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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"The Last Great Program at Douglass"

The countdown has begun, and rain or shine, we'll be there.

Kingsport is coming together this coming Saturday to help Riverview and South Central celebrate the grand history of the oldest African-American school in the area. As you know, the Douglass School will be renovated into Kingsport's new Non-Profit Center, which will keep the name "The V.O. Dobbins Community Center." Construction work begins in just a few short weeks.


"The Last Great Program at Douglass" will be held inside the HEATED Douglass Auditorium this coming Saturday, January 10th at 12 Noon. The Douglass Auditorium is the only part of the building, scheduled to be torn down, as the rest of the building will either be renovated, or added on to. There will also be another installment of the Douglass Book Fair, from 9 AM to 12 Noon, just before the program, with each book still costing one dollar. If you have not picked up your Douglass School book, please do so, then stick around for the noon program, or be sure and come back for it.


There'll be short speeches from Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips, Assistant to the City Manager Chris McCartt, Former Douglass Football Captain Bobby Joe Johnson, Kingsport Board of Education member Wally Boyd, and good, ole-fashioned gospel music from the churches in the Riverview-South Central community. We also have a couple of surprises, that will warm your heart and just may bring you to your feet! Johnnie Mae Swagerty and I are still working on one really BIG surprise, and we hope you like it!


We will also have a wonderful 20-minute video presentation with interviews from former Douglass teachers, who share heart-warming stories about the students they taught, funny things that happened in school and in class, and memories of students whom the Lord called home before they could graduate. Only a few teachers are still with us. This video will make you laugh, and it will also make you cry, as you relive the Douglass years through the eyes of some of the teachers who gave us life lessons, as well as school lessons. Our teachers at Douglass were our mentors, our "guidance counselors of life." not just someone standing up at the front of the class, doling out assignments. OUR teachers shaped our lives, keeping us focused and concentrated, even staying with us after school sometimes, to help us understand our lessons. Truly, wonderful people.....

After the program, a brief self tour and walk-through will be conducted through the building, where you can see the classrooms where you were taught. This will indeed be a memorable moment, the "Final Walk-Through." The building will look very different, the next time we are all gathered inside it. After that, light refreshments will be served back in the Auditorium Lobby, and you'll be able to eat inside the Auditorium, something Festa' Dobbins would have NEVER let us do back in the day!

For those way out of town who cannot make it, the entire event will be streamed live on your Douglass website,, accessible by clicking the "play" button on the TV screen on the left side of the title page. While you can view it there, you're encouraged to be there in the Auditorium in person. Nothing beats a live event like the one we're having, in person.


On Thursday morning, please tune your radios to WJCW-AM 910 Talk Radio from Johnson City, as the morning crew will interview Calvin about the event on Saturday. The interview will begin somewhere around 7:45 AM, and will highlight not only the Saturday program, but also the history of Douglass School and its relationship to Kingsport, the Riverview-South Central Community, the Tri-Cities, and Upper East Tennessee.

Local media outlets have also pledged their support to Saturday's Noon program. The Kingsport Times-News will have both a reporter and a photographer there.. WCYB-TV, Channel 5 and WJHL-TV, Channel 11 have the event on their schedules to cover as well, for the Saturday evening news at 6 PM, 10 PM (Fox) and 11 PM. This is yet one more opportunity to show people the love we have for one of our community cornerstones, and to demonstrate how proud we are to say: "I'm from Riverview in Kingsport!"

Please come out and join in one of the most memorable celebrations in the history of Kingsport and our neighborhood. "The Last Great Program at Douglass" promises to be one of the most memorable events of our time, a fitting tribute to a strong link in our community and our lives. Don't let this opportunity pass by, to say goodbye to a cornerstone of the neighborhood, and a welcome to the new-age renovations to come!

See you Saturday!