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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Destruction of Riverview Appalling


As a black native of Kingsport, I hate what the Kingsport Housing Authority and the city of Kingsport are doing to the black community of Riverview. I have had to come home to Kingsport four times in the last 15 months to bury members of my family, all of which would, like me and many others, call Riverview the center of black life in Kingsport. What the leaders in Kingsport are doing to Riverview is appalling.
In a few years, one will never know that Douglas High School ever existed and that Riverview had a bustling and vibrant black culture. I fondly remember attending Douglas because we were not allowed to attend the white schools. I attended Douglas from the first to the fifth garde, and those were the happiest days of my educational experience. Douglas was the center of the community of Riverview. At that time Douglas also housed the “black boys club” too. We had to go in the back door up to the balcony to see movies at the Strand. Now when I ride through Riverview, there is a profound feeling of great loss and unbelief. A part of me seems to have been wiped away, and the memories of many great black elders of mine that helped form me into the adult that I am today seemed to have been destroyed in the way much of Riverview has been demolished. How will anyone preserve and remember the lives and sacrifices of all the blacks who have lived in and frequented Riverview?
Black residents of Riverview have been displaced due to the gentrification of their community. I have not seen the plans, but I would bet that not many former black, low-income residents of Riverview will be able to afford the proposed housing that will be built on this site in place of the projects. They are also tearing off the auditorium of Douglas High School.
I sense in my spirit some deception of some in the black community of Kingsport. Surely given proper notice and input, the black residents of Kingsport would not have stood idly by and just allowed the black history of Riverview to be demolished and destroyed forever as if the people that lived there for decades never existed.
Anthony E. Bond
Irving, Tex.