighborhood school,” Sneed said. “The teachers emphasized the family part of growing up, as much as they emphasized the three R’s and what you needed to learn.”
The school’s legacy is also being celebrated on a new Web site at Launched on Dec. 30, it contains historic information, vintage photographs, reunion updates and current news about the Riverview neighborhood. Put together by Sneed and fellow alumni Roberta Webb and Donald Hickman, the site received nearly 800 hits in its first three weeks.
A television news anchor at WTVC-Channel 9 in Chattanooga, Sneed said the site was created as reminder of how the Douglass High School experience helped steer young people toward successful lives. “We graduated doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, engineers and, to my knowledge, one television broadcaster,” Sneed said. “There’s so much culture and history coming out of that one little neighborhood school. It changed the lives of everyone who attended.”
Bits of that culture still reverberate inside at 301 Louis St. The cafeteria described by Sneed is still there, as are the gym and the auditorium. There are also significant differences. Classrooms have been subdivided into offices, while the awards earned by Douglass sports teams have been assimilated into the trophy case at Dobyns-Bennett. But the memories are vivid.
“Our school was sort of a landmark for us,” said Douglas Releford, a 1963 graduate. “Anything that happened in the community, it happened at the school. We had the gym for school functions and plays. Whatever church you went to, you could get together with everybody at the auditorium in the school. It brought the whole community together.”
Jill Ellis, a Douglass guidance counselor who moved over to Dobyns-Bennett when Douglass closed, says the school helped build a close-knit community.
“Because we were K-through-12, we had camaraderie that schools don’t have today,” Ellis said. “It made for a cohesive group.”
That cohesion spilled out into the Riverview neighborhood where most of the children lived. Releford recalls most of the children as being well-behaved. If they weren’t, then a watchful community saw to it that they paid the consequences.
“You didn’t just get discipline from your mom and dad,” Releford said. “It was everyone in the neighborhood. You could be down the street doing something wrong, and someone would say, ‘I’m gonna tell your mom and dad.’ And by the time you got home, your mom and dad knew about it.”
Sneed has a similar remembrance.
“You could stand to get your butt beat by someone down the street as much as your parents,” Sneed said. “Everyone looked out for each other.”
The discipline in the neighborhood extended into the school. Although there was a truant officer on duty, Ellis said principal V.O. Dobbins would often take matters into his own hands if a child was missing from school.
“If a child didn’t come to school or was late, Mr. Dobbins would go to the child’s house, knock on the door and drag him out,” Ellis said. “He knew where everybody lived. That was one of the reasons we had no dropouts. It was a strong system, and kids stayed in school.”
Named for Frederick Douglass, an anti-slavery leader during the Civil War era, the original Douglass School was built in 1928 on the corner of Center Street and East Sevier Avenue after a succession of earlier schools for black children were deemed either inadequate or too small. The student population would eventually outgrow the school, leading to the building of the Louis Street facility in 1951.
The school officially opened in the fall of 1952. Two years later, the Supreme Court ruling in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education outlawed racial segregation in public schools in the United States.
Douglass School maintained a high academic standard, gaining accreditation from the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges, which assured graduating seniors that their educations would be furthered at quality universities.
In addition to quality academics, Douglass became known for its fiercely competitive sports teams. The marching bands and choruses also earned superior ratings, while the school further distinguished itself within the community through “Miss Douglass” competitions and various plays and pageants, funded mostly through the sale of sports concessions.
“That made us very proud,” Ellis said. “We had something in our own community. We had a state-of-the-art auditorium with a full stage and lighting and a theater. Our own projection room. We were something special in town because we were the newest school.”
But all those good feelings were accompanied by the pending specter of desegregation. “There was a feeling of urgency,” Ellis said, “even though it seemed like a perfect community with churches, homes and schools. When you get court rulings, it’s a wake-up call.” A small group of Douglass students to transferred to Dobyns-Bennett in 1965. Douglass then closed its doors for good on June 8, 1966, with all students who had not graduated being assimilated into the all-white schools of Kingsport.
Sneed, who was in the sixth grade at the time, recalls desegregation as being distressing for both black and white students. “It was intensely traumatic,” he said. “Most of the images white people saw of black people on television or in the newspapers were riots, fights and destruction. That made a big, big statement when all of a sudden the only black school in town closes down, and all they know of black people is what they’ve seen and heard on TV. That made it a very tough experience.”
“It was pretty hard,” Releford said. “People wanted to go, but they didn’t want to go. When we were at Douglass, it was a big family. We had a lot of one-on-one with the teachers.”
Sneed hopes to keep the spirit of what Douglass meant to the Riverview community alive through the Web site. The community’s concerns will be addressed at this year’s Douglass High School Reunion, which will be held June 29 through July 1. The reunion’s theme is “It’s a Great Time to Come Home.”
“It’s poignant because of the demolition and the rebuilding of the Riverview apartments which all of us grew up with,” Sneed said. “The whole neighborhood is going to look totally different the next time we get together. The complexion of the neighborhood is changing greatly.”

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Black Web Portal

From Doug Releford, here's news of a web portal serving the Black public and others looking for Black information:

First of all, a web portal is an all-in-one approach to accessing resources on the internet. Portals include business, event and web search engines, people locators, aucitons, financial information, news, weather, sports classified and discussions.
If this is what you're looking for, check out that so far, has attracted 600,000 visitors in the past five years. The owners say Black America needs a strong and reliable source of ALL types of information. If it's national news you need, has it. They rank Black web sites, and if you're a Black webmaster, you can list with them for $9.88, or list in their Yellow Pages starting at $39.95.

Great Suggestion From Brenda Huff Bond!

May I suggest a section for "teachers" and a little bio about their lives, where are they and what they are doing now. I think a few have passed on, so we should have a "memorial" section for them as well.I do not have this info, but I'm sure some someone has a few leads.Where is Mr. Deering, Ms. Crump, Ms. Goins, Mr. Jolly, Mr. Saunders, Mr. & Mrs. Steele???

You are doing a great job on the website. I love reading the updates. Keep up the good work. We have needed something like this for so very long, and now we have the technology to serve the purpose.

Brenda Huff Bond

FROM CALVIN: Folks, Brenda's got a great idea. We've talked about it in conversation at the Reunion Committee meetings, but it's information everybody needs to know. Who wants to get the ball rolling? Please send me your favorite Douglass teacher's name, the class they taught, information on their whereabouts (alive or no longer with us), what inspiration you got from them, what you remember about the teacher in class, or some little something about the class itself. I'll find a picture of the teacher and we'll share it with everybody!

Message From the Trueloves!

FirstLastName = LARRY TRUELOVE Email = =



Thursday, February 1, 2007

Kingsport City Hall Town Meeting Concerning Extra HOPE VI Funds for Riverview

They sat.. they listened.. and hopefully, for the people of Riverview and the Douglass Alumni, they'll act.

Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips, City Manager Ray Griffin, Jr. and the Board of Aldermen took part Wednesday afternoon, January 31st, in a roundtable discussion with members of the Riverview Community and the Douglass Alumni Association, concerning the use of extra money that will be left over from the 12-million dollar HOPE VI federal grant that has been awarded to the City of Kingsport.

Most of the money will be used to tear down the Riverview Apartments, and build beautiful, single family homes on the streets where they are right now, but there will be extra money left over, and the hope is, that money will be spent on special projects in Riverview that residents can enjoy.
About 20 concerned Douglass Alumni and residents of Riverview attended the roundtable discussion.. Central Baptist Church pastor Dr. Anthony Daniels led the group in an opening prayer, and then it was down to business.

Among the people attending, Edward Horton spoke to the city government officials, saying he'd lived in several places and never thought he'd be back living in Kingsport, whose appearance he says, has changed quite a bit. He told the group, his new impression of Kingsport is that it seems to be a good place now to retire to. Edward says, Kingsport now has activities and facilities for seniors that he'd never thought the city would have, which makes it an attractive place for people to move back to.

Stella Robinette, parttime employee with Kingsport Parks and Recreation, suggested that the city consider designating space in the Douglass School building for programs that nurture children that don't have the proper guidance at home. She says, programs like that would be a good, positive addition to the community, and the closeness of the Douglass School building would give them a sense of family.

Nathan Bly was also present at the meeting. The Section 8 program he administrates, will help Riverview residents financially with their transition from home rental, to home ownership.

Members of the Douglass Alumni Association presented ideas that members have long fostered for years.. they want to see space in the Douglass High School building for Douglass Traditions, to keep the traditions and history of the School alive and in place, so that its historic significance to the Community, the City of Kingsport, and Upper East Tennessee would never be forgotten. All trophies, certificates, honorariums, and statues that were taken away to other schools when Douglass closed, would be returned to the trophy case in the Douglass High School building (the original trophy case is still of it are in the PHOTO section).

Representatives of the Kingsport Housing Authority, the agency that will dispense the HOPE VI funds to local Riverview residents for the building of the new homes, also made a presentation to ADD a new gymnasium to go alongside the Douglass Gym there now. The new gymnasium would be large enough to accomodate Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) events. KHA representatives C.J. McCord and Terry Cunningham also said among the renovations planned for the Douglass building, the American Red Cross and the Kingsport United Way would also have office space there, the Douglass Auditorium would be upgraded to be used for community events. A suggestion was also made to provide office space for the Douglass Alumni Association, which would be a BIG plus for the organization.

Mayor Phillips, City Manager Griffin and the Aldermen listened to the proposals, and they all seemed very receptive to what they heard, the Mayor saying, improvements like the ones mentioned, would also empower and impact other neighborhoods in Kingsport. The end result is, they are definitely considering all the proposals they heard, with the emphasis being on exactly how much money will be left over. A decision may be forthcoming hopefully in 30 to 60 days.

Messages From Your Friends!

Neighbors and Friends! Got these messages in the past couple of days from some of your friends:


Hello Sons and Daughters of Douglass, Kudos to the Association, members and friends. Special kudos to Calvin, Roberta and Donald. The website is Great, it's informative and It's Home. Thanks for your dedication and I love you much.



THANKS, Dr. Sneed, I have the website locked in now! Jenny sent (the website address) to me yesterday, and I truly enjoyed my visit to our site yesterday. You, Bert and Don have done an OUTSTANDING job!!! P.S.: Say "HEY" to my ole classmate, Edward Horton! It looks like he's jumped right in, as tho he never left home!!! THAT'S GREAT!!!

Sincerely, floyd p


Committe members, I finally actually looked at pics from your last meeting. I believe it was probably my bad and not the computer's, but I wasn't able to open when I tried to, initially.
You guys were looking good as you were "taking care of business"!!! (smiles)--got me all excited about the reunion. Guess I should send in some money, den, huh????hahaha Be Blessed--hope you' having a good day.......

doris c


Dear Calvin, (regarding the City Hall Meeting on the extra funds from HOPE VI).. it will be a good idea to use some of the funds for remodeling the auditorium, for theater night, drama productions, "sing a night," talent, special meetings and so much more. Dream it. Movie night, sell popcorn and other refreshments to help raise money for the community, college funds for the Douglass Alumni program. There is so much you can do with the auditorum if we just have vision. I hated about the Douglass Pool, I learned to swim (there), and because of that I have saved some lives, Thank God. You never take resources out of your community, but you build to it. I would have had the pool remodeled, close it in for all year, put in a steam room, hot tub. It would be the attraction of the city. With the new housing coming up, the community would love having a place to go to in the winter with their families, pool parties in the winter that would help raise money and so much more. How can a sprinkling system help children, and besides that, it would give employment all year round, if not too late to do some changes.

Mary Cathy Pride