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Friday, February 22, 2013

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Scheduled Meeting, Saturday, February 23rd

Dear Board Members,

I have scheduled a meeting for Saturday, February 23rd and the Eastman Board room has been confirmed for that date at 1:00 p.m. I would like for everyone to please make an effort to attend. I know that many of us have been sick and some are still incapacitated but if the weather allows we need to meet. Please bring in your unsold pancake tickets and the money for the ones that you did sell. We need to get a count on that fund raiser.

Since this is our first meeting of the year, let's make it a covered dish event.  I look forward to seeing you all at the next meeting.

Mark your calendars for the meeting date.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Former D-B classmates join forces for leukemia fundraiser



A shared love of basketball bonded Brad Blackwell and Coty Sensabaugh, who became fast friends when they were students at Lincoln Elementary School in Kingsport.

They remained close through middle and high school, with many an afternoon spent shooting hoops together on the court behind Blackwell’s house.

Blackwell and Sensabaugh drifted apart after graduating from Dobyns-Bennett in 2007, with Blackwell moving to Knoxville to earn an advertising degree from the University of Tennessee and launch his career as a country music singer. Sensabaugh went on to play football at Clemson University before being selected by the Tennessee Titans in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He just wrapped up his rookie season with the team.

The two reconnected through Twitter a few months ago and finally caught up face-to-face over dinner in November, when Blackwell was in Nashville on business. That’s when Blackwell suggested that they team up on a fundraising concert that would let both men share their good fortunes and give back to a cause near and dear to both their hearts.

Proceeds from Blackwell’s “Combustible” EP release show Feb. 22 at Knoxville’s Bijou Theatre, which Sensabaugh is helping promote, will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Sensabaugh’s older brother, Jamaar, died of leukemia in 2000 within a week of being diagnosed with the disease. He was just 16 years old. Coty, who was 11 at the time, credits Jamaar’s life — and sudden death — for molding and shaping him into the man he’s become.

“It had a major impact on me,” Sensabaugh said of his brother’s death. “I feel it made me grow up overnight. That was the driving force in a lot of the obstacles I faced throughout my life. It was an unfortunate situation, but it helped turn me into the person that I am today.”

Blackwell’s fiancee also has two uncles currently battling leukemia, so supporting an organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services was a perfect fit.

“I love seeing people chasing their dreams,” Sensabaugh said, “and I told (Brad), anything I can do to help, even besides this concert, I’m going to do it to help him. It’s just two friends getting together and supporting a good cause.”

Opening for Blackwell at the Bijou show will be Troy Suggs. Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Blackwell sold out the Bijou last June at a release concert for his second studio EP, “Fresh.” On hand to introduce him was former University of Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulm e r.

“From the second I moved to Knoxville, I said I want to do the Bijou Theatre,” said Blackwell, who won Best Singer in the Knoxville News Sentinel’s 2010 East Tennessee’s Best Reader’s Poll. “Every step along the way you just try and grow with every show. ‘Blue Sky’ was my first CD. We released that in 2010 at the Brown Cup of Coffee in Lenoir City, and there was like 20 people there. Then we did the ‘Brad Blackwell’ EP at a place called The Orangery in Knoxville, and there’s no reason you should be doing a show there, but we talked it up a bit and had like 200 people there, then did a show at another place in downtown Knoxville and had 350 there. We released ‘Fresh’ and had 500 there.”

“Combustible” features three songs Blackwell co-wrote with Wade Kirby, who penned George Strait’s No. 1 single, “I Saw God Today,” which garnered Grammy, ACM and CMA nominations.

Blackwell believes the project has helped focus his musical style.

“(The songs) are a little more country, and that was kind of a strategic move,” he said. “I’m from East Tennessee, it’s all Nashville players, I’m in Nashville all the time, I wrote it with Nashville guys, it’s like, why even try to fight it? Kind of the second we said we’re country, it’s almost like it enhanced that focus even more. If you can’t define yourself, it’s hard for people to go out and define you, so it’s a more focused step in the right direction and hopefully makes making that next step easier because you know who you are. That’s kind of what we feel like we’ve done with this.”

Now that his friend is an up-andcoming country singer, Sensabaugh said he’s going to have to brush up on his catalogue of country tunes.

“I know a few country songs, but now that one of my good friends is a country singer, I’m going to learn a few more so when I hear somebody singing country, I can argue my point with them about why my friend is better,” Sensabaugh said, laughing.

As for Sensabaugh, he’s settling into his new life of NFL stardom and looking forward to building on the Titans’ momentum in the latter part of the 2012 season.

“The toughest thing for this season was our record. I don’t feel our record really showed how good we were, but sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way, so all we can do is go back to working and build on what we did this year,” said Sensabaugh, a cornerback. “We started off kind of slow, but as the season went on, we got better and better. Our record may not have shown it, but we got better, so I’m excited at the direction the Titans are going and I’m happy to be a part of it.

“The biggest thing you have to adjust to is the business side of it. The football aspect of it doesn’t really change. The biggest change from the football aspect is you may be playing against somebody that you grew up watching as a kid. ... The first preseason game when we were out in Seattle, I was out there warming up and I seen Terrell Owens out there warming up. He was with the Seahawks, then, and I was like, man, I remember growing up watching him, I should go say something to him, then I was like, no. I stopped myself and I was like, I don’t think I can do that because I may be guarding him and I don’t want him to have one up on me, so I just kind of kept that to myself. Then when the regular season started, we started off with the Patriots and I seen Tom Brady out there warming up. I’ve grown up watching him, and he’s one of the best quarterbacks to play the game. After the first few games, though, it became the norm. It wasn’t as shocking.”

Sensabaugh is also focused on hosting his first free football camp — to be held June 15 at J. Fred Johnson Stadium in Kingsport for boys and girls ages 6-17 — and starting a nonprofit foundation in memory of his brother, Jamaar.

“That’s what it’s all about for me, giving back and just helping people any way I can,” Sensabaugh said. “The football thing, I don’t even look at it as a career. I just look at it as a short opportunity because I can’t do it forever, so while I’m here and I have the platform, I just want to help people as much as possible because that’s what people will remember about me when I’m dead and gone — what you did to help people. They won’t remember how many tackles you made.”

For tickets to the Feb. 22 concert, log onto  . To find out more about Blackwell, visit his website at  .

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Black History Month - Kingsport: 2013 Black History Program

Everyone invited to attend the annual Black History Program in Kingsport.

Location: Ebenezer Baptist Church, Rev. James Whiteside, Pastor, 1026 Maple Street, Kingsport

Date: February 17, 2013

Time: 4 PM

Speaker: Marion Smith, Jr., Atlanta, GA.

Subject: Commemorating 150 years of the Emancipation Proclamation, and 50 years since the 1963 March on Washington.

Sponsored by the New Vision Youth.

Black History Month - 2013 Annual Soul Food Gathering

Bring your appetites to the annual New Vision Youth Soul Food Gathering, on Friday, February 15th at 4:30 PM, until the food is gone.

The gathering will be held at 4 PM at the Riverview Community Room in the KHRA Building on Louis Street.

On the menu are soul food favorites like fried chicken, fried chitlins', venison, smoked neckbones, pig feet, meatloaf and fiferent casseroles. Also served will be soup beans, mac-n-cheese, greens, green beans, corn, cole slaw, fried cornbread and corn muffins.

If that doesn tickle your taste buds, from cabbage, ckicken and dumplins, rolls, baked beans, smoked barbeque, sliced chicken, sweet potatos, veggie tray, drinks and desserts.

The annual Soul Food gathering is free of charge.

The event is sponsored by New Vision Youth, the South Central Kingsport Community Development Corportion, Inc., and Friends of Distinction.

Black History Month - Kingsport: Field Trip to Swift Memorial - Price Public School

On Saturday, February 16th, the New Vision Youth of Kingsport and Riverview community leaders visited the Swift Memorial - Price Public School Museum in Historic Rogersville, Tennessee.

In 1868, a group of black community leaders purchased a plot of land on Hasson Street "for the purpose of building a schoolhouse for the education of colored children." In 1870, a two-room log school was erected and was used until 1922 when construction of this modern facility was begun. It is constructed of hand-fired bricks. The School was placed on the National Historical Register in 1988. One of the schoolrooms is devoted to a museum of Swift College and Price School memorabilia.

Swift Memorial College was a historically black college that operated in East Tennessee from 1883 to 1952. It was founded in Rogersville by the , a graduate of Maryville College and the African American pastor of a local Presbyterian congregation. Like many early black colleges, the institution focused on high school and normal school (teacher education) curriculum.


Created with flickr slideshow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Swafford, Foreman bound for UT

From Rev. Ricardo Dorcean



KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett’s Malik Foreman said receiving a football scholarship offer from the University of Tennessee in late December was like “Christmas, birthdays, everything” all rolled into one.

A roomful of coaches, family and friends gathered at Dobyns-Bennett’s Alumni Field House Wednesday afternoon to belatedly share his elation.

Foreman, who started out playing wide receiver and defensive back for the Indians and ended up leading D-B to the state quarterfinals at quarterback, signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Vols next fall.
Earlier in the day, Volunteer High School observed its first-ever Division I football scholarship when offensive lineman Conner Trent signed to play for Middle Tennessee State.

Upstairs at Dobyns-Bennett’s “Taj Mahal” overlooking J. Fred Johnson Stadium, ceremonies were conducted for seven college-bound athletes, including five football players.

It was a big deal for all. In Foreman’s case, it was a Big Orange Deal.

“I’’d been watching UT football ever since I was a little kid. It has always been my dream to play there. So when they offered I just jumped right on it,” said Foreman, who de-committed from Vanderbilt in order to accept Tennessee’s bid.
Also recognized Wednesday was Devaun Swafford, who will enroll at Tennessee next fall. Swafford has been promised a football scholarship as part of the 2014 recruiting class, possibly sooner.

Swafford was working out with Foreman when UT running backs coach Jay Graham called the D-B field house. Graham is the lone Derek Dooley staffer retained by new Tennessee head coach Butch Jones.

“It came out of nowhere. He offered us both. He offered me a gray shirt and he offered (Foreman) a full scholarship. It was pretty exciting,” said Swafford, who received offers from seven NCAA Football Championship Series programs, including Furman, Liberty and Tennessee-Chattanooga.

During the 2012 season, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Foreman rushed for 1,269 yards and 17 touchdowns, also passing for 464 yards and four scores. He also had 14 catches for 278 yards and four TDs.

The Indians MVP and Big 8 Player of the Year had three punt returns for touchdowns and returned one kickoff for a score. He could show up as a either a defensive back or receiver at UT. He had six interceptions, seven pass breakups and forced seven fumbles for the Indians in 2012.

The 5-11, 176-pound Swafford rushed for 1,242 yards and 26 touchdowns as a running back. He had 16 pass receptions for 289 yards and four TDs. As a defensive back, he garnered Big 8 Defensive Player of the Year honors with 125 tackles, two pass breakups and five interceptions.

D-B coach Graham Clark noted that Tennessee showed no interest in either player until several weeks after Foreman had committed to Vanderbilt. Foreman was unmoved.

After Dooley’s departure, however, it quickly became obvious that positive changes were afoot in Knoxville. Finding a way to keep Foreman and Swafford on the same team was a smart recruiting move on Tennessee’s part, Clark said.

“They’re best friends. They’re workout partners. You’ll come down here on a Sunday afternoon and you’ll see them down in the stadium. I don’t know which one of them has to climb the fence,” quipped Clark.

Dobyns-Bennett offensive lineman Thomas Edwards was certainly impressed by the new shade of orange. He said he turned down opportunities FCS programs including Tennessee-Chattanooga and Austin Peay in order to join Tennessee next fall as a preferred walk-on. He’ll get a chance to compete for a scholarship as part of the squad.

Another big man having a big day Wednesday was Volunteer’s Trent, a surefooted offensive and defensive lineman who made a powerful impression on several Indians during the Falcons’ otherwise ill-fated Big 8 game at D-B last fall.
Trent’s signing ceremony was moved to the gymnasium due to testing in the library. The change of venue accommodated a significant contingent of appreciative Volunteer students in addition to coaches, family and friends.

“I always felt like I’d have the opportunity to play somewhere. I’m just excited about the opportunity and blessed,” said the 6-5, 300-pound Trent, who was courted by several schools, including Appalachian State.

The youngster’s early commitment to the Blue Raiders never wavered.

“No way. They were after me from the spring time. I want to go somewhere I’m wanted and they wanted me the most and I feel like that’s the place I want to be,” said Trent, who said all the recent media focus on Appalachian State alumnus Daniel Kilgore has motivated him to continue excelling.

“Every kid’s dream is to play in the NFL and if he did it, I figure I have just as good a chance. Right now I just need to focus on playing college football and getting stronger for that,” Trent said.

Other Dobyns-Bennett football players participating in Wednesday's signing ceremony included 6-2, 250-pound defensive lineman Trevor Gilliam, who'll play Division II ball for the University of Charleston (WVa.) and 6-3, 300-pound defensive lineman Jacob Weisman, who'll play for Division III Maryville College.