Monday, June 1, 2015
People are getting excited about commemorating the 50th anniversary of the closing of the schools, with an historic event called the "Great Golden Gathering - 2015," that remembers the good times and the wonderful educations we and our ancestors received, from the best schools in the region.
The Organizational Committee made up of representatives from the various alumni groups has been been meeting since March 7th, discussing ways to make the Great Golden Gathering a memorable one for both the schools' alumni, their descendants, and their respective communities. Although there are some organizations that have not been directly involved, nonetheless they are still included because, by default, they are one of the African-American schools. Pray, the Organizational Committee does not want to leave any alumni associations out, and any schools not contacted yet, are encouraged to please join the Committee. All opinions and suggestions are welcome. There are no bad ideas... all are suggestions to help make the Big Reunion a big success.
Most of the beloved schools closed for integration in 1965 (Swift in 1963, and Douglass-Kingsport 1966), and their combined alumni associations are planning a huge and historic reunion, to reconnect former students who interacted athletically, academically and socially when those schools were the backbone of our communities. These were African-American schools with fine teachers, who instructed us with loving care. These schools were the solid rocks of our communities, and by the grace of God, all or most are still standing today. Many are used as offices, some are community centers much like their roles of yesteryear, some are apartments, but some are empty shells. Sadly, a few are in fear of the wrecking ball.
LOCATION AND SCHEDULE
The historic "Great Golden Gathering - 2015" will be Friday August 28, Saturday August 29, and Sunday August 30, 2015. The location will be the Holiday Inn-Bristol Convention Center, 3005 Linden Drive, Bristol, VA 24202. The phone number is (276) 466-4100. We have a special discounted room rate for folks who are spending the night (s).. just mention that you're attending the "Great Golden Gathering - 2015" and you'll get the special room rate.
Plans are for a meet-and-greet session for all the alumni on Friday the 28th.... a picnic with school displays of memorabilia on Saturday afternoon the 29th.... a huge banquet event with speakers on Saturday night the 29th.... and a special church service on Sunday the 30th. Events on any given day are subject to change and modification.
The cost to attend is $100 dollars per person, with a $25 dollar non-refundable deposit due by June 15th (this helps us secure the venue, food accomodations, entertainment, etc.), but if you want to pay the whole amount, that would be wonderful and helpful. The $25 dollar deposit will be deducted from the $100 dollars, leaving only a balance of $75 dollars per person. Please make your check out to "Great Golden Gathering 2015" and mail it to Great Golden Gathering - 2015, 810 North Hill Drive, Johnson City, TN 37604. Your name (s) will be placed on the master list, to be checked off on the day of registration.
Our committees are working on the programs for this historic one-of-a-kind event, including souvenir programs and historic commemorative tee-shirts that can be purchased, along with grab-bags full of free items. We are also looking for corporate sponsorships to handle certain aspects of the event. The banquet will feature speakers and historic addresses, fitting tributes to the legacies of the finest schools in the region.
The 50th anniversary of any event is special. These were African-American schools with fine teachers, who instructed us with care and prepared us for the unknown.. a world struggling to accept us as the intelligent people we are. Our most important Big Reunion goal is to pass this part of our histories to our young people, to pick up the charge and carry the banners of our schools into the next generation. Our alumni numbers at all of our our beloved schools is dwindling fast, and we don't have a moment to lose. The Great Golden Gathering - 2015 may be the last and only time that all of us can be together to celebrate the one thing that binds us all.. our friendships and our common school bonds.
For more information, contact the Organizational Committee at email@example.com or call (423) 847-5139.
Please put the historic Great Golden Gathering event on your late August calendar. We may not have another chance at history.
THE 13 AFRICAN-AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS OF UPPER EAST TENNESSEE -
Bland High School, Big Stone Gap, VA
Douglass High School, Bristol, VA
Slater High School, Bristol, TN
Douglas High School, Elizabethton, TN
Douglass High School, Kingsport, TN
Langston High School, Johnson City, TN
Swift College High School, Rogersville, TN
Arty-Lee High School, Dante, VA
George Clem High School, Greeneville, TN
Morristown College West High School, Morristown, TN
Tanner High School, Newport, TN
Nelson-Merry High School, Jefferson City, TN
Austin High School, Knoxville, Tn
....And all of the associated African-American Elementary Schools in the area, who graduated students to attend these distinguished High Schools....