Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Challenge from Alumnus Larry Bowditch

This is how I am challenging myself to "get better".

Are you big enough to take it on, too?

Spend one hour today, just one, totally focused on the wants, needs and interests of others.. and not yours.

Who has done it for One, Full, Hour?

All the Best to you,
~ Larry

Sister's Kidney Donation Condition of Mississippi Parole

JACKSON, Miss. – For 16 years, sisters Jamie and Gladys Scott have shared a life behind bars for their part in an $11 armed robbery. To share freedom, they must also share a kidney.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour suspended the sisters' life sentences on Wednesday, but 36-year-old Gladys Scott's release is contingent on her giving a kidney to Jamie, her 38-year-old sister, who requires daily dialysis.

The sisters were convicted in 1994 of leading two men into an ambush in central Mississippi the year before. Three teenagers hit each man in the head with a shotgun and took their wallets — making off with only $11, court records said.  Jamie and Gladys Scott were each convicted of two counts of armed robbery and sentenced to two life sentences.

"I think it's a victory," said the sisters' attorney, Chokwe Lumumba. "I talked to Gladys and she's elated about the news. I'm sure Jamie is, too."

National NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous thanked Barbour in a news conference Thursday at Mississippi's capital, calling the suspension of the sentences "a shining example" of the way a governor should use the power of clemency.  Civil rights advocates have for years called for the sisters' release, saying the sentences were excessive. Those demands gained traction when Barbour asked the Mississippi Parole Board to take another look at the case.

The Scott sisters are eligible for parole in 2014, but Barbour said prison officials no longer think they are a threat to society and Jamie's medical condition is costing the state a lot of money — approximately $200,000 a year, according to Mississippi Department of Corrections Spokesman Kent Croker.

Lumumba said he has no problem with the governor requiring Gladys to offer up her organ because "Gladys actually volunteered that as part of her petition."  Lumumba said it's not clear what caused the kidney failure, but it's likely a combination of different illnesses over the years.

Barbour spokesman Dan Turner told The Associated Press that Jamie Scott was released because she needs the transplant. He said Gladys Scott will be released if she agrees to donate her kidney because of the significant risk and recovery time.  "She wanted to do it," Turner said. "That wasn't something we introduced."

Barbour is a Republican in his second term who has been mentioned as a possible presidential contender in 2012. He said the parole board agreed with the indefinite suspension of their sentences, which is different from a pardon or commutation because it comes with conditions.  An "indefinite suspension of sentence" can be reversed if the conditions are not followed, but those requirements are usually things like meeting with a parole officer.

The Scott sisters have received significant public support from advocacy groups, including the NAACP, which called for their release. Hundreds of people marched through downtown Jackson from the state capital to the governor's mansion in September, chanting in unison that the women should be freed.

Still, their release won't be immediate.  Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said late Wednesday that he had not received the order. He also said the women want to live with relatives in Florida, which requires approval from officials in that state.

In general, that process takes 45 days.

Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson said the Scott sisters' release will be "a great victory for the state of Mississippi for two individuals who received an excessive sentence" and he has no problem with the kidney donation requirement because Gladys Scott volunteered.

"I think it's encouraging that she's willing to share a kidney so her sister can have a better quality life," Johnson said.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Henderson is wrong about Obama

Henderson is wrong about Obama

Published November 19th, 2010 in the Times-News

I would suppose that one answer to Cecilia Henderson’s question, “What could President Obama do that would get the approval of the narrow-minded people in Tennessee?” might be to resign. Based on his approval ratings, resigning would get the approval of more voters than those “narrow-minded people” in Tennessee. But that would not appease Ms. Henderson, who by her comments appears to be narrow-minded also. I strongly disagree with Ms. Henderson, who does not speak for anyone but herself, that criticism of President Obama is because he is black.
It seems to me that all of the presidents since 1960 have endured their share of criticism and abuse from the media, the public and the butt of jokes by late night talk show hosts. One major difference among the men elected president prior to Obama is they all had experience in business, leadership in politics or the military, something President Obama does not have. And for the record, President Obama is not black. He is the son of one white parent and one black parent and so mixed black and white ancestry and therefore is a mulatto. Use of the term mulatto varies widely, and a majority of people of mixed white and black ancestry choose not to identify themselves as mulatto, but prefer African-American or another adjective other than white.

Bill Killen
Church Hill

DOUGLASS WEBSITE EDITOR'S NOTE:  Many African-Americans do not like the term "mulatto" because of its association to slavery and colonial and racial oppression, according to Wikipedia.  We only include it in the above letter because of the historical context.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Letter to the Editor: Bashing of Obama racially motivated

What could President Obama do that would get the approval of the narrow-minded people in Tennessee? Every move he makes there is someone waiting to criticize him. Why are we so hard on this one president? I know. And the people who are giving him so much grief know, but they don’t have the courage to say it. So I will say it for them. The president is black.

Cecilia Henderson Kingsport

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What Happens When a Tower Demolition Goes Way Wrong!

“Oh no.”

Near Springfield, Ohio, those were some of the last words heard before shouts to get back as the old Mad River Power Plant’s 275-foot tower toppled in the wrong direction about noon Wednesday.

The blasts should have sent the stack onto a cleared area directly to the east, but instead the tower crashed to the southeast.


No one was injured but the tower knocked down two 12,500-volt power lines and smashed a building housing back-up generators.

The electrical lines came crashing down as a crowd of about 25 media members, FirstEnergy Corp. employees, demolition crews and their family members scattered to avoid the live lines.

“It just started leaning the other way and I thought, ‘Holy cow’ ... It was terrifying for a little bit,” Springfield Twp. Fire Chief John Roeder said.

About 4,000 customers on the west side of the city lost power for more than two hours and traffic lights in at least nine intersections went down.

The explosives detonated correctly, but an undetected crack on south side of the tower pulled it backward, said Lisa Kelly, president/owner of Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc.

“It’s property damage and it’s not life,” she said. “That’s the most important thing — that no one was injured.”

Demolitions are a highly technical process.

“(But) it’s not without some uncertainty,” said Tim Suter, FirstEnergy manager of external affairs.

All of the debris landed on the FirstEnergy property and none of it went into the Mad River or onto the nearby railway tracks. An estimate of the cost of the damage wasn’t available Wednesday.

Suter said he hasn’t seen anything like it before.

“Fortunately no one was injured,” he said.

FirstEnergy has worked with the demolition contractor, Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc., on other jobs, Suter said, and a lot of preparation went into the project.

“They’ve taken other towers twice the size of this one down without anything going on,” he said.

The Idaho-based, family-owned company has been featured in a series on TLC, according to its website. They travel the country with their children doing demolitions.

The AED website says that Eric Kelly has “a perfect safety record of no accidents in 27 years.”

AED President/Owner Lisa Kelly said the crack in the tower pulled it in the wrong direction.

The most important fact is that no one was injured, Kelly said, because property can always be reconstructed.

Cleanup will be handled efficiently, she said.

“Nobody’s happy with things that go wrong in life, and sometimes it’s out of our hands and beyond anybody’s prediction ... We’re all extremely thankful no one was injured or hurt,” she said.

The plant dates to the 1920s and was last used nearly 30 years ago. FirstEnergy began razing it this summer as a company-wide effort to cleanup old sites.

Springfield Twp. Fire Chief John Roeder came to observe the tower demolition Wednesday and had fire trucks nearby if needed.

Once he saw the tower heading the wrong direction, Roeder wanted to clear the area under the wires as quickly as possible, and feared it might strike a substation and start a fire.

“It was definitely a sight to see,” Roeder said.

The power lines nearly fell on several news crews staged in the area.

“We just ran,” said Eric Higgenbotham, a WHIO-TV videographer. “We were standing underneath the power lines, it was like the end of the world. We were running for our lives.”

At least nine intersections on the west side of the city lost power, and officers were dispatched to direct traffic, said Sgt. Brian Radanovich, Springfield Police Division.

One minor crash with no injuries at High Street and Wittenberg Avenue was reported during the outage.

Fewer intersections were disabled in past power outages, he said.

“This is probably the most we’ve had in awhile,” he said.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Americans Sure Have Short Memories


After The 8 Years Of The Bush/Cheney Disaster, Now You Get Mad?

You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and
appointed a President.

You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to
dictate Energy policy and push us to invade Iraq.

You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no
threat to us.

You didn't get mad when we spent over 800 billion (and counting) on said
illegal war.

You didn't get mad when Bush borrowed more money from foreign sources
than the previous 42 Presidents combined.

You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars in cash just disappeared
in Iraq.

You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn't get mad when Bush embraced trade and outsourcing policies
that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the country.

You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping

You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden.

You didn't get mad when Bush rang up 10 trillion dollars in combined
budget and current account deficits.

You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

You didn't get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.

You didn't get mad when we gave people who had more money than they
could spend, the filthy rich, over a trillion dollars in tax breaks.

You didn't get mad with the worst 8 years of job creations in several

You didn't get mad when over 200,000 US Citizens lost their lives
because they had no health insurance.

You didn't get mad when lack of oversight and regulations from the Bush
Administration caused US Citizens to lose 12 trillion dollars in
investments, retirement, and home values.

You finally got mad when a black man was elected President and decided
that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are
sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, job losses by the
millions, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, and the
worst economic disaster since 1929 are all okay with you, but helping
fellow Americans who are sick...Oh, Hell No!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Message from former Kingsport Mayor Jeanette Blazier

"The dedication ceremony (for the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex) was one of the most inspiring we've had in Kingsport! Thanks to you and so many others who have worked tirelessly to make this long time dream a reality. I'm very thankful and 'my cup is running over' a week later. Calvin, you and many others should be on cloud nine! I'm there with you. In 1996 when Jalisa Ferguson was killed, I started working with a wonderful steering team that helped the neighborhood begin to create a vision for Riverview. The highest priority out of those neighborhood sessions was the renovation of V.O. Dobbins and specifically a community room/center. Praise God you have it in 2010! I am filled with joy!"

Jeanette Blazier

Monday, September 27, 2010

V.O. Dobbins Complex Is A Welcome Addition to the Community

Like Van, watching the slide show of the newly renovated Douglass, I, too, became emotional. For all of us who were taught and cared for at Douglass High School, the social services now located in Riverview and across the city, will now be more understood by those citizens in Riverview and across the city.

Finally, Riverview is a part of the City of Kingsport.

Congratulations to those citizens of the City and County who worked hard to make this happen. Yes, Mr. Dobbins, Mr. Gill, Mr.Young, Coach Deering, Mr. Baylor, Mr. Hendricks, Mrs. Shannon, Mr. Thomas, would be proud; however, let's not forget Mrs. Dobbins, who worked tirelessly to support her husband as she, too, taught and cared for and helped her students and friends and neighbors. I often observed Mrs. Dobbins out and about in the community. Again, congratulations, also, to the Douglass Alumni Association for their part-a job well done.

Rosemary Gray

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nice event

I attended the New Vision Youth Grandparents Day luncheon at the Civic Auditorium. This event was real nice. The New Vision youth kids were very mannerable and helpful in helping the grandparents get their lunch and drinks. The homemade soups were very tasty and good — that tea was out of this world.
I have never seen an event free to the public, which I was told they’ve done this for three years with no charge.
Grandparents that didn’t attend missed a tasty event. They even gave out nice door prizes. I admire how has their free events and doesn’t charge. Kingsport needs to attend the New Vision Youth events. Youth came from all over as far as Gate City and Johnson City to be of help to the community. Ms. Johnnie Mae, keep up the good work with these youth. Your blessings are coming.

Mrs. Loretta Collins

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dialysis extending life for many



Four years ago life was pretty normal for one senior Kingsport resident. Charmie Horton worked with children, attended services at First Baptist Church, Kingsport, and enjoyed time with friends and family.

On a day that began like any other, she was feeling fine and taking care of chores. By afternoon, she began to having breathing difficulties. “I don’t know what happened to me,” she said, still bewildered.
Unable to get enough air to call for help, she motioned for a neighbor who contacted 911. She gazed back at her home as they loaded her into an ambulance. “When I looked back at my gate, I thought I’d never be back,” Horton recalled.
When she did finally see her gate again, it was three weeks later. She returned home from the hospital with two new diagnoses –– diabetes and chronic kidney failure. Without a kidney transplant, dialysis was her only hope.
“I was in Indian Path for three weeks. When I got ready to go home, Dr. (Abrar) Ahmad told me, ‘When you go to dialysis, you treat it as if you’re going to a job every day.’ I’ve learned that is the truth.
“There are days you don’t feel like getting up at five o’clock to get ready to come here. Something says you’ve got to go and you do. You don’t lay out. You don’t miss your treatment. This is your lifeline. You either get your priorities right, you either come, or you die.”
Dr. Steven Butler, a nephrologist with Regional Kidney Care, founded a Kingsport dialysis clinic in 1993 with 30 patients. Today, Horton is one of 152. The majority of these patients have chronic kidney disease, which currently affects 26 million American adults according to the National Kidney Foundation. When the disease limits the function of both kidneys to 10 or 15 percent, dialysis is needed.
There are two forms of dialysis. Peritoneal uses the stomach lining and peritoneal fluid, allowing patients to remain at home. The most common, hemodialysis, directly accesses the bloodstream and is usually done at a professional center.
Although it is not as effective as the kidneys, dialysis helps to replace three important kidney functions: removal of waste from the blood, removal of excess fluid, and keeping electrolytes in balance.
While there is the rare patient who is able to recover kidney function, most will need a kidney transplant or remain on dialysis for the rest of their lives, Butler said. “One of the perceptions out there is that dialysis is a death sentence or that it’s associated with a universally poor quality of life and that you’re there and you’re miserable for a few months and then you die,” he said.
Unfortunately, dialysis does have a high mortality rate. “Nationally, the mortality rate is about 20 percent. A lot of it really does depend on the patient. If you just look statistically, the one-year survival is about 80 percent. ... Out 10 years, there are only about 10 percent still alive,” Butler said.
Nonetheless, these patients are not without hope.
Nurse Practitioner Cindy Butler sees life expectancy misperceptions all too often. That, she said, is when she introduces those with misperceptions to a patient who has been on dialysis for more than 20 years.
“As a rule, when patients first come, they will feel as bad as they have ever felt in their entire lives,” she said, explaining that some do not even want to try dialysis. Once they do, however, things quickly turn around. “Over about a month ... they feel like themselves again.”
“(It is) a miraculous therapy in a lot of ways because when you walk into a dialysis center you’re seeing on that shift of 16 patients, people that would otherwise not be here,” Dr. Butler said.
For three days a week, four hours a day, Charmie Horton is one of the 16 patients who must sit patiently while their blood cycles from an access, into the machine for cleaning, and then back.
“I think about dialysis a lot,” she said.
It is certainly not without its challenges. The process is time-consuming, maintaining proper health difficult and the diet tedious.
“They take everything,” Horton said, voicing a rare complaint. “You have to sneak your cake ... and your lemon pie.”
A dietitian works to create individualized plans for each of the patients, balancing diabetes, kidney failure and economic concerns. “The foods that really they need to minimize or avoid are going to be the less expensive foods,” Cindy Butler said. “When you start telling them what they need to eat, a lot of times they’re people that are just barely making it economically and you’re putting more stress on them.”
Outside of her dietary complaints, Horton remains highly optimistic about her new life, prompting the staff to describe her as “delightful” and “a sweetheart.”
She, in turn, claims the staff as her own children. “We have wonderful doctors that care about you,” she said. “If you ever have to come, you won’t want to come. But once you come, you won’t want to miss. It’s like a social club! I’ve made so many friends here.”
Her optimism endears her to the staff, but they are all aware of how difficult the patients’ lives can be, Cindy Butler said. “Every once in a while, they’ll say something like, ‘You don’t know how hard this is,’ and we have to say, ‘You’re right, we don’t.’ ”
Yet Horton remains as optimistic as ever.
“Nobody told us this would be a rose garden. Just be thankful we have this place to come to and these people to take care of you.”

Friday, July 23, 2010

Race being used to smear Obama

Eugene Robinson is a columnist for the Washington Post

Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is

WASHINGTON — After the Shirley Sherrod episode, there’s no longer any need to mince words: A cynical right-wing propaganda machine is peddling the poisonous fiction that when African-Americans or other minorities reach positions of power, they seek some kind of revenge against whites.
A few of the purveyors of this bigoted nonsense might actually believe it. Most of them, however, are merely seeking political gain by inviting white voters to question the motives and good faith of the nation’s first African-American president. This is really about tearing Barack Obama down.
Sherrod, until Monday an official with the Department of Agriculture, was supposed to be mere collateral damage. Andrew Breitbart, a smarmy provocateur who often speaks at tea party rallies, posted on his Web site a video snippet of a speech that Sherrod, who is African-American, gave to a NAACP meeting earlier this year. In it, Sherrod seemed to boast of having withheld from a white farmer some measure of aid that she would have given to a black farmer.
It looked like a clear case of black racism in action. Within hours, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had forced her to resign. The NAACP, under attack from the right for having denounced racism in the tea party movement, issued a statement blasting Sherrod and condemning her attitude as unacceptable.
But Breitbart had overstepped. The full video of Sherrod’s speech showed she wasn’t bragging about being a racist, she was telling what amounted to a parable about prejudice and reconciliation. For one thing, the incident happened in 1986 when she was working for a nonprofit, long before she joined the Obama administration. For another, she helped that white man and his family save their farm, and they became friends. Through him, she said, she learned to look past race toward our common humanity.
In effect, she was telling the story of America’s struggle with race, but with the roles reversed. For hundreds of years, black people were enslaved, oppressed and discriminated against by whites — until the civil rights movement gave us all a path toward redemption.
With the Obama presidency, though, has come a flurry of charges — from the likes of Breitbart but also from more substantial conservative figures — about alleged incidences of racial discrimination against whites by blacks and other minorities. Recall, for example, the way Obama’s critics had a fit when he offered an opinion about the confrontation between Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and a white police officer. Remember the over-the-top reaction when it was learned that Justice Sonia Sotomayor had once talked about how being a “wise Latina” might affect her thinking.
Newt Gingrich called Sotomayor a racist. He was lightning-quick to call Sherrod a racist, too. I’d suggest that the former House speaker consider switching to decaf, but I think he knows exactly what he’s doing.
These allegations of anti-white racism are being deliberately hyped and exaggerated because they are designed to make whites fearful. It won’t work with most people, of course, but it works with some — enough, perhaps, to help erode Obama’s political standing and damage his party’s prospects at the polls.
Before Sherrod, the cause celebre of the “You Must Fear Obama” campaign involved something called the New Black Panther Party. Never heard of it? That’s because it’s a tiny group that exists mainly in the fevered imaginations of its few members. Also in the alternate reality of Fox News: One of the network’s hosts has devoted more than three hours of air time in recent weeks to the grave threat posed by the NBPP. Actually, I suspect that this excess is at least partly an attempt by a relatively obscure anchor to boost her own notoriety.
The Sherrod case has fully exposed the right-wing campaign to use racial fear to destroy Obama’s presidency, and I hope the effect is to finally stiffen some spines in the administration.
The way to deal with bullies is to confront them, not run away. Yet Sherrod was fired before even being allowed to tell her side of the story. She said the official who carried out the execution explained that she had to resign immediately because the story was going to be on Glenn Beck’s show that evening. Ironically, Beck was the only Fox host who, upon hearing the rest of Sherrod’s speech, promptly called for her to be reinstated. On Wednesday, Vilsack offered to rehire her.
Shirley Sherrod stuck to her principles and stood her ground. I hope the White House learns a lesson.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Go, Douglass Alums! (and to Calvin, son and grandson of former alums


Great pictures of your annual even to keep "Douglass" alive! What anyone who reads our website on a consistent basis can see is the leadership developed by the Douglass High School Faculty and Staff. Only leadership can make this happen annually.

Rosemary Gray

55 Years ago !!

That's only 55 years ago!

Comments made in the
year 1955!

'I'll tell you one thing, if things
keep going the way they are,
it's going to be impossible to
buy a week's groceries for $10.00.


'Have you seen the new cars
coming out next year? It won't
be long before $1, 000.00 will
only buy a used one.


'If cigarettes keep going up in
price, I'm going to quit. 20 cents
a pack is ridiculous.


'Did you hear the post office is
thinking about charging 7 cents
just to mail a letter


'If they raise the minimum wage
to $1.00, nobody will be able to
hire outside help at the store.


'When I first started driving, who
would have thought gas would
someday cost 25 cents a gallon.
Guess we'd be better off leaving
the car in the garage.


'I'm afraid to send my kids to the
movies any more Ever since they
let Clark Gable get by with saying
it seems every new movie has
either HELL or DAMN in it.


'I read the other day where some
scientist thinks it's possible to put
a man on the moon by the end of
the century. They even have some
fellows they call astronauts
preparing for it down in Texas.


'Did you see where some baseball
player just signed a contract for
$50,000 a year just to play ball?
It wouldn't surprise me if someday
they'll be making more than the


'I never thought I'd see the day
all our kitchen appliances would
be electric. They are even making
electric typewriters now.


'It's too bad things are so tough
nowadays. I see where a few
married women are having to
work to make ends meet.


'It won't be long before young
couples are going to have to hire
someone to watch their kids so
they can both work.


'I'm afraid the Volkswagen car
is going to open the door to a
whole lot of foreign business.


'Thank goodness I won't live to
see the day when the Government
takes half our income in taxes. I
sometimes wonder if we are
electing the best people to


'The drive-in restaurant is
convenient in nice weather,
but I seriously doubt they
will ever catch on.


'There is no sense going on short
trips anymore for a weekend, it
costs nearly $2.00 a night to stay
in a hotel.


'No one can afford to be sick
anymore, at $15.00 a day in
the hospital, it's too rich for
my blood.'


'If they think I'll pay 30 cents
for a hair cut, forget it.'


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Give Obama a break until 2012

Clinton grew the economy and had an affair that should have been between him and his wife. We stuck our nose in that. Then Bush started two wars and gave a tax break to the very rich and there was total silence — not a peep. Then come Obama. Auto jobs were in danger; we were headed for a recession and he is trying to dig us out of a hole that is just too deep, and the Republicans and tea party members and birthers are doing everything to defeat him with some help from people who are in the dark about everything, including the Confederate flag. I am so sick of hearing Obama in every newscast, every editorial and most Tennesseans you talk to who happened to vote for him. Please let him rest and wait until 2012 and then voice your opinion.
Cecilia Henderson

Friday, July 16, 2010

From Ben Jealous, NAACP President


The NAACP is under attack.

This week, we called out the bigoted acts of certain Tea Party members for what they are: racist.

The response was shocking. Our opponents have turned the claim around on us -- calling the NAACP divisive.

If you know anything about the NAACP, you know that there is no need to validate their accusation with a response. We have seen their signs. We have heard their slurs.

All we are asking for is your support. Please sign the pledge and ask the Tea Party to repudiate bigotry among their members:

History has shown what can happen when organizations fail to condemn racism within their ranks. So our opponents' out-of-context sound bites and gross distortion of history do not threaten us, because the NAACP has unwavering faith in what is right.

We have unwavering faith in our mission. We have unwavering faith in the American democracy. And most importantly, we have unwavering faith in you.

What we do not believe in is hatred, ignorance and malice. With your help we can stop it. Tell the Tea Party that you do not support racism:

Thanks for your help,

Ben Jealous
President and CEO

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Letter was filled with misinformation

Lena Rogers’ letter was right out of Frederick Wright’s handbook of racism. The only truth in her message of misinformation is “slavery was wrong.”
In the 1830 U.S. Census in Virginia, my home state, there were 3,775 free blacks. Those free blacks owned a “few” black slaves — 12,740 according to census records. Many years earlier, the first slave of record to enter Virginia was named John Casor. His owner was a man named Anthony Johnson of Northampton, Va. He was and still is known as the father of American slavery.
I read a newspaper account from 1864 of a regiment of Richmond blacks, free and slave, who volunteered to fight for the Confederacy. They were shown marching out of Richmond with the Stars and Bars flying in front of them.
I served as an airman in World War II. Probably the best known fighter group was a group of blacks known as Tuskeegee Airmen. Part of their mission was to escort bomber groups to their targets. Most missions lost two or more bombers due to ground fire or enemy fighters. No bombers were lost when those black heroes escorted a bomb group. I’m talking about every group they escorted.
Bernie Kerrick

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Get over it and leave it alone

Re. the Confederate flag flying at South ball games and lady that wrote about South Carolina seceding from the union, the first Confederate flag was called the stars and bars. It had three stripes, two red and one white, and a square of blue with seven stars in a circle. The Confederate flag is not offensive. It’s people that make things offensive. If you get rid of the flag at Sullivan South then we must get rid of the Indian flags that fly at Dobyns-Bennett because people might find that offensive as well. I have some Cherokee in my blood as well as eight relatives that fought in the Civil War — seven with the north and one with the south. Get over it and leave it alone. It is a right as an American citizen to fly that flag or any flag for that matter until we start doing something to these people that desecrate the U.S. flag by burning it and stepping on it. Life is too short to argue over a school waving a flag supporting their team. We have more important problems as a nation to worry about.

Edward Amyx

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

South should end displays of the Confederate flag at school functions

Debbie Arrington lives in Kingsport and has earned degrees in history and accounting. You can email her at

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
This is the oath that Abraham Lincoln took in 1861 at a moment when our nation was rapidly disintegrating. He considered this to be a vow that he as President would use every tool at his disposal to protect the Union from external and internal threats. I have no doubt that George Bush and Barack Obama who took the same oath would agree with Lincoln. This is a “presidential thing” and transcends political ideology. On a very small scale, President George Washington demonstrated during what’s known as the Whiskey Rebellion that the U.S. government would suppress violent insurrections against federal authority by force if necessary. There still isn’t anything in the U.S. Constitution that prohibits a state from seceding from our republic. But as a practical matter, that was settled in 1865.
I, like most Southerners, deeply respect General Robert E. Lee, his generals and the Confederate soldiers who suffered and died doing what they believed to be their duty. But it still confounds me that many of the leaders of the Confederacy were so willing to dissolve the Republic that their own fathers and grandfathers had risked death by hanging to create. Four signers of the Declaration of Independence were from South Carolina. Monarchists in many European countries gloated at the prospect of the demise of our noble and, to them, liberal experiment in self government.
The seven states which originally seceded from the Union did so in order to preserve a feudal economic system based on slave labor that basically benefited only a small, elite aristocracy. Four days after a group of South Carolina leaders hastily made the decision that their state would leave the Union before cooler heads could prevail, the state government issued a legal proclamation known as the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” This document explicitly revealed that slavery was the chief issue involved in South Carolina’s decision to secede. Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas issued similar proclamations. Although I had earned a history degree, I’d never heard of these declarations until I ran across a copy displayed at the Edmondston-Alston museum house located in Charleston. General Beauregard had watched the bombing of Fort Sumter from the second floor piazza of this home. My view of the Civil War was never quite the same after I stood reading this astounding declaration in that elegant antebellum mansion.
These hotheaded, privileged southerners put the process in motion that would result in the deaths of close to 620,000 Americans. Federal troops would be stationed over parts of the South until 1877. Former Confederates who wished to hold elected office at any level were required to take a retroactive oath of loyalty to the Union. Poverty was rampant in the South until 1945. Robert E. Lee, despite the assistance of Ulysses S. Grant and others, died without regaining his American citizenship. Congress finally voted to restore full rights of citizenship posthumously to General Lee in 1975 and to Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1978. These resolutions were signed by Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter respect i v e l y.
Most southern states didn’t celebrate the anniversary of the founding of our nation for years after the Civil War. Per the online Fourth of July Celebrations database created by James R. Heintze, the Nashville Banner newspaper published an editorial in 1866 urging citizens not to celebrate the Fourth. On July 4, 1890, a group of 2000 Confederate veterans marched in a parade in Chattanooga. And they didn’t carry Confederate flags.
I can’t help but notice with satisfaction that the Civil War is becoming largely irrelevant to most Americans other than to academics or armchair historians. But for whatever reason, we still have some southerners, especially in South Carolina, who want to keep the memory of the Civil War in the forefront of our nation’s popular culture. They display the Confederate battle flag at every opportunity to “honor their history” even though the British Union Jack flew over the Palmetto State for nearly a hundred years. I think the famed Unionist attorney James Petigru’s comment regarding his state is still rather appropriate: “South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.”
Most Confederate soldiers were by all accounts brave and ferocious fighters. Those are admirable traits and coveted compliments to receive from one’s opponent. But even so, I hope that the administrators at Sullivan South High School end all displays of the Confederate battle flag at school functions. There were news reports that a school or two in our region had informed Sullivan South that its students weren’t welcome if they brought this flag with them. The people who adopted this policy aren’t a bunch of big city liberals. They’re just mainstream, twenty-first century East Tennesseans who’d like to leave the “War of Northern Aggression” and its intense emotions in the past.
When South High School kids display those flags to strangers, they’re often viewed as young people with a chip on their shoulder; people who take pleasure in offending others for no good reason. Most teenagers want to be accepted and respected by other teens. It’s not fair to set those kids up for appearing antisocial or worse to outsiders. Give them a chance to make a good first impression. Because a bad first impression can be difficult if not impossible to overcome.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blacks forced to fight in Civil War

Those who think African-Americans fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War because they wanted to are so wrong. Why would a black man want to fight a war to keep him in slavery? They were made to be there. They were slaves put out there to do all the dirty work that soldiers did not want to do. What do you think would happen to them if they had refused to fight in a war they didn’t believe in? Was the Confederate soldier fighting for everyone to be free?
I can’t see why so many people are so proud of the fact they wanted to keep people slaves for the rest of their lives. They had no rights and had no life. Slavery was wrong. Blacks were killed, raped, burned alive, homes burned down, children raped and taken from their family to work in your fields. They didn’t even want slaves to know how to read, and if they were seen reading they were killed or beaten. There were masters raping our women and having babies and selling their own children.
Yes, when the slaves were free some stayed because they knew no other life. Some were old and stayed because they were born slaves and had nowhere to go. Some had no names, no education. That was the only life they knew. But thank God for the ones that did. Even after many, many years when we were free, we still were treated like we were not human. Our men and women and children were killed just because of the color of their skin, and to this day we are mistreated because of the color of our skin. So keep on being proud of your Confederate flag, and we will still see no good in it. We have fought for every right we have as a race and will keep fighting.

Lena Rogers

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Most wavers of That Flag are just having fun, but it’s time for it to go


Jim Welch, a Kingsport resident, works in advancing biosafety and biosecurity. E-mail him at

That Flag. To read some responses about That Flag, one would think Creation and/or the existence of America itself depended upon some local high school being able or not being able to use it.
I weighed in years ago about That Flag. I’m proud of my Southern heritage even though mine is mixed. I had relatives from the same state fight on opposite sides. I like to think the Confederate ones weren’t fighting over slavery and the Union ones were. Being a history guy, I can even make a pretty good argument either way. Being a human being, I would more than likely choose the facts that support my beliefs and ignore the others.
I harbor neither ill feelings nor great devotion toward That Flag, but as I wrote in another column several years ago, That Flag was stolen. It was stolen by people who used it to express their hates and prejudices. We let them have it. We let them wave it without a whisper of objection. We didn’t fight them over it, and we certainly failed to publicly scold them. They flew it when they wore their white robes, and they flew it when they wished they had white robes to wear. As a result, many people associate one with the other, and perception is 90 percent of reality.
I think a Rebel is a good thing. That said, I must ask if That Flag is what is so very important about being a Rebel. The Sons of Liberty, America’s original Rebels, had a flag that had nine vertical stripes, alternating red and white ones. The stripes represented the nine colonies that attended the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. Later versions would hold the nine stripes for different reasons, but it’s a cool looking flag.
And what could be cooler than the “Don’t Tread On Me” rattlesnake flag or the Texas independence flag that had a cannon and a lone star on a white background with the taunting words “Come And Take It”?
If we’re Hades-bent on Rebels being the War Between the States kind, then why not fly either the Stars and Bars or the Bonnie Blue? Both are indicative of the same movement without the overtones associated with That Flag. Many — and I dare even say most — of those who sing the “Southern heritage” song in their arguments probably wouldn’t know either the Stars and Bars or the Bonnie Blue if either were flying in front of their face.
What’s more, That Flag was widely regarded as a “battle flag” in that it was troop-carried and very often square in shape. The star-studded St. Andrews cross was often relegated to corners of state flags or unit flags. That said, its use in rallying athletic teams becomes somewhat demeaning to those who fought for it. With the exception of national teams, we don’t go running across fields snapping the flag of the United States because a football team is coming on the field or a volleyball team is coming on the court. The American flag gets its deserved reverence, so those who wish to protect the heritage of That Flag should consider doing likewise if they love it as they say they do.
The real problem is that the use or non-use of That Flag strikes as an argument of political correctness or as another example of the overreaching power of the government. That situation continues to give That Flag new life — especially among those who despise either. They reach for any straw to fly it that much higher and that much more often. The more others lecture them about what they see as the evil the flag represents, the more inclined they are to fly it.
I now look at That Flag in the same way I see those horns people are blowing at the World Cup games. Each is irritating in its own way, but most people are just having a good time. Eventually, the students at the school who fly That Flag will grow tired of it and realize that the time has come to give That Flag the proper burial it deserves.


A new Publix supermarket opened in Morristown, TN. It has an automatic water mister to keep the produce fresh. Just before it goes on, you hear the distant sound of thunder and the smell of fresh rain.

When you pass the milk cases, you hear cows mooing and you experience the scent of fresh cut hay.

In the meat department there is the aroma of charcoal grilled steaks and brats.

In the liquor department, the fresh, clean, crisp smell of tapped Miller Lite.

When you approach the egg case, you hear hens cluck and cackle and the air is filled with the pleasing aroma of bacon and eggs frying.

The bread department features the tantalizing smell of fresh baked bread & cookies.

I don't buy toilet paper there anymore!
Financial Educators
Dee Lee

We can continue to reap profits from the Blacks without the effort of physical slavery. Look at the current methods of containment that they use on themselves: IGNORANCE, GREED, and SELFISHNESS.

Their IGNORANCE is the primary weapon of containment. A great man once said, 'The best way to hide something from Black people is to put it in a book..' We now live in the Information Age. They have gained the opportunity to read any book on any subject through the efforts of their fight for freedom, yet they refuse to read. There are numerous books readily available at Borders, Barnes &Noble, and , not to mention their own Black Bookstores that provide solid blueprints to reach economic equality (which should have been their fight all along), but few read consistently, if at all.

GREED is another powerful weapon of containment. Blacks, since the abolition of slavery, have had large amounts of money at their disposal. Last year they spent 10 billion dollars during Christmas, out of their 450 billion dollars in total yearly income (2.22%).

Any of us can use them as our target market, for any business venture we care to dream up, no matter how outlandish, they will buy into it.. Being primarily a consumer people, they function totally by greed. They continually want more, with little thought for saving or investing.

They would rather buy some new sneaker than invest in starting a business. Some even neglect their children to have the latest Tommy or FUBU, and they still think that having a Mercedes, and a big house gives them 'Status' or that they have achieved their Dream.

They are fools! The vast majority of their people are still in poverty because their greed holds them back from collectively making better communities.

With the help of BET, and the rest of their black media that often broadcasts destructive images into their own homes, we will continue to see huge profits like those of Tommy and Nike. (Tommy Hilfiger has even jeered them, saying he doesn't want their money, and look at how the fools spend more with him than ever before!). They'll continue to show off to each other while we build solid communities with the profits from our businesses that we market to them.

SELFISHNESS, ingrained in their minds through slavery, is one of the major ways we can continue to contain them. One of their own, Dubois said that there was an innate division in their culture. A 'Talented Tenth' he called it. He was correct in his deduction that there are segments of their culture that has achieved some 'form' of success.

However, that segment missed the fullness of his work. They didn't read that the 'Talented Tenth' was then responsible to aid The Non-Talented Ninety Percent in achieving a better life. Instead, that segment has created another class, a Buppie class that looks down on their people or aids them in a condescending manner. They will never achieve what we have. Their selfishness does not allow them to be able to work together on any project or endeavor of substance. When they do get together, their selfishness lets their egos get in the way of their goal Their so-called help organizations seem to only want to promote their name without making any real change in their community.

They are content to sit in conferences and conventions in our hotels, and talk about what they will do, while they award plaques to the best speakers, not to the best doers. Is there no end to their selfishness? They steadfastly refuse to see that T ogether E ach A chieves M ore (TEAM)..

They do not understand that they are no better than each other because of what they own, as a matter of fact, most of those Buppies are but one or two pay checks away from poverty. All of which is under the control of our pens in our offices and our rooms.

Yes, we will continue to contain them as long as they refuse to read, continue to buy anything they want, and keep thinking they are 'helping' their communities by paying dues to organizations which do little other than hold lavish conventions in our hotels. By the way, don't worry about any of them reading this letter, remember, 'THEY DON'T READ!!!!

(Prove them wrong. Please pass this on! After Reading )

Friday, June 18, 2010

Truth behind rebel flag isn’t pretty

The rebel flag was created in a time that denigrated many; it symbolized the acceptance of slavery. My personal experience with the rebel flag as a former D-B student and parent to both a past and present D-B student is negative. Some that attend ball games and those who ride past the front of D-B waving the rebel flag are not displaying pride in their “heritage” or school. They are insulting black students with harmful words (as well as any friends that are with them) and actions. Two years ago, on a D-B, South game day, I witnessed a South student drive slowly in front of D-B waving the rebel flag from his vehicle. When the South student saw a black D-B student ride by, he threw trash at his vehicle. Heritage? Yes, one of continued hatred and ignorance.
The rebel flag is a symbol of a past I would never want to take pride in. I would hope parents, teachers and authority figures would be more open to teaching their children and opening their eyes to the value of all life, no matter the color of one’s skin, economic status, or worldly possessions.
Amy McAtee

Friday, June 11, 2010

Flag inspires mixed emotions

I have been following the letters pertaining to the use of the Confederate flag at South High School with interest. As a 63-year-old white male growing up in the South, I came to have conflicting opinions about displaying the flag. While it serves as reminder of the heroism and sacrifice of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Chickamauga, Gettysburg and other Civil War battles, it also brings to mind some despicable actions: the 1958 Clinton High School bombing, the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four young girls, George Wallace blocking the schoolhouse door in Tuscaloosa in 1963, Lester Maddox and his axe handles at the Pickrick Restaurant in 1964, the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King and decades of discrimination.
As a citizen, you have the absolute First Amendment right to display the Confederate flag if you so desire. However, I am not so sure that the mixed reactions to the flag make it a fit symbol to be displayed at a high school event.
James Lee

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This one is for you my Brother: Happy Brother's Day!


Be the kind of man that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says "Oh Crap, he's up!" Brother, life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Love the ones who don't just because you can. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands. If it changes your life, let it. Kiss slowly. Forgive quickly. God never said life would be easy. He just promised it would be worth it. Today is Brother's day, send this to all your brothers, fathers, sons. If you get back 7, you are loved. Happy Brothers Day! I LOVE YA BROTHA'!!! To the cool men that have touched my life. Here's to you!! A real Brother walks with you when the rest of the world walks on.
Send this to all your Brothers because the fake ones won't.
Rebel flag doesn’t inspire everyone

What is it with school officials at South allowing the display of the Confederate flag and mascot for so long? When some of us were more complacent than we should have been, there were lots of incidents involving the display of what some now are claiming is their Southern heritage. Just the other day, I had the glorious opportunity to travel behind an old pickup truck with an over-sized Confederate flag flown from the back and smaller flags on bumper as well. Needless to say I was thrilled when I had to turn the opposite way of that display of Southern “pride.” Would there be a person of German descent waving a flag bearing a swastika? Both are failed ideas from eras past. They certainly cannot think of themselves as patriotic Americans waving a flag of the government that lost in one of our most vile and deadly wars. The federal government does not allow the Confederate flag to fly on federal buildings, and the same should apply to schools.
No one denies anyone the right to personally fly the flag of your choice in your home or on your property. I don’t have a problem with the Confederate flags I’ve seen in official places — carefully placed as part of Civil War memorials, for instance. I’ve even seen them flying in some states at city halls and statehouses and on the lawns where there’s a plaque about the Civil War. I can live with that. That acknowledges history while not expressing explicit state support of the Confederacy. The Confederate flag is not a symbol of Southern heritage. A flag should be a symbol that everyone looks upon with the same stirring feelings of shared beliefs and shared commitment. Clearly, not all the students can look upon the Confederate flag with the same shared feelings.
Linda C. Bly

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Celebrate the South’s heritage

Whether or not the Confederate flag is racist is perception. Everything in the world is based on perception: right and wrong, truth and deception, good and evil. If you take the flag offensively, maybe you’re just self-conscious about your heritage. Heritage is to be embraced and, more importantly, understood. There were approximately 50,000 African-Americans who served willingly as Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Almost four million blacks stayed on plantations by their free will. They supported the Confederate Army by providing them with food and supplies.
The Confederate flag stands for anyone in favor of the Southern states. America can’t go around catering to every single person’s opinion. So let’s just stick to the South’s heritage. Let the Stars and Bars fly high with rebel pride.
Heather Johnson

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Flag a positive and negative symbol

I think it’s important to note the rebel flag elicits strong negative and positive emotions. The folks on the positive side are often Caucasian from the South and see the flag as a symbol of their right to assert themselves in the name of their heritage. It is a regional symbol of pride for many people. The flag represents a memorial to the many people that died fighting honorably in the South for their country. Unfortunately, folks on the negative side are often in shock when they see it because it elicits an intense, strong, paralyzing sense of dread and instantaneous fear. I don’t think oftentimes those on the side of promoting the rebel flag as a symbol of our Southern heritage understand what the rebel flag represents to a significant number of people of all races in the rest of the country. It’s a symbol of terror for some people that has been passed down for generations just as much as any other symbol of terror like a satanic symbol or skull and cross bones. Obviously some symbols are going to represent different things to different people. So the question becomes if for one set of people it represents a heritage that they love and adore and to another set of people it is a terrorist symbol, whose rights are going to be denied? No one’s rights are going to be denied (hopefully) in this country because of free speech. But let’s ask ourselves, what would Jesus do?

Tracy White Kingsport
Don’t use flag for frivolous purposes

As a native Virginian, a student of the Civil War, a descendant of three Confederate great-great-grandfathers, a rebel re-enactor for 10 years, and someone whose last request is to be buried in a grey wool uniform, I have been troubled by the battle flag being used at football games and flaunted in the beds of pickup trucks. Compared to the bloody horrors of a Civil War battlefield, a football game is an insignificant and frivolous event. Using the same flag that flew over our gallant, brave, and heroic ancestors as they were being killed by the thousands to urge on a football team only trivializes that flag. Our flag certainly should never be used by those who would substitute it for their clenched fist in the faces of our African-American brethren. Both actions denigrate our colors.
All Confederate flags should be treated with reverence and flown only in historical settings: Civil War battlefields and re-enactments, Sons of Confederate Veterans programs and meetings, on graves, in museums and individual homes, etc. We should do this not because we are forced to do so, but because I believe our ancestors, who loved that flag and who suffered and died while following it, would want us to treat it with the utmost honor, dignity, and respect. If we don’t treat and think about our flag in this manner, how can we expect others to do so? Robert Vanover Kingsport

Everyone is a rebel from time to time

In view of the recent comments about the rebel flag, people will complain about anything because they are never satisfied. (I know a few who are like that.) I don’t see anything wrong about the flag. It is the name of teams at school. The rebel flag represents rebellion, mostly from young people. Whether it be from teachers or parents, or even people we work with, we all rebel against something from time to time. Parents that are strict will tell their teenage children not to drink. But nine out of 10 kids will do it anyway. This is a form of rebellion just to spite their strict parents. Teachers will tell people not to talk or throw things in class. They will do it anyway just to spite the teachers. When people go against other people’s wishes, it is rebellion just like the school; they are called rebels, so the rebel flag represents the teachers and the student body. Eddie Holdway Big Stone Gap, Va.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Flag backers should not be insensitive

Every year there is a discussion in this paper regarding use of the song “Dixie” or public displaying of the Confederate flag. If this behavior causes people to feel unhappy and insulted, then there is a problem. The main cause of the Civil War was to preserve the Union. There were many reasons people entered that war. The existence of slavery was one of the biggest. It is embarrassing that people assert symbols that are known to hurt others unnecessarily. The United States was preserved and has become a great nation. All 50 states play a role in the function of government responsibilities. This is a great country with many serious problems. It is important to put our intelligence into solving those problems and stop entertaining ourselves with insensitive incidences and behaviors related to holding human beings in slavery because of the color of their skin whether it was the cause or a side effect of a horrible war. The Civil War has been over for almost 150 years. My great-grandfather was in the Union Army. We don’t feel the urge to fly a flag or sing a particular song if to do so would hurt others’ feelings. We do feel the urge to make ourselves informed about what is happening in the world and do what we can to help.
Sue Ella Kobak
Pennington Gap, Va.

Flag will fly for next 100 years

I defend the right to fly the Confederate flag at Sullivan South High School and anywhere throughout the South.
Tennessee fought for the South in the Civil War, and this is still Southern land. They have no right to take down any rebel flag below the Mason-Dixon Line. This flag has flown over the South for over 100 years and will fly for the next 100. I have a rebel flag flying at my house.
Johnny D. Bowen
Nickelsville, Va.

Ban rebel flag? Then ban U.S. flag too

It is incredible that at a time when we have elected an African-American to the presidency, we are still mired in this issue over symbolism and racism at Sullivan South. If someone actually complained about the rebel flag, perhaps it was white supremacy and not so much the flag itself. Are we still the same people who came from England and uprooted a whole society just to serve our own selfish need? If we are, ban the flag. If not, then counsel the students or whoever caused the complaint and be done with it. Address the real issue. We have already taken the Pledge of Allegiance, God, and everything else from schools. Take all the symbolism too. Why not? I believe that all of us would agree (unless we are KKK or neo-Nazi) that slavery was wrong. When the first settlers came to America, America already had residents. The First Nations, the Native Americans, were basically taken over by these intruders.
I am a proud American; much of my family has served or is actively serving in the armed forces. If we are going to ban flying that flag, we might as well ban our own American flag. The Confederate flag was a symbol of white supremacy. The American flag is a symbol of superiority. I refuse to put such a weight on something that is but a symbol of people’s ideals. South should not ban its athletic symbol if it does not ban the American flag too.
Tracy Boggs
Pound, Va.

Monday, May 31, 2010


Without slavery, there never would have been a rebel flag

John Gripentrog is an assistant professor of history at Mars Hill College.

The recent uproar at Sullivan South over the Confederate flag, the most popular symbol of the Civil War, reminds us of the importance of understanding our own past. The “flag issue” invariably raises blood pressures, rouses righteous rhetoric, and all too often misses the deeper historical significance. It’s time we get it right. Only by facing the past with integrity and courage will we as a nation progress toward a more perfect union. To this end, what’s needed is an honest appraisal of the core issue — one that gets beyond hackneyed justifications and goes to the heart of the matter.
The Confederate flag emerged out of civil war, so the crucial question remains: What was the principal cause of violence between the states? Was the war fought over states’ rights? Yes, but states’ rights for what? Over Fifth Amendment property rights? Sure, but property rights regarding what? Over regional economics? Of course, but what was the foundation of the South’s economy? No matter how one cuts it, the unequivocal answer to each question is slavery (or, more precisely, its expansion into the western territories). There is no war between North and South, and, thus, no rebel flag, without slavery — period.
A preferred explanation among pro-flag backers is that the flag is about “heritage” and not hate. But civil war did not come between North and South because of Northern disdain for Southern heritage. President Lincoln never denounced Southern architecture, folk music, religiosity, or diet. A better insight into the flag’s heritage can be found in the Confederate constitution, which guaranteed the right to own slaves no less than nine times. Or on various Confederate currencies, which often depicted laboring slaves. Moreover, the notion of “heritage” begs the question: whose heritage? Most of the Deep South states had a slave population that outnumbered white residents.
Not only must we recognize that the war was fundamentally premised on slavery, it is also important to reflect soberly on the nature of slavery. It is all too easy to let the word “slavery” pass between one’s lips without appreciating the consequences of that profound imbalance of power — the violence, the prevalence of sexual abuse and rape, and the routine selling of human beings as one would sell a mule. Imagine if you will a knock at your door this evening by someone who has come to take away forever your spouse, a child, siblings, or parents. That was the reality of the Civil War’s fundamental cause.
Still, it is also important to distinguish between why Southern men eagerly signed up to fight for the Confederacy, as opposed to the war’s fundamental cause of slavery. Despite a single great cause, myriad reasons drove men to the battlefield (75 percent of Southerners did not own slaves). All we know for certain is that hundreds of thousands of men fought and died. As such, it is entirely appropriate to memorialize the Confederate dead by flying the battle flag at Civil War cemeteries. Beyond that, however, publicly displaying the flag remains historically na├»ve and deeply offensive.
In light of this contentious issue, it may be instructive for Americans to return to Lincoln’s words in his 1863 Gettysburg Address. By beginning his memorial speech, “Four score and seven years ago,” Lincoln returned not to the U.S. Constitution (whose compromises allowed for slavery’s continuation), but rather to the Declaration of Independence, which boldly declared that all men are created equal. The president concluded by solemnly urging the nation to dedicate itself to “a new birth of freedom.” The point was unmistakable: a civil war brought on by slavery necessitated a new birth of freedom.
The Confederate flag — a singular creation of the Civil War — remains first and foremost a symbol of the ambitions to preserve slavery and prevent a new birth of freedom in America. For Americans who have ignored this undeniable historical truth, may they be guided in the future by the better angels of their nature.
Removing flag would offend many

Margaret Murray wrote that the rebel flag represents bigotry, racism and hate and that it needs to be eradicated. I would assume she says this because it offends people. What about the people that are offended by removing this flag? No one seems to care what we like or don’t like. The flag represents history, not hate or racism. She moved to New Jersey for a reason, so let the ones still in town worry about what flag is flying above our schools.

Aaron Pierson Church Hill

Confederate flag was an inspiration

The Confederate flag seems to have always stirred controversy, especially among those who do not understand what it has always meant to the South. My great-great-grandfather, a Confederate soldier, did not own slaves. He and his family worked their land, and he fought to keep his land and Southern heritage intact. The Confederate flag was an inspiration to those soldiers to keep fighting, usually against all odds, much as the America flag does for our soldiers in Iraq today. It was not created as a symbol of bigotry or hatred, and I’m sure it is not meant as that at South High School. Jack Barnes, how does the opinion of one person outweigh that of the many? Doesn’t the majority rule, even in the South?

Diann Callahan Kingsport

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why I choose to fly three flags

I am tired of the slurs against flying the rebel flag. Flying the rebel flag isn’t necessarily a sign of bigotry or racism. If one is looking for bigotry and racism, that is exactly what they will find. I have an American flag, a Texas flag, and a rebel flag waving above my yard to commemorate and show respect for our servicemen and women, alive and deceased. The American flag is for all the men and women who have given their lives for American freedom and for all those still serving or have retired. I fly the Texas flag to commemorate and remember all the brave who gave their life so selflessly at the Alamo for our freedom. I fly the rebel flag to commemorate and remember all of the Americans who fought so gallantly on the Confederate side during the Civil War.
This includes the approximately 30,000 to 100,000 black men — the exact number will never be known due to so many records having been destroyed. I have spent 30 years active duty in the U.S. Army and 15 years civil service with the U.S. Navy. This service was beside and for some of America’s most worthy African-American men and women.
Jimmy R. Hensley
Church Hill

Ban rap music before banning flag

Ban the rebel flag from public display only after banning rap music from the airwaves.
Shane Miller
Gate City

People are too quick to take offense

I hope Sullivan South will not allow a few complaints about personal sensitivities to lead them to require students to give up their traditional athletic symbol. I don’t think it is possible to please all of the people all of the time, and efforts by the school to do just that would displease far more than the few who are quick to complain. Personal sensitivities and prejudices are sometimes given far too much importance by individuals and sometimes by groups and even societies. Some of us have individual dislikes that if taken seriously by society or government would impact the freedom and liberty of others. There are always some that dislike things or choices that others have the right to own or choose.
There have been complaints about owners of wooded property cutting down their own trees, the colors that some homeowners choose to paint their exteriors, satellite antennas and even pink flamingos on private property and countless others. I have my own personal sensitivities, but I do not expect others to be forced to accommodate them if they do not limit my personal freedom. The Confederate battle flag may remind some of slavery, but to school athletes it represents their team on the field of competitive sports and does not limit the freedom of those who are uncomfortable when they see it. We should try to not take offense when no offense is intended.
H. Herren Floyd

South alum is embarrassed by flag

Clayton, I couldn’t get past your first sentence. The actual Stars and Bars is the first national flag, which is an entirely different design. Maybe next time, Bigsby. James, stay on point, this article is about the display of the Confederate flag, not a god. You still have plenty of Christian schools and a church for each day of the year in this area. Joe, I attended Sullivan South High School. I was and I am still embarrassed by “our” flag. You can’t go out on a Thursday night without feeling like you’re in a scene from “A Time To Kill.” Jim, I agree. We almost rid the nation of the Native American race, I’m sure we can get rid of a mascot. Racist groups such as the Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan use the Southern Cross as their symbol. That’s enough to keep me Dixie-free. I’m not telling you to get rid of your preciouses. You’ve got your right to free speech. There will probably be heaps more of these flags waving because of this debate. I’m just not a fan.
Craig Douglas Moody II

We shouldn’t try to please everyone

My oldest and middle child attended South High School; my youngest will be there in two years. I am very disappointed that the school system is considering losing the rebel flag from South. It is part of our history — all of us, no matter the color of our skin. How can anyone say that what our country has been through in the past is not important? If the rebel flag goes, does the Indian go from Dobyns-Bennett High School? It is in the same category. Do we ban this also?
How about the Cougars of Central High? Should we never have an animal as a mascot because it may offend someone? We cannot please everyone, and we should not try to. It would be a world of total chaos. There are other schools these people can attend, and they need to as far as I am concerned.
Angela Brown

Friday, May 28, 2010

Use of flag is students’ decision

To Richard H. Blair’s letter May 26, a huge amen. I agree with him that Sullivan South’s use of the rebel flag is not the issue. If the students want to use it, they have every right to do so. This nation has much bigger fish to fry.
Rosemary T. Johnston
Fall Branch

Why bow to one person’s opinion?

Regarding rebel flag days at South may be numbered, I am a graduate of South as well as several other family members. In my years at South, the rebel flag was and still is regarded as a symbol of school spirit and Southern heritage. Are we going to allow one person’s view to wipe away a symbol of our school pride? Look back at what the prayer at the Gate City football game did. One person took offense at kids praying and called the ACLU on that. We do live in the South, where most of the Civil War was fought. This flay is just a symbol of our heritage and histor y.
Would this person take offense at a Civil War re-enactment, or the singing of the national anthem? Maybe we should ban that too. I am one-fourth Cherokee Indian, so if I find the Indian mascot at D-B offensive, can I suggest we have it banned also?
Shannon Barrett
Church Hill

Rebel flag is a positive symbol

The rebel flag belongs at South. It is a part of South High School. Thank God there is still a school with students who embrace the rebel flag as a positive symbol of courage, tenacity and spirit. If you don’t like their flag, then stay home. If students can’t stand for something, they will fall for anything. We live in America. Our freedom was bought by the blood of our soldiers. Stand up, South.
Georgia Russell

Thursday, May 27, 2010

African-Americans should speak out

There is no place for the rebel flag on any public school property in Kingsport. The African-American community should be outraged over this issue. This flag represents an example of bigotry, racism and hate that needs to be eradicated once and for all. There are the good old boys and rednecks that will never let go of their past, and like it or not they are in all levels of our government. Kingsport has a very small population of African-Americans, but they need to stand together on this issue and let their voices be heard.
Kingsport is my hometown, but I would never come back there to live. I visit often because my family is there. When I am there, I feel and see the racism. It cannot be denied. It is not alright to fly that flag on a public, taxpayer-supported building.
Margaret Murray
Winslow Township, N.J.

Forget the panel, keep the flag

Re. Rosemary Gray’s letter, no discussion panel is needed for the South High flag issue. Keep the flag — end of discussion. Ole Miss University gave in to all the politically correct garbage, and it should not happen here. Enough is enough. As for G.E. Rogers’ letter, Southern folks do not need him to tell us we lost the war and that we are obese. If fat Southerners waving the Stars and Bars offends him, maybe his profession could take him back to one of those other states.
We in the South surely do not wish to offend anyone, although sometimes the way we are criticized may urge us to keep fighting the war we lost.
Steve Falin

Let South students decide about flag

We know that society changes, yet in the South (secession being the primary cause of the Civil War, not slavery) there will always be noise in the background when it comes to the rebel flag or Confederate battle flag. History is unclear that it ever officially represented the CSA as a nation. It is often incorrectly referred to as the Stars and Bars.
The individual who finds display of the flag as part of a school-sponsored activity at Sullivan South High School offensive is within his or her rights. But the flag that matters in public schools is the U.S. flag that won the Civil War, to which Tennessee teaches the students to pledge allegiance. The noise is unfounded because there is no CSA anymore. The students’ display of the flag is a rallying cry because the football coach says they are going into battle. SSHS, since 1981, has never officially adopted the rebel flag’s use. But school officials have condoned it. Some would say looking the other way is the same thing.
I think the appointed committee should look at this as a teachable moment and let the juniors and seniors decide every two years if they want to change the mascot and flag. That way all students get to vote before they graduate. Replacing the rebel flag with the school flag or the Bonnie Blue flag, which would somewhat match the school colors, would be appeasement. I say keep the rebel flag. In fact, put one on each student’s desk to instill a pride for learning and watch those home team test scores light up the scoreboard.
Earl Johnson
Eidson, Tenn.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rebel Flag Flap at Sullivan South: An Editorial


You've come a long way, baby.

We're not talking about cigarettes.

Relations between Black America and White America has come a long way. We've all been through a lot.

It has only been a year since our wonderful city was shocked by racial graffiti scrawled on the I-26 Meadowview overpass, some of it directed at President Obama. At this writing, the young man accused in the case is requesting judicial diversion. The incident was embarrassing to both blacks and whites in Kingsport, and was promptly and properly denounced by both.

And now, once again, racial intolerance rears its ugly head just outside our doors. This time, in the form of the rebel flag, waved by our neighbors who may not really understand what it means.

At a public institution of learning, of all places.

There probably is not an African-American in this country that can look at the rebel flag, and not have disdain for what it represents in our history. We will not debate the emotional controversy evoked by the rebel flag. It was carried by Confederates during the Civil War, and later waved by hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Period. 'Nuff said.

Unfortunately, now, the rebel flag is being waved by a whole new generation. A generation that may not understand why it is offensive to many people. And not just a few hundred people. More like... several MILLION.

This new generation says, the rebel flag is all about heritage, not hate. They say, their forefathers fought and died for the rebel flag. They will tell you that, to respect their ancestors, means respect for the rebel flag.

Should ancestral respect be more important, than respect for millions of people who find the rebel flag offensive? Perhaps in their own homes on their own property.. but not on public school grounds paid for by public tax dollars, or school-sponsored public events.

It was just recently that a young 18-year-old aspiring Marine candidate was rejected by the U.S. Marine Corps, because he has the tatoo of a rebel flag on his shoulder.
Click here to read the article from World Net Daily.

The issue of the rebel flag on public school property has also come up before. The
6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati dismissed a lawsuit filed over the ban of the rebel flag at Maryville (Tennessee) High School in 2008.
Click here to read the Wikipedia article where the ban was upheld at Maryville High School.

A case from William Blount High School in Blount County was also upheld to ban the rebel flag from public school property. The case from William Blount eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the 6th Circuit Court's decision to ban the flag.
Click here to read the article on the Blount High School case.

These are legal precedents that cannot be ignored in Sullivan South's case.

Whether Sullivan South has ever named the rebel flag as its "official flag" does not matter. The Sullivan County School Board and its superintendent have jurisdiction over whether the flag can be brought onto school property and to school-sponsored events.

It is unfortunate that Sullivan South High School, an institution of excellent learning, where children take steps into adulthood, is dragged into the views of a few, which adversely affect everyone's learning opportunity. This is obviously not good publicity for the school. We would rather hear how well the students did on their statewide test scores, and more on their wonderful achievements in band and theatrical prowess. Instead, we are hearing a age-old battle that adults are waging for them.. a battle that has no winners. The Sullivan South students are innocent victims, manipulated into a stayed viewpoint, without the chance to research both sides and decide for themselves.

We are sad for them.

We do not object to the waving of the rebel flag. What a person does on private property is their own business. We object to the rebel flag being waved on public property, be it a public school, public park, or other city, county, state or federal property for which public tax dollars pay for.

We know that, in the end, the Sullivan County School Superintendent will do the right thing. We know that the Superintendent will make the decision that countless other school boards, superintendents and jurisdictions in Tennessee, and federal courts in this wonderful nation, have made before them.

A decision that bans the presence of the rebel flag on all public school grounds, and at any public school-sponsored events.

It is the right decision. It is the only decision.
Flag panel should be a diverse group

My former high school, Douglass High School in Kingsport, was a few miles from Sullivan South. Unlike a former resident from Gate City featured in a story in the local news, I have a very broad view of diversity, but do respect his First Amendment, free speech, rights and his views on the mascot of Sullivan South. I found some additional information online about the date Sullivan South was established (1981) and reviewed again the definition of the mascot and the history of this word, long associated with the past, yet having very similar connotations to the complexities that we see exhibited and at the root of many mental and physical challenges of community members who take sides on many community issues, not really for the sake of resolving an issue, but merely just jumping into the fray. I also am aware that school faculty and administrators are meeting to begin discussions about the mascot, as there are complaints, including from area schools.
I encourage this group to include current and former students as well as local community leaders in this discussion — a diverse group — and to develop a resolution that allows the local and regional community to see Sullivan South High School as the academic leader that it apparently is and not as the definition of the word “rebel.” A rebel is one who rebels or is in rebellion: “He is the perfect recruit for fascist movements: a rebel not a revolutionary, contemptuous yet envious of the rich and involved with them” (Stanley Hoffman). A rebel also can mean a Confederate soldier.

Rosemary Gray
Lake Charles, La.

Fight fat instead of a lost war

My profession has allowed me to live, work, and travel in all but a handful states. I have lived in the South for a number of years. I have also resided in the Northwest, Midwest, Southwest, and Mountain States. The one thing that is more evident every day I live in the South is the overweight grade school children, overweight middle school children, overweight high school children, overweight young adults and overweight older adults. From the looks of people, the South is a stroke or heart attack waiting to happen.
And it is just not me. When I have friends who come to visit from other parts of the U.S., they see and comment on the same thing I see. It is about time Southern folks gave up fighting the Civil War (you lost) and started fighting the war on fat. You can win this one if you try.
G.E. Rogers

Rebel flag isn’t the real issue

Who really believes there are those who are deeply hurt or have to seek psychiatric treatment when South High students run across the football field waving a rebel flag? The rebel flag isn’t the issue. It’s a matter of a few wanting to exert control over the freedoms long enjoyed by all Americans — their right to choose. If we are to put the rebel flag under the microscope, let’s do the same for others. Does calling D-B “the Indians” really glorify those of Indian descent? My grandchildren are part Cherokee. If one of them complains, is D-B ready to get a new nickname? And those Hilltoppers? Some might live in the desert with no hills to be seen. Aren’t we rubbing their sensitive nose in it by talking about “Hilltoppers” — whatever they are? Let’s call the schools the A’s, the B’s, the C’s, the D’s — that should end any controversy. I know, I’m getting ridiculous — but no more so than with the rebel flag being an issue. Once it’s gone, that’s not the end. There will always be a few more things for those in power to gain control of to remind you that they are in charge and that you are subservient to their wishes.
Americans are beginning to say enough. Whatever your office, you weren’t crowned king, and we can vote you out. And that’s the message we need to send about the rebel flag. Mind your own business, or we will vote you out. Our individual freedoms are important to us. Good Americans have fought and died to protect them. We don’t intend to let others trample on those rights. Keep it up and we will show you who has the power. It’s time to say enough, starting with the rebel flag issue.
Richard H. Blair

Others shouldn’t decide for South

We as graduates of Sullivan South High School have used the rebel flag as our school pride for years. There is always going to be someone not happy in any situation. Why let them get the best of the situation? In that case every school should not use their mascots for school pride. We are proud to be Rebels and show it by our school spirt, the flag being part of that. I graduated in 2002 and still show South’s pride. Everyone who enrolls in Sullivan County schools knows Sullivan South High School as the Rebels, and it has been since 1980. Why change it because people are offended by our flag? I am offended by them having more rights in this country than the people that started it. In that case there should be no flags, mascots or any symbols of school in the entire world.
So what if people were offended. Move on. The world needs God in school, and if people don’t start showing that He is our creator, we are in a world of trouble. I think having a mascot in school shows interest in school activities and helps keep kids out of trouble. They should not be able to choose for Sullivan South by being offended. Take a vote and let’s see what the public decides.
Regina Robinson

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Once Again, the Rebel Flag Comes Up

I can't believe that we are back here with this issue of the Rebel Flag. I am outraged that there is even a discussion on this issue. That flag represents such hatred and bigotry. The clan flies it proudly and you see it on the good old boy red necks trucks. It does not belong on public school property. Where are the good people of Kingsport, why aren't you protesting this outrageous decision.

Kingsport is a beautiful city, my place of birth, but this is why I can never live in this town again. I find it to be the most racist place I know and I am well traveled, lived and visited many states. I have never been called the N word any where else but Kingsport, Tennessee. I will continue to visit because my family is there but as for me, I will never live there. Say NO WAY to the Rebel Flag.

Margaret Leeper Murray
There’s nothing sinister about use of flag

For the past 30 years, Sullivan South students and alumni have proudly displayed the Confederate battle flag during sports contests involving their school. They are and always have been the Sullivan South Rebels, so carrying the Southern Cross to support their team has always been the natural and logical thing to do. They do it to support their team, not because they are racists, not because they support the institution of slavery, not because they despise people of color, but just because they support their team. They have no hidden agendas, no sinister plots, no secret pacts with any outside hate organization. The only thing they hate is to lose on the field of athletics. It is not their fault the Confederate battle flag has been hijacked in years past by those who have twisted and corrupted its true meaning. Hate organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, and others have stolen the flag owned by the common Confederate soldier, the vast majority of which never owned any slaves and only fought in the Civil War because their homeland was being invaded and trampled under the boot heels of Yankee aggressors.
If the battle flag offends you, you need a history lesson. Just because there has been one single complaint about Sullivan South’s use of the common Confederate soldiers’ flag at sporting events, Jack Barnes proposes to hold trial on its right to even exist. With such politically correct knee-jerk reactions, it’s no wonder Barnes finds himself a lame duck. Support South before it’s too late.
Robert R. Wilhelm

Rebel flag belongs at South

It amazes me that one person or group can be disturbed about something and people fall apart. Just like taking prayer out of schools. The rebel flag should be at South along with the U.S. flag. It is a symbol of our heritage. Lots of people lost lives fighting for their rights. If someone doesn’t like it, they can go home or look the other way. They probably have something in their lives everyone else might not appreciate. I’m 67, born and raised in Ohio. My mother is from Rogersville, and I’ve been here 44 years. I love the rebel flag and what it stands for. I also love the American flag and Christian flag. I agree with your editorial about the fans who embrace the rebel flag as a positive symbol. This is my feeling about the rebel flag as well.
Sandra Martin

‘Pride’ is used to mask prejudice

The rebel flag does not represent pride. It tells me that there are still a lot of things going on that some folks don’t want to admit, but it still exists, and we use words like “pride” to cover for it. Let’s call it what it is: prejudice. I would not like to see a black child exposed to the rebel flag because to them it represents a time when they were in bondage without a voice. Why can’t we live our lives in a way that the Almighty intended and forget who is at the top? For one day, we will all be as one — in one place or the other.
Cecilia Henderson
Diversity excludes Southern heritage

The controversy about the Sullivan South mascot and the Confederate flag is political correctness gone amok. Today, one or two (or a very significant minority) can become offended at anything they dislike and get their will imposed on us. I am sick and tired of manufactured extortion in a time when our public officials seem to have no common sense or backbone. The perceived issue about Sullivan South should be relegated to the trash, and let’s get on with something important in our school system like improving education. Prior writers have addressed in an excellent manner the true nature of the Civil War and the ending of slavery. A few parallels: Germany, Italy, and Japan were responsible for many millions of dead in the world wars, but their flags fly today all over the world. Insensitive, and should these be banned? There’s Sherman’s march across the South burning homes and crops. How many more can you add?
If these parallels in history are not exactly the same, they are extremely similar to the current issue. Are they also possibly “an unacceptable example of bigotry that needs to be eradicated?” to quote from your editorial? Hopefully, sane minds within the Sullivan County school system will prevail. However, with no students or parents on Mr. Barnes’ committee, one wonders. If not, then beware D-B Indians and others, as you are next on the racially insensitive symbol list. Too bad our Southern heritage does not count in the culturally diverse society and is not worthy of a place alongside others. I am offended.
L.B. Lawson

Offensive mascot undercuts equality

Americans take public school systems very seriously. Undoubtedly, one reason is that in this country, education has generally been seen as the road to social and economic advancement. It is almost an article of faith that American children should get more education than their parents and achieve higher social and economic status. Throughout the U.S. there is unequal access to high-quality schooling, and administrations are under pressure to raise standards and increase performance, especially in underachieving schools. Institutional discrimination may be an unconscious result of the structure and functioning of the public institutions and policies themselves.
Discrimination is overt behavior. Although it may be sometimes difficult to observe, it does exist. If a school mascot is found to be offensive, that school is defeating the purpose of what our forefathers fought for: equality for all.
Thelma Watterson

Rebel flag should be left alone

In reference to the rebel flag at South High School, I am greatly concerned that one individual found the flag offensive after all these years. I was in the graduating class of 1986, and it was always an exciting time when football season rolled around. It was a chance for the proud parents and students to show their pride, by coming out to support their team. All schools have mascots, figures of people or things that represent a part of our history, culture, and backgrounds. Rebels, Pirates, Raiders, Indians, Blue Devils, just to name a few. Pirates raped and robbed people of their most precious assets, Indians scalped people, and what is a Blue Devil, or better yet, a Yankee? Whether it is a symbol or a name, they all represent something that people associate with strength and anticipation of fear. They want the schools’ team names to stand out with remembrance of past occurrences, so the opposition will feel intimidated just a little. It is a competition thing, and all schools participate in one way or another.
The rebel flag is a positive symbol of courage, tenacity, and spirit and should be left alone, as it a harmless representation of Southern pride. Remember where you are standing when you say it is offensive and try to take away something that has been here long before you moved to this area. Otherwise it would have offended you long before now. Some say the flag is a racially insensitive symbol with no place in a modern and culturally diverse society. If it is such a culturally diverse society, shouldn’t we all try to understand and respect others’ beliefs and traditions?
Lori Holt