JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Community members came out on Sunday to show their support for former Sullivan County teacher Matthew Hawn at the King Mercado food truck court, ahead of his appeal hearing this week.
Those community members were rallying in support of the former teacher, who they believe was wrongfully fired. Hawn is a former contemporary issues teacher at Sullivan Central High, who was dismissed by the school board in a 6 to 1 vote a few months back following accusations of him lecturing on hot-button issues related to racism.
Hawn was reprimanded after showing a video in his classroom called, “White Privilege” with a spoken word poem by Kyla Jenee Lacey in it. On Sunday, Lacey came to King Mercado to perform.
“Seeing it in person, I’m very appreciative to Kyla Lacey,” Hawn said. “She has reached out from the very beginning.”
Hawn’s appeal hearing at the Sullivan County Department of Education school board meeting room starts on Monday.
“This situation isn’t ideal, but to be around people I love and that show the support really means a lot,” Hawn said.
Organizers said they hope this event will show just how much some people in the community support Hawn.
“I just met him, and I was just really touched by him,” Organizer Jorja Green said. “I’ve heard so many good things from past students that he’s had, how he really just encourages students to think.”
“It’s a great opportunity for us to come out as a community,” Sunshine El said. “See what’s going on, you know spread the awareness of what is happening in our country.”
“The citizens of Tennessee, we believe that truth heals and all voices deserve to be heard,” Green said.
For Hawn, his voice will be heard starting next week.
“I’m not looking forward to the trial, but I am looking forward to getting my side of the story out,” Hawn said. “I think when people hear it, they’ll understand what my objectives were in the class, and I think I’ll be teaching in Sullivan County again.”