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Sunday, June 25, 2023

The Inspiration behind a wonderful mural by Dobyns-Bennett arts students to honor Douglass

The idea for a mural on a prominent hallway wall at D-B was a collaboration between Dobyns-Bennett High School fiber arts teacher Chris Hobbs and then-DB principal Dr. Chris Hampton.  They discussed ways of impressing the history of D-B upon their students, and in that discussion was a mention of how former African-American Douglass High School played an importantly huge role in the progression of Dobyns-Bennett.  It was then decided that a Douglass School mural for all to see in a prominent hallway at D-B would be a wonderful way of showcasing what Douglass meant to D-B's development.  Art students painted the mural in the spring of 2023 and received arts credit for the work.

In the first part of the interview with your Douglass website editor below, Hobbs talks about his discussions with Dr. Hampton on the Douglass mural.  Click PLAY to listen to that part of the interview:

In the second part of the interview below, Hobbs talks about the composition of the mural, including going on your Douglass website and researching the people and the elements of what will make the mural special, and later the Archives of Kingsport.  Click PLAY to hear the rest of the interview, which begins with a very familiar reference to Mr. Dobbins' reasons for his food garden:

And below in the next story, a picture tour of the mural.  


Honoring the Douglass Tigers: A Mural in the halls of Dobyns-Bennett High School, Kingsport, TN

Hail to the Tigers!  A mural honoring the Douglass High School Tigers, Kingsport Tennessee's former African-American high school from 1913 to 1966.  Painted by Christopher Hobbs' art class, Dobyns-Bennett High School, Spring 2023, located in the lower hallway of D-B, 1600 Legion Drive, Kingsport, Tennessee.  Click PLAY below to visit the mural:

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Douglass Alumni Board Meeting Announcement


Sorry this is late.

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board will have a specially-called meeting on Saturday, January 24, 2023.

The meeting will be in the Eastman Board Room, 2nd Floor of the V.O. Dobbins Complex Tower, 301 Louis Street, Kingsport.

The meeting begins at 1 PM.

At the meeting, board members and Douglass alumni will finalize plans for the upcoming Douglass Alumni reunion this weekend, June 30th and July 1st and 2nd.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Reflections on Juneteenth: What the celebration means for us

by Tanya Foreman, Kingsport Juneteenth 2023 Chair

June is one of my favorite months of the year. The kids are out of school for summer break, barbecue grills are firing up, swimming pools are open, and the great outdoors is calling with everything from whitewater rafting to road trips along the Tennessee mountains. Last but not least, June marks the official start of summertime.

A couple of years ago, the month of June took on a much deeper meaning, not only for me and my family, but for the entire country. In 2021, June 19 was declared a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.

It is a date that connects our nation to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, which stipulated that if the Southern states did not cease their rebellion to free enslaved people by Jan. 1, 1863, the proclamation would take effect.

However, it was not until June of 1865 that the order was delivered to Galveston, Texas, by General Gordon Granger. Texas would become the first state in the union to recognize June 19, aka Juneteenth, as a holiday in 1980. Today, all 50 states commemorate or observe Juneteenth as a day to celebrate freedom.

Freedom and liberty are now principles long synonymous with the United States of America. For centuries, these concepts have stood as beacons of hope for generations of immigrants from every corner of the globe. Many risked their lives and traded their roots for America’s promise, becoming hard-working citizens whose contributions helped make our country stronger, together.

Although we may not always agree and sometimes struggle with our differences, Juneteenth is a day to celebrate what we can all agree on — a love of freedom in the United States of America.

We encourage you and your family to come out and join us for a wonderful weekend of Juneteenth celebrations, beginning Saturday, June 17, in downtown Kingsport.

I am honored to serve as chair of the 2023 Juneteenth festivities. A proud employee of Eastman, I also serve as global chair of the Connect African American Eastman Resource Group (ERG).

It’s one of six ethnically and socially diverse ERGs at our company of 14,000 workers worldwide.

Eastman wants its efforts to promote a globally diverse workforce and inclusive work environment to extend to the communities it serves as well, by supporting events like Juneteenth. This year, Eastman is primary sponsor of festivities in partnership with the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce and other members of our business community. Together, we will honor and celebrate Juneteenth as a very important day in our nation’s history.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Kingsport Events to Celebrate Juneteenth


Here's a list of the events for Kingsport's Juneteeth festival:

Friday, June 16
Twilight Series Concert Downtown Band, 3rd Generation motown/Soul/Modern Pop

Saturday, June 17 - Juneteenth Festival

10 AM-10:45 AM - Unity Walk (meet at 10 at the Kingsport Higher Education building on Market Street)

12:00 Noon - Food trucks open
1:00 PM - Juneteenth Kickoff - Welcome by the first National Ms. Juneteenth, Saniya Gay

1:30 PM - Children's Activities - Gellyball, Corn Hole competitions

2:30 PM - Stilt Walkers/Drummers, Greek steppers

3:00 PM - Barber Shop Talk - barbers giving 40 free haircuts to 12 and under youth, while panel discusses challengers that Black people face in today's America.  Also, Fashion Show/Evolution of Black Hair and Hair Museum.

4:30 PM - Local R & B talent

5:00 PM - Tobias - Christian genre

7:00 PM - Reggae Band

This story by your website editor, courtesy the Kingsport Times-News, Thursday, June 15, 2023:


"It's all about unity."

Those words from a Kingsport African-American high school student, accurately sum up this Saturday's Juneteenth celebration.

June 19th (officially known as "Juneteenth") is America's newest federal holiday, continuing a tradition in communities of celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation.  The news reached Tennessee during the Civil War and set off many celebrations among enslaved African-Americans.  Even today, the meaning of Juneteenth is not lost on young Black people.  "It's a progression of how far we have come in history," says rising D-B sophomore Ezra Smith-Howard, "and how far we still have to go.  But Juneteenth isn't just an event for Black people... it's a time for everybody to come together and celebrate."

"Before it was declared an official federal holiday, it felt like Black people were celebrating in a vacuum," says Tanya Foreman, Kingsport Juneteenth 2023 Chair.  "It was almost like MLK Day... it meant something to Black people, but it was unconnected to the entire story in our history."

Last month, Tennessee recognized Juneteenth as a statewide holiday, and this year's festival promises a lot of events, many of them entertaining and some of them educational.  One of those, highlights barbershop talk.

"In the Black community, black barbers were referred to as Black surgeons," says Foreman.  "Black hair styling is one of the oldest crafts and industries in the world.  In the historical Black barbershop, a lot of the conversations and mentoring of young Black men took place.  On Saturday, we plan to give 40 free haircuts to kids under the age of 12 and while the barbers cut hair, they'll be taking part in a live, real-time panel discussion.  It's part of a national program highlighting barbershop talks and conversations that have proven very successful among young people.  It also includes a hair fashion show, demonstrating hairstyle evolution."

Juneteenth in Kingsport kicks off Saturday morning with a Unity Walk beginning at 10 AM at the Kingsport Higher Education Center downtown on Market Street and finishing at the Farmers Market.  Walkers will cover 1.9 miles (honoring the official federal and state holiday of June 19th).  At the main venue on Market Street, the first National Miss Juneteenth, Saniya Gay of Delaware will say a few words to begin the festival.

The barbershop talk session begins around 3 PM.  Other activities include stilt walkers, greek steppers and drummers, GellyBall and cornhole competitions for the kids, musical talent including local singers and performers highlighting gospel music, rap music, R and B and reggae music.  You'll also find food trucks, vendors, Umoja representatives from Johnson City, and "Sterl the Pearl," the popular DJ from Knoxville. 

Smith-Howard says he loves all the events, not any one more than the others.  But he loves even more, the togetherness of the festival.  "Juneteenth was a big thing in Black communities after the Emancipation Proclamation finally got to Tennessee," he says.  "I learn something new every time I go to the Juneteenth festivals and I've been to all of them in Kingsport."

As a student of history (he aims to join the U.S. Air Force after graduation from DB), Howard-Smith has read the recent news about Sullivan County commissioner Joe Carr labeling Juneteenth a "woke" holiday not worthy of recognition.  "It's pretty upsetting to know that someone with Sullivan County does not want to celebrate the end of slavery in this country," the 15-year old says.  

Carr sparked mostly outrage in the community with his comments, but Smith-Howard dismissed the commissioner's Juneteenth reaction.  "I'm not really focused on him," he says.  "He is not my priority.  He probably doesn't know about Black History.  He needs to read up and understand why Juneteenth is important to all people, not just Black people.  I will go to the event and enjoy it because I believe in the celebration of the freedom from slavery."

The Sullivan County Commission did vote 17 to 4 to make Juneteenth a countywide holiday.  Organizers hope it becomes an annual event in Kingsport.

"Eastman is proud to be a Platinum sponsor of Juneteenth in Kingsport," Foreman says.  She serves as the company's Education Initiatives Manager and Global Chair of its Connect Employee Resource Group.  "The company is trying to create a community that is more inclusive, and supporting events like Juneteenth is another opportunity to do that."  The Kingsport Chamber is another Platinum sponsor, along with Gold sponsors Ballad Health and Christ Fellowship.  The Silver sponsors are Eastman Credit Union and First Horizon, and Bronze sponsors HOPE - Help Our Potential Evolve and the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority.  The Copper sponsors are the 400 Years of African-American Commission, the Powell Valley Bank and Wheelhouse Print and Design.

"Juneteenth is a big deal," Smith-Howard says.  "Black history changed with the end of slavery.  It was a big moment back then and it's a big moment to re-live what our ancestors must have felt when somebody told them they were free.  On Saturday, we unite to have that same feeling and celebrate it."

Sullivan County Commissioner Joe Carr: "Juneteenth has nothing to do with Tennessee"

Courtesy the Kingsport Times-News, Wednesday June 14, 2023 written by Joe Carr, Sullivan County Commission, District 9:

A few weeks ago, the Sullivan County Commission added Juneteenth as a paid holiday for county employees. I objected and voted no.

Sadly, I and other commissioners who voted the same way have received threats of political violence, which is always wrong, and not just on Jan. 6 of 2021.

First, to be perfectly clear, no one supports slavery or opposes celebrating emancipation.

Slavery has been universally condemned as a great stain on our past, a sin that has been sadly common across the ages and around the world and is not unique to our continent.

While Juneteenth is indeed a celebration of freedom, for activists on the extreme far left, it is intended as a Trojan Horse for the 1619 Project, a factually discredited revisionist curriculum that woke ideologues want taught in our schools to brainwash future generations with the false claim that the American Revolution was only fought to preserve slavery.

The 1619 Project is an element of a Marxist religion called “wokeness” often associated with Critical Race Theory, a dogma that seeks to train Americans to see all “black and brown” people as helpless victims oppressed by “systemic racism,” and all Caucasians as racist oppressors due to the original sin of “white privilege,” a scarlet letter which no amount of repentance can ever atone for or wash away.

That worldview is endlessly divisive. In fact, classifying people by skin color was the definition of racism just a decade ago — the exact opposite of what Martin Luther King taught us, that no person should be “judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Unlike the radical left that has now rejected it, most Sullivan County citizens still believe in Martin Luther King’s dream and reject the slander that America is a racist nation.

Juneteenth itself has nothing to do with Sullivan County or Tennessee. It celebrates the anniversary of an 1865 order proclaiming freedom for slaves in Texas. Would it not make more sense to honor the day slaves were freed in Tennessee instead?

More broadly, what is the limiting principle on commemorative holidays? How many more days off must our taxpayers work and pay to support? And will we allow far-left ideology to influence future holidays on our county’s calendar?

Sullivan County employees already receive 10 other paid holidays a year, not counting election days, and by the time you add all of those up, you’re looking at a cost of over $1 million annually. That cost was not considered, and several county commissioners who are also county employees did not recuse themselves from the vote.

Many forget that conservatives originally opposed Labor Day because it came from the progressive labor movement, which had its roots in globalist socialism.

Columbus Day, which in many parts of the country has been canceled for the sake of “political correctness” and replaced with “Indigenous People’s Day,” was established in 1892 after the largest mass lynching in American history in New Orleans when a mob murdered 11 Italian immigrants.

How long until we are asked to close down county operations for the Transgender Day of Visibility or Karl Marx Day, or, dare I say, Pride Day?

And why should only one side of the aisle get to emotionally blackmail the public calendar?

Why not give county employees another day off on June 24 and call it “Human Life Day” to mark the anniversary of Dobbs vs. Jackson, the decision that overturned Roe vs. Wade’s unconstitutional verdict that blessed the slaughter of over 70 million innocent unborn babies on the bloody altar of sexual gratification.

So, Juneteenth?

Fine by me.

But two sides can tango, and I’m ready for the conservative majority to join the dance.




As you can read above, Sullivan County Commissioner Joe Carr is  again, doubling down on his objection to celebrating the end of slavery in this country, although he does say "no one supports slavery, or opposes celebrating emancipation."  Well thank you Commissioner Carr... that is mighty white of you.  

In the dribblish, rambling "but what about" column he wrote above, he says Juneteenth has nothing to do with Tennessee.  In your website editor's opinion, that's like saying we should not celebrate Christmas in Tennessee because the birth of Jesus happened in Israel, not here.  Following Carr's logic, Tennessee and Kingsport should not observe Thanksgiving because the first Thanksgiving and its celebration happened in Massachusetts, not in Tennessee.  Any observance of Easter is out the window (Easter is not even a federal or state holiday)... but Easter has nothing to do with Tennessee anyway.  Carr's ridiculous reasoning makes no sense.

He also laments about the "threats" that he and other commissioners who voted his way about Juneteenth have received.  What did the commissioner expect, when he makes a ridiculous suggestion in public about recognizing a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery?

So far, Carr has offered no opinion of the national and Tennessee official observance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Day, except to not include the  "Reverend" and "Doctor" in reference to King's name.  One can only assume that he has a problem with Dr. Martin Luther King Day as well... luckily, no one has questioned him about it.  Yet.

A reminder to everyone.. please come to the Juneteenth celebration in Kingsport this coming Saturday.  Please stand up to perceived racism from a public figure who promised at his inauguration to represent all of the people in his district, whom he claims "are against Juneteenth."  So far, only one email to the County Commission has supported him.. every other communication has condemned his bigotry.

Get ready to dance, Commissioner... instead of the tango, let's twist.

--------Calvin Sneed, your website editor

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Agenda for the Douglass Reunion on June 30th, July 1st and 2nd, 2023


Your Douglass Alumni Board of Directors has hammered out the agenda for the upcoming reunion, and here it is:


4 PM - Registration in the Douglass Room, V.O. Dobbins Community Center, 301  Louis Street.

 4 PM to 12 Midnight  - Social, Meet-and-Greet with refreshments, Douglass Room.  Music from DJ Jeremy Ford.  Open Mike for alumni to share memories of Douglass School and the Riverview Community.


12:30 PM - Registration continues in hallway of the V.O. Dobbins Community Center, 301 Louis Street.

6:00 PM - Doors open for banquet, Douglass Room, V.O. Dobbins Community Center, meet-and-greet.

7:00 PM - Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Banquet, Douglass Room, V.O. Dobbins Community Center.  Dinner and guest speakers.

9:00 PM to 12 Midnight - After Party, Douglass Room with DJ Jeremy Ford.


11:00 AM - Doors open for Cookout/Memorial Service, Douglass Room, V.O. Dobbins Community Center, 301 Louis Street.

 1:00 PM - Cookout, Douglass Room, V.O. Dobbins Community Center.

 TBA During the Cookout - Memorial Service with speakers for Douglass Alumni


There will be speeches, extra good food, music, good fellowship, special guests and lots of love.  Come hungry because we have also put together a great menu of food for each individual event listed above.  You will get full and Riverview is still a good walk to shed all those calories LOL!

You'll also have plenty of time on your own to explore Riverview, Kingsport (you won't recognize the Brickyard and Clay Hill), and other things to visit in the area (including the Bristol Casino if you choose).

We will see you soon.   Any updates will be posted here.

Have a safe trip home to Riverview!  We can't wait to see you!

Sullivan County Commissioner Meant What He Said: Doubles Down on Comments

          Sullivan County Commissioner Joe Carr, 11th District (Lynn Garden, Ridgefields)

This article courtesy the Kingsport Times-News by reporter Cliff Hightower, 6/10/2026

KINGSPORT — Several people asked for Sullivan County Commissioner Joe Carr to resign or be disciplined following comments made about Juneteenth, a Times News public records request shows.

Carr, though, said he would not back down from comments he made three weeks ago during a County Commission meeting, when he said he wouldn’t vote on a resolution to make Juneteenth a county holiday because it is a “woke holiday.”

“It is unacceptable, but not unexpected, that extremists would make threats against public servants, even ones with young children,” Carr said in a statement. “The Sullivan County Commission will not be intimidated by radical thugs who would turn our community into an anarchist hellhole like Portland.”

The Times News requested email and telephone records that came into Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable’s office regarding the Juneteenth Sullivan County Commission vote during its regularly scheduled business meeting on May 18.

A resolution was brought up during the meeting to officially adopt Juneteenth as a county holiday. It is a national and state holiday.

Carr voiced opposition, though, alluding to recent events in Nashville that led to protests and the ouster of two state legislators.

Established as a national holiday two years ago, Juneteenth — celebrated on June 19 — commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It coincides with the day that U.S. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and declared all enslaved people free. Galveston was the last holdout of slavery in the South after the Civil War.

The commission approved making Juneteenth a county holiday in a 17-4 vote. Carr and County Commissioner Hershel Glover, Joe McMurray and Jessica Means voted no.

The records the Times News received included three emails and five phone calls. Of the five phone calls, four were from out-of-state phone numbers.


Those voicing frustration in the records demanded that Carr be disciplined, and the majority called his comments racist. The one caller from a 423 area code said he supported all four who voted against the resolution.

“We support Mr. Joe Carr, Hershel Glover, Joe McMurray and Jessica Means in their opposition to Juneteenth as a Sullivan County holiday,” the caller said.

But others disagreed. One person who emailed said she was looking for property in Sullivan County but was “thrown off” by Carr’s comments.

“The fact he went to a public hearing and stated that Juneteenth is ‘woke’ (not used in its original and correct matter and instead used as a cover for racism) and used the term ‘these people’ is disgusting,” the email read. “It’s a blemish on your community. It’s very disappointing.”

Another email states the person lived in Means’ district and was “blocked” from her Facebook.

“I do believe it is my First Amendment right to be able to comment on my commissioner’s public Facebook page used as part of her service as commissioner,” the email read.

Another person who emailed said Carr would have a different perspective if he were Black.

“Commissioner Joe Carr is a real fool for calling Juneteenth a ‘woke’ holiday,” the email stated. “He is the type of backwards redneck that gives the County and Tennessee a bad name. Why can’t people just be kind and respectful of each other? If he were a Black person he’d understand the importance of Juneteenth to the Black race in this country. Shame on him.”


One commissioner said there is a human element to what happened after the vote.

Means said she never blocked anyone from her social media pages.

“I had to delete all my social media because of all the threats and hate that was going on,” she said.

She said she has three children and she was worried about the impact on them.

“I thought that was the appropriate thing to do at that time,” she said.

Means said she is not sure when or if she will bring back her social media pages. She said her “no” vote was because she was trying to find more answers.

“I had many more questions about what was going on,” she said. “But people just jumped to assumptions.”

Means said anyone can call her at anytime and that she’s open to speaking about any of her votes.

“People can call me at any time,” she said. “I’m not some faraway, out-of-touch person.”

Editorial Note:  As we have stated previously, The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association condemns the comments of Sullivan County Commissioner Joe Carr.  We, as a group, are dismayed and disillusioned first by his comments, and even more dismayed by his doubling down on  those comments.  

We know that prejudice, bias and bigotry have long roots, that eventually intertwine inside a person's soul.   We condemn in strong terms his doubling down on his comments.  First, we urge every citizen of Kingsport, Black and White to attend the Juneteenth celebration this coming Saturday, June 17th.  While we celebrate the freeing of our ancestors 160 years ago, don't forget we, both Black and White, also lived through Jim Crow, the plague that has once again reared its ugly head in the form of a very vocal Sullivan County commissioner.   We, as a community need to rally and support the theory that all men are created equal:  ALL MEN, Commissioner Carr.   Yeah.  All men.

While we don't like what Carr said and the references he makes and defends, we as residents, former residents, friends and neighbors and as a people in general, should be JUST AS VOCAL against those comments.  We can show our enthusiam against hate by coming to Juneteenth next Saturday the 17th.  I (your editor) once heard an old description of human behavior: "when Man does not understand something, he automatically becomes fearful of it."  It is our opinion that Commissioner Joe Carr is afraid of us as a people.  He is a public figure that apparently has never tried to get to know the people of his district (and yes, there are African-Americans and other minorities in his legislative district).  

Let's get down to basics.  Has Joe Carr ever physically MET a Black person?  Has he ever "encountered" a Black person in the store, at a school athletic event or in the checkout line in front of him?  Has he ever actually SPOKEN to an African-American or other minority?  Did the good citizens of the 11th District know what they were getting when they elected him, a la George Santos?  These are not silly questions.  They are simple questions that eat at the root of prejudice and bias in this country.

But what happens after Juneteenth?  We minorities have to live with Joe Carr after the celebration on June 17th.  His apparent misunderstanding and what we perceive as a hatred of African-Americans and other minorities will live on.  That's the thing about cancer.... you can treat it, you can radiate it, use chemotherapy.... eventually, you might even hide it or eradicate it.  Cancer never, ever goes away.  And when it comes back, it always comes back with a vengeance, stronger and more powerful.  Eventually, it will smother the person's life.  Your last words will define your trip through eternity.

 We would like to suggest a meeting between Sullivan County Commissioner Joe Carr and high level members of the county's African-American community, and call upon Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable to facilitate such meeting as soon as possible.  The meeting should be imminent, immediate and instant.  The purpose would be a discussion of the issues and problems that Commissioner Carr believes are prevalent in the overall picture of Kingsport, and the problems that African-Americans KNOW are prevalent.  If he has never talked to an African-American or other minority, as a public official, he needs to have that opportunity.  No one wants to live and work in a community when some parts of city or county government are not on the same page... where legislators are not talking to "those people" as Carr made reference to, who by the way live in their community.  

Our hearts hurt at the communication revealed in the above newspaper article from the prospective new resident of our community, who is now not considering her decision to buy property in Kingsport, dismayed at Carr's comments.   Can we risk even ONE decision by a newcomer not to relocate to our community?  No, not one.  Carr has now given the group "Move to Kingsport" much more work to do.

A meeting with Carr.  Let's do it.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board Meeting on Saturday

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board will meeting on Saturday, June 10, 2023 for its regularly scheduled meeting.

The meeting will be held in the Eastman Board Room on the 2nd floor of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Tower, 301 Louis Street, Kingsport.  The meeting starts promptly at 1 PM.

We'll be discussing the upcoming Douglass Alumni reunion.  Please come and bring a friend!

In the meantime, we keep hearing from people who claim they have never heard whether we were having a reunion this year.  Why?  Because they do not give us their correct contact information and if they did, the information is not correct and up to date.  To clear up the confusion, "contact information" is name, address, phone number and/or email address.

So here's a challenge for everybody.  If you are reading this, please call or contact at least 5 (five) other Douglass alumni, and ask them if they know that the Douglass alumni are having a reunion.  If they didn't know and don't have a computer, tell them to bring the $50.00 registration (and alumni membership) fee and just come on down to the Douglass Room at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center on Friday, June 30th at 5 PM.  We'll fill them in on the weekend's events then.