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Building Communities of Faith and Education: Founding Black Churches and Schools, 1866-1900

Two of the cornerstones of post-Emancipation communities in East Tennessee were churches and schools. The importance of  Black schools and churches is the Civil Rights era is generally known but the early history of  many Black churches and schools is not well known or is poorly documented.   Assistant District Attorney Cecil Mills will speak on how the establishment of independent Black churches created the foundation for strong Black communities in the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction eras.  These organizations became the sites of resistance and community strength in the 1880’s and 1890’s.

Ms. Stella Gudger, director of Price Public Community Center and the Curator of Swift College Museum in Rogersville, will examine the role that Swift College played in creating and sustaining cultural capital in rural Northeast Tennessee and her successful campaign to preserve the history of Swift College by creating a museum within the restored Price Public School Building. Ms. Robin Fife of Tusculum College will discuss their communities successful effort to preserve the George Clem School in Greeneville. Dr. Beth Vanlandingham of Carson Newman University will discuss ways that the stories of other black schools in East Tennessee can be preserved through digital archiving and oral history projects.

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