The Douglass website published its very first post on December 29, 2006.
That means, today, the Tri-Cities' African-American community's information source is now officially 8 years old.
Considering the modern-day internet (the one we all use today), is only 20 years old, it means we have been around for half the life of the internet.
Not a bad recognition.
Thanks for supporting us!
Saturday, November 15, 2014
This story courtesy the Kingsport Times-News
By Matthew Lane
GREENEVILLE — The Johnson City Board of Education has agreed to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by an African-American mother who claimed her son suffered from mental and emotional distress while attending class at Indian Trail Middle School.
Danniele Madison, on behalf of her son Hilton, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Greeneville in October 2012. Among other things, the lawsuit claimed her son was routinely led to the cafeteria by a rope and tied to a desk with an extension cord.
According to court documents, the Madison family and the board agreed to a $7,000 settlement in October, with two-thirds of the money going to the family and one-third to Madison’s attorney.
Lee Patterson, the attorney for Johnson City Schools, said the settlement was covered by insurance and no money came from school funds.
The settlement agreement does not constitute any admission of guilt or wrongdoing on the part of the board or the school system and the board continues to deny all allegations in the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Hilton suffered a stroke at birth resulting in his right hand and arm being unusable. The young man also has difficultly walking, has been afflicted with learning disabilities, and is prone to breathing difficulties and seizures.
Eight years ago while enrolled in the sixth-grade special education class at Indian Trail, Danniele Madison claimed her son’s teacher routinely tied him to his desk with an electrical extension cord during the school day, and when lunchtime came, the teacher led her son to the cafeteria with a rope tied to his good arm, “much like a person would lead a goat.”
The lawsuit claimed the teacher, who is Caucasian, did not similarly mistreat the Caucasian special education students.
When Madison learned of these actions and called the middle school, an employee informed her the teacher only used the strap to keep Hilton from getting lost.
The lawsuit claimed that the school sent a letter home with Hilton explaining that he had been tied to his desk for reasons Madison “would not understand.”
After reading the letter, Madison contacted the Johnson City Police Department and the Department of Children’s Services, along with the school system’s special education director and Director of Schools Richard Bales, who reportedly told her he would “get to the bottom of it.”
However, no school administrator ever “got back” to Madison, and eventually Hilton became a homebound student for the next two years.
The lawsuit claims that Hilton’s teacher was allowed to retire.
Madison claimed the actions taken against her son were deliberate and malicious, and as a result her son suffered humiliation, stress and anxiety, which aggravated his pre-existing disabilities and caused more severe medical problems.
The lawsuit claimed Hilton was hospitalized and became comatose for three weeks, and upon returning home actually died for a brief period of time before EMS revived him through CPR.
Hilton had to undergo five surgeries at the Fort Sanders Children’s Hospital in Knoxville and underwent therapy to alleviate the stress and anxiety caused by the school system’s race discrimination, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit did not specify an amount of damages, but asked for compensatory damages for the mental and physical distress caused to Hilton.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
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Its beginnings were a lot more modest.
"We decided to expand it a bit and have some music, because more of the community were wanting to get involved," he says. "We noticed all the festivals around on the East Coast and around, and we decided to try and have a full-blown event here ourselves.. just a neighborhood gathering, so we started one down at Carver."
FLOODING ON BRUSH CREEK IN JOHNSON CITY - PHOTO COURTESY WJHL-TV
A huge flood along a branch of Brush Creek that flows alongside West Market Street in Johnson City, soon put an end to festivals at Carver Rec.
This year, the Umoja Festival is celebrating its 5th year downtown of celebrating cultural arts.
Between the stages, visitors were able to stop many booths along Market, Main, and Roan Streets. Most of them were food vendors, featuring everything from barbeque pork ribs, the always-popular whiting fish, tacos and brats, to funnel cakes, pastries and other carnival-type foods. Soft drinks, including water, tea and lemonade were also in high demand, because of the rising heat of the day.
A special event of the festival was a storytelling booth. Tucked in one of the several alcoves between streets in downtown Johnson City, was the Majestic Park Gazebo, where storytellers held the crowds spellbound with tales of interest, some of them made up, others taken from real life. The storytelling booth was sponsored by East Tennessee State University, in conjunction with its ETSU Storytelling Program. According to the school website, potential students who pursue the school's Master of Arts degree in storytelling, may "concentrate on performance skills for the sake of their present or intended professional storytelling career, or they may focus on aspects of applied storytelling, to enhance their roles as teachers, ministers, counselors, community workers, corporate trainers, healers, parents, grandparents, or any combination thereof."
"The addition of the storytelling booth is unique to our festival," says Davis. "The ETSU storytelling area adds a dimension nobody else has. The school builds its program around our festival, and they bring in national storytellers that we would never see, unless we go over to Jonesborough during the National Storytelling Festival they have every year."
As the Umoja Festival grows in size every year, Davis says plans for the future are clear. The event has grown into a full-blown festival.
"I would also like to see our attendance double in the crowd participation in the next few years," says Davis. "We always try to get entertainment, booths, and participants that we know everybody will like, especially family-oriented activities. Blending everything together is what helps us grow even further."
SLIDE SHOW OF THE 2014 UMOJA FESTIVAL, HELD AUGUST 8-9, 2014 IN JOHNSON CITY, TN -- IF THE SLIDE SHOW DOESN'T START AUTOMATICALLY, CLICK ON THE ALBUM NAME BELOW
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MARCHING BAND IN 2014 UMOJA FESTIVAL PARADE
All along the way, folks lined up to wave and grab candy thrown from some of the parade participants, sort of like the area Christmas parades. Except in this case, Santa had a distinct tan. And there were many of them. Not just one.
The elite of Johnson City's African-American community was on display during the Umoja parade. Rain the previous day, lowered the morning temperature, resulting in a huge turnout of people lining the street.
The highlight of the parade was the African Stilt Walkers, put on my the Kuumba Waoto group from Knoxville. They dazzled the crowd simply by maintaining their balance while parading down the street.
OBAYNA AJANAKU ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PASSING AFRICAN CUSTOMS DOWN TO YOUNG PEOPLE
STILT WALKERS PERFORMANCE AT END OF 2014 UMOJA FESTIVAL PARADE
The annual parade is sponsored by the Umoja Arts and Cultural, Inc.
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"After the Umoja Festival moved downtown from Carver Rec and Freedom Hall, we were talking about how good it was to get people together," says Young Adult stage coordinator Vicki Briscoe, "but then we thought 'what about the youth? We need something for the youth. They need their space, their area.. something that interests them. So then, we got to thinking 'well, what do the youth like?"
Briscoe says she remembers well, the first year of the Young Adult stage.
2014 RAP BATTLE AT UMOJA
By far, the one surprise every year is the Gospel Fest, held on the Young Adult stage every year. Surprising, because it's growing rapidly every year. This is also the 4th year for the collection of inspirational singing individuals and groups.
MISSIONARY KIMBERLY PETE, WORD OF GOD MISSION, BRISTOL, TN, PERFORMING AT 2014 UMOJA FESTIVAL
WITNESS GOSPEL GROUP FROM KINGSPORT, PERFORMING AT 2014 UMOJOA FESTIVAL
One of the Gospel performers this year was D-Higgz from Knoxville, a third-year veteran of Umoja's Gospel Fest. He's a Christian rap artist, and his real name is Darren Higgins.
D-Higgz says, he can tell if that message is reaching a receptive audience when he performs.
D-HIGGZ OF KNOXVILLE, PERFORMING AT 2014 UMOJA FESTIVAL
"Sometimes, it's a hit-and-miss," he says. "You can see some people getting the Word in the back and then on up towards the front. I try not to focus too much on the crowd. Once I get started, I'm into the music and the message. That's what I'm all about. The message could be moving through the crowd and I not even know it."
Later, the young adult crowd was dazzled by dances from the African Dolls. They're a group of young ladies based in Johnson City, from several different area churches.
AFRICAN DOLLS, PERFORMING AT 2014 UMOJA FESTIVAL
The Shaka Zulu Stilt Walkers paid a visit, and once again the crowd, especially the young people were mesmerized by the delicate balancing act of the dancers. Hovering several feet above the ground, many folks marveled at the way the dancers maintained their balance, including when the walkers incorporated dance steps in their stilt routines.
SHAKA ZULU STILT WALKERS AT THE YOUNG ADULT STAGE, 2014 UMOJA FESTIVAL
On both Friday and Saturday nights' DJ "Sterl the Pearl" entertained the crowd with a great selection of music. He is based in Knoxville, and has spent many years in radio, television and the world of entertainment.
"Sterl the Pearl's" real name should ring a bell for UT football fans.
The future of the Young Adult stage is as bright as the smiles on the faces of the young people who claim it as their own.
"Support from the community is important, and we always value new input."
SLIDE SHOW OF THE YOUNG ADULT STAGE -- IF SLIDESHOW DOESN'T START AUTOMATICALLY, CLICK ON ALBUM NAME BELOW
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It did not.
FAZE II BAND SERENADING THE LADIES IN FRONT OF THE UMOJA FESTIVAL'S MAIN STAGE
"Right now, we're pretty lucky. We can be selective in who we can take."
A SLIDESHOW OF THE MAIN STAGE -- IF THE SLIDESHOW DOESN'T START, CLICK ON THE ALBUM NAME BELOW TO START IT
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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And nobody knows why.
"This one has been so much different," she says. "Everybody is so jubilant, so keyed up.. they've been buying Langston souvenirs like crazy.. they seem so full of school spirit. Anything with Langston on it. I don't know what caused it. Everybody has been wanting to do something, wanting to get in on it.. what do you need done.. what help do you need, what can I do. I'm liking it, but I'm a little amazed."
"I tried to send out reunion letters that were upbeat and positive," she remembers. "I always talk about yesteryear and the Langston Spirit, and how we can't let that die. I try to tell them things that make them want to go 'yeah, I want to come back, I want to go there, I want to see what's going on. It's just been a different atmosphere in the whole thing this time. I can't put my finger on it, and I don't know what changed."
As Langston alumni gathered at the Carver Recreational Center on July 5th to register and meet and greet each other, Kenneth "Herb" Greenlee was hard at work on a project to honor former classmates who were memorable in school activities. Many of them went on to achieve fortune and honor in their respective lives, while living up to the school motto of "entering to learn, departing to serve."
Greenlee says he's been working on the mechanics of the Wall for some time.
"Many of their families came to Johnson City to live," Greenlee says, "and they came to Langston to learn."
"It's part of Langston's heritage," he says. "It's important and you don't let that be forgotten. That's what the Wall of Fame is all about."
The Langston Wall of Fame was just one area that got visiting alumni fired up during the 2014 Meet-and-Greet session.
There were many other events awaiting them, that made this a special reunion for the Langston faithful.
"This reunion will be just like a big homecoming, and we don't plan to let them get bored with nothing to do."
LET THE 2014 TOUR BEGIN!
MEMBERS OF THE LANGSTON ALUMNI GROUP TOURED SEVERAL PLACES, THAT ARE SPECIAL TO AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN JOHNSON CITY AND WASHINGTON COUNTY.
CLICK ON THE ALBUM NAME BELOW, AND AFTER THE SLIDESHOW, SEE THE OTHER STORIES THAT FOLLOW!