Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 Black History Month Events in Kingsport

Negro History Week began in 1926, launched by Carter G. Woodson, an early scholar of African-American history. Now, nearly 90 years later as Black History month, it has become a monthlong event, celebrated each February, to recognize the accomplishments and culture of African-Americans and promote awareness of black history.

Below are some events set to take place in Kingsport and the region to commemorate this very important part of our nation’s history.

• FROM NOW UNTIL FEBRUARY 29TH: Black History Month Art Exhibits, Kingsport Renaissance Center, Atrium, 2nd Floor, Center Street, Kingsport. Event free of charge. Display featuring African-American Professionals and Business Owners from Riverview. Also, artwork displays, featuring William Menya, Ethnic Art by Mark Anthony, and others.

• THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9TH: The Cultural Arts Division of Kingsport’s Parks and Recreation Department will present jazz singer Connye Florance in concert at 7 p.m., Feb. 9 at the Kingsport Renaissance Center. Tickets for “Colors of Jazz” are $12. The concert is sponsored by the Cultural Arts Division of Kingsport Parks and Recreation, Leisure Services for the city of Kingsport and Engage Kingsport. For more information or to order tickets to the concert, call (423) 392-8417 or visit

• TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14TH: Pro-Art Association, Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap, Va., and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise in Wise, Va., will host two concerts by jazz vocalist L’Tanya Mari on Feb. 14. The first concert will be held at 12:15 p.m. in Phillips-Taylor Hall of MECC’s Goodloe Center. The second performance will be an evening concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Chapel of All Faiths at UVA-Wise. Admission is free to both programs. For more information, call (276) 376-4520 visit

• FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17TH: City of Kingsport Parks and Rec Division of Community Services, in partnership with Riverview Boys & Girls Club and Riverview Residents Association presents Annual Soul Food Gathering, Friday, Feb. 17th, 4 PM to 5:30 PM, Riverview Community Center, 301 Louis Street, Kingsport. The event is free of charge. Come enjoy foods from past and present: homemade mac & cheese, collard greens, fried cracklin' bread, deer meat and rabbit, neck bones and potatoes, soup beans, chicken, sweeet potatoes and casseroles and more, with drinks and desserts. For more information, contact Johnnie Mae Swagerty, 429-7553 or Jessica, Riverview Boys & Girls Club, 392-2517. Everyone welcome. MM, MM Good, Fun, food & fellowship!

• SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18TH: "Come Get on the Bus" with New Vision Youth and Kingsport Parks & Rec, Community Services Division, Saturday, Feb. 18th, from 12 to 2 PM. Bus to Rogersville to tour the Swift-Price Museum. Pack lunch and Swift-Price will provide drinks. Everyone welcome, all ages. The event is free of charge. Contact Johnnie Mae Swagerty 429-7553 or Chassie Smiley-Freeman, 224-2420.

• SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19TH: New Vision Youth presents its annual Black History Program, Sunday, Feb. 19th, 4PM, St. Mark United Methodist Church, 929 Maple Street, Kingsport. Enmtertainment by various choirs, soloists & praise teams. Theme: Honoring Women of Color. Asking all women of color to attend, and be recognized. Contact Johnnie Mae Swagerty, 429-7553 to nominate a local woman of color. Everyone welcome!

• MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20TH: Help Our Potential Evolve (H.O.P.E.) will host workshops from noon to 6 p.m., Feb. 20 at the Kingsport Renaissance Center, 1200 E. Center St. Workshops to be offered include drumming, hosted by Rick Hick and Jenny Roger; an art class, hosted by Mark Anthony; African cuisine, hosted by Jerri Harrison; and face painting with the Boys and Girls Club. A Michael Jackson Wii Competition will provide first-place winners in different age groups with $100 Visa gift cards; second-place winners will receive $50 Visa gift cards. Workshops will be available for all ages, children and adults. For more information, email Stella Robinette at

• THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23RD: In honor of Black History Month, East Tennessee State University’s Mary B. Martin School of the Arts will host Jeff Obafemi Carr at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 23 at the V.A. Memorial Theatre stage in Johnson City. Carr’s one-man play, “How Blak Kin Eye Bee?” will feature Carr portraying a full cast of seven true-to-life characters who take audiences on a funny, touching and thought-provoking journey of discovering what it means to be African-American in today’s world. The 90-minute play features music, multimedia and audience participation. Tickets are $5 for students; $15 for seniors; and $20 for general admission. For more information, or to order tickets, call (423) 439-8587 or e-mail

Voices of Praise, Maryville College
• SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25TH: South Central Kingsport Community Development, Inc. presents 2012 COMMUNITY UNITY DAY, 5PM, at the Nancy Pridemore Little Theater, Dobyns-Bennett High School, 1200 Legion Drive, Kingsport. The event is free of charge. Entertainment: VOP (Voices of Praise) from Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee; TCB (Tri-Cities Blessed); Full Gospel Mission Church #2 Choir and Praise Dancers from Greeneville;
Kingsley United Methodist Church from Kingsport; Soloist Will McClintock; Hayden Thompson from the Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church, Kingsport performing a Gospel Mime; and Eddie Knight of Greeneville, reciting the poem "Two Halves."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Carver seeks history competition entries

• JOHNSON CITY — Carver Recreation Center in Johnson City is seeking entries for its Black History Month competition. The competition is open to all youth, and entries may be submitted in three categories: essay, PowerPoint and artwork. Fee is $5 per entry, and the deadline is Feb. 10. Gift certificates will be presented for first, second and third place in each category. Winners will present their works during a Black History Month program at the center, 322 W. Watauga Ave., on Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. A “Taste of the Community” will take place immediately following the presentations. Program admission is $5. For more information call Herb Greenlee, center supervisor, at 461-8830.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jubilee Singers preserving Negro spiritual tradition: Greeneville Appearance on Saturday

On Nov. 16, 1871, a group of unknown singers — all but two former slaves and many still in their teens — arrived at Oberlin College in Ohio to perform before a national convention of ministers.

After a few standard ballads, the Jubilee Singers presented a selection of spirituals and other songs associated with slavery. It was one of the first public performances of the secret music African-Americans had been singing in the fields and behind closed doors for generations.

“All of a sudden, there was no talking,” said Horace C. Boyer, a musicologist and former musical director of the Jubilee Singers. “They said you could hear the soft weeping…and I’m sure that the Jubilee Singers were joining them in tears, because sometimes when you think about what you are singing, particularly if you believe it, you can’t help but be moved.”

Nearly a century and a half later, the Fisk Jubilee Singers — an a cappella ensemble made up of vocal artists and students from Fisk University in Nashville — remain dedicated to keeping the Negro spiritual tradition alive and well.

The Singers will perform for a local audience at 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28 at Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville. The show is sponsored by Walters State Community College.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students and $17 each for groups.

The original Jubilee Singers introduced “slave songs” to the world in 1871 and were instrumental in preserving this unique American musical tradition known today as Negro spirituals.

They broke racial barriers in the United States and abroad in the late 19th century and entertained kings and queens in Europe. At the same time, they raised money in support of their beloved school.

In 1999, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were featured in “Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory,” a PBS award-winning television documentary series produced by WGBH-TV, Boston.

The Jubilee Singers went on a sacred journey to Ghana in 2007 at the invitation of the U.S. Embassy. It was a history-making event, as the ensemble traveled to Ghana for the first time and joined in the celebration of the nation’s Golden Jubilee, its 50th independence anniversary.

In 2008, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were selected as a recipient of the 2008 National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest honor for artists and patrons of the arts. The award was presented by President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush during a ceremony at the White House.

The Singers continue the tradition of singing the Negro spiritual around the world, allowing the ensemble to share this rich culture globally while preserving the unique music.

NPAC is located adjacent to Greeneville High School at 212 Tusculum Blvd. in Greeneville.

For tickets or more information, call the NPAC box office at (423) 638-1679 or visit

Enthusiasm undaunted at belated MLK observance in SW Virginia

MLK Day observance was delayed to allow students from UVa-Wise and the Flatwoods Job Corps Center to return from the holiday break and take part.



Stephen Igo —

From left, UVa-Wise students Shaqueth Green of New York City, Hantz-Jerry Pierre of Haiti, Rouqui Toure of Mauritania, and Blain Bekele of Ethiopia enjoy dinner for a belated MLK Day observance Monday at the Wise Church of God.

WISE — Folks in Wise held honors for the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a week later than the rest of the nation on Monday, but that made the tribute all the more special for the area faithful to his cause.

Sponsored by the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, MLK Day organizers wanted to hold off this year’s observances to allow students from the college and the area’s Flatwoods Job Corps Center to return from the recent holidays and take part as usual.

The wait provided some international flavor for at least one table at the annual fellowship dinner at the Wise Church of God. UVa-Wise students Hantz-Jenny Pierre, 22; Rouqui Toure, 21, of Mauritania; and Blain Bekele, 21, of Ethiopia, joined their pal Shaqueth Green, 21, of New York City to get a taste of a down-home MLK tribute, mountain style.

“I know he was an activist,” said Toure, amending her comment to “civil rights activist” prodded by discreet coaching from Green. “I know he fought his life for minorities.”

“For all people,” Green continued to coach.

Asked why they attended, Toure had a better question for her Caucasian table mates. “Why are you guys here?” she asked. “Support,” replied Sandy Meade of Pound. “Keep it alive.”

A week late or not, another upbeat crowd kept alive the Wise MLK Day observance, which would include the annual candlelight march from Wise Christian to Wise Baptist Church. Wise Baptist Pastor Ray Jones was featured speaker this year, and the always popular Mount Sinai Spirituals, an allmale gospel group from Lynch, Ky., was on hand for a sequel.
“Our group formed at our church just for us men to hang out. Then we started singing, and we’ve been at it ever since,” said Roy Stephens. “It’s a privilege to do it because we do it for God. We’re singing for the Lord.”

“It means a lot to me,” said group member Cleophas Maxie. “We like to spread God’s gospel around and just have us a time doing it.”

The group’s president, Rutland Melton, said the annual MLK observance “is a good thing, and we really enjoyed last year.”

Member Bennie Massey added the group has “been over here since they started doing it, what? Sixteen years? It’s just good to see the community coming together. That’s what it’s all about.”

Some other Spirituals members chimed in, including Patrick Perry, Ray Wilson and Terry Tinsley. “This has been going on about 16 years, so I’m very excited to be here again. Just serve the Lord, sing, and just glad to be here,” said Wilson.

Arthur Mabry of Lebanon brought his 4-year-old fireball of a son,
Peyton, for the celebration.

“I’m here about every year,” he said. “I’ll sort of get (Peyton) in on it early. Start bringing him every year so he’ll start catching on and see what it’s all about.”

Libby Stephens of Lynch brought her children, 9-year-old Carlee and 12-year-old Terrance, to partake of the celebrations as well. Libby is white and wants her children to delve into as much of their dual-race heritage as much as possible.

“Something like this helps give them some of their black heritage,” she said. “There’s not a lot in this part of the country for African Americans heritage-wise. So anything you can give them, you give them.”

Friday, January 13, 2012

Keystone residents in Johnson City dismayed by impending closure of Food Lion


NET News Service

Photo by Ron Campbell

Keystone area resident Delores Delaney talks about the impact that the closing of the Food Lion on East Main Street in Johnson City will have on her and her family. She will no longer be able to walk to the grocery store. Food Lion is the building on the right in the photo.

JOHNSON CITY — Keystone community resident Barbara Andes was wondering Thursday where she was going to get groceries when the nearby Food Lion closes down next month.
“I go there all the time,” Andes said. “It’s the only place around here, so that’s where we go all the time.”
Food Lion’s parent company, Delhaize America, based in Salisbury, N.C., plans to close 113 underperforming Food Lion stores, including the one at 1420 E. Main St. in Johnson City, the company announced Wednesday. This store will be closed in the next 30 days, the company said.
Andes has lived for about nine years in Keystone, a government housing complex in east Johnson City adjacent to the Food Lion. She said her family depends on Food Lion for groceries.
She had hoped the store would remain open because she has no car to conveniently go to another large grocer.
“I don’t want it to (close) because then me and my kids would be without food,” Andes said. “We don’t have no transportation to go get groceries. I don’t know what we’re going to do if we lose Food Lion.”
There are several discount stores near Keystone that sell food, and there is a gas station within walking distance. But Keystone resident Elizabeth Greer, who has nine people in her household, said those options are not sufficient because she makes one big grocery trip each month to Food Lion for everyone in her home.
“When you have to buy groceries enough for nine people, it’s going to be hard and stuff to buy that much groceries from one month to the next,” said Greer, who also has no car.
Food Lion still operates a store in Johnson City at 1320 Bristol Highway, but that is not within walking distance of Keystone. The nearest large grocery stores to Keystone would be two Hometown IGAs on North and South Roan streets and a Food City on South Roan.
Delores Delaney has lived in the Keystone community for about 17 years. She said there has always been a grocery store at the Food Lion location.
She said the loss of a convenient large grocery option within walking distance was a shock to many in the Keystone community.
“It’s going to hurt a lot of them because a lot of people around our community, they don’t have cars, and they have to walk to the store or grab a buggy and bring a buggy back with food, which is kind of inconvenient if they’re closing,” Delaney said.
Delaney goes to the store several times a week herself, she said. That loss of a grocer within walking distance will hurt, she added.
“It’s going to be a bind now because we’re probably going to have to get on the bus to go to Food City or (Hometown) IGA instead of going to Bristol Highway to the other Food Lion, which is a long distance from here,” said Delaney.
Greer agreed that it would be hard to go to another store for groceries without a car, especially carrying back a large load of groceries.
“It’d be hard to get there and back,” Greer said. “You’d have to either take transit or get food and come back in a cab.”
Other local Food Lion stores that will be closing are the Greeneville store at 2325 E. Andrew Johnson Highway and the Bristol, Va., store at 2012 Lee Highway.
For more information about the closings visit Food Lion’s Web site at

Monday, January 2, 2012