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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ebony Club Forms Alumni Asociation



Members of the former Ebony Club at Dobyns-Bennett High School now have a way to reconnect with each other — and they’ll have the chance to reunite later this summer.
The newly formed Kingsport Ebony Club Alumni Association has a Web site open to both former members and friends of the club, which was founded in 1972 by former John Sevier Middle School teacher and track coach Lib Dudney.
The club was created to give the school’s African-American students a better sense of their collective history, as well as a more accurate understanding of the varied contributions of their ancestors to the American way of life. Dawnella Ellis, a former Dobyns-Bennett High School teacher, assumed oversight of the club in 1977, continuing to work in this capacity until her retirement in 2005.
Jeffery A. Faulkerson, who lives with his wife and son in Wake Forest, N.C., was a member of the club while he attended D-B in the early 1980s. He also served as the club’s president.
“Our big event was a talent and fashion show,” he said. “We had it every year usually around Black History Month. That event was open to the whole student body. The show was in the Little Theater at Dobyns-Bennett. We did community service-type activities, and we also took field trips. I remember — and it’s been a long time since I graduated — we visited Livingstone College [a private, historically black college in North Carolina].”
Faulkerson and others began tossing around the idea of forming an alumni association in late 2007 and early 2008, he said.
“Me and Johnnie Mae Swagerty started having some discussions about it back in early 2008. This was after conversing with Dawnella Ellis,” he said. “We were just really interested in getting some of the former students, former members, together for a reunion. We just said, ‘Let’s schedule a date,’ and we decided to get it in line with the Douglass [School] Alumni Association. They have reunions every two years. We said it’d be great for us to get all our former members together the same weekend the Douglass Alumni Association has their reunion.
“As for the alumni association itself,” Faulkerson said, “we have some plans to incorporate it and really make it more of a formal organization, either as a not-for-profit organization providing funding for students who go to college, or funding some local non-profits there in the area. We just believe we’re restoring linkages to our glorious past. That’s why we exist as an organization. We had some wonderful years there at Dobyns-Bennett, but in many respects, we don’t hear the African-American story being told. We’re really just trying to educate the general public about the club’s existence, some of the great things we accomplished back then, and some of the great things we’ve accomplished as adults.”
Currently, more than 80 former club members have registered on the Web site, including one member now living in Burbank, Calif. Initial response has been good toward the association’s 2009 Reunion Weekend, scheduled for July 3-5.
“It’s a full weekend, and everybody is looking forward to it,” Faulkerson said. “We want to give people something to come back to. You want to make it a special time where people can come back, sit and relax, reminisce about what life was like back in the day.”
For more information, click on the link below, or click on the "Kingsport Ebony Club" link on the Douglass Website main page.

Kingsport Ebony Club