KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) —Seventy years ago, the V.O. Dobbins Complex was home to Kingsport’s segregated high school. Now, community leaders say they’re working to use this space as a museum documenting African-American history in the Model City.
A corner of the building is already home to memorabilia from the building’s days as a segregated school, but plans are underway to broaden the collection.
Last week, the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman voted to approve a lease with the Sons and Daughters of Frederick Douglass for a few hundred square feet in the V.O. Dobbins Complex.
‘It’s important to us to showcase the culture and history of the city of Kingsport,” Kingsport Community Planner Michael Price told News Channel 11. “That’s really what we’re hoping to do with this project.”
Price is helping museum organizers apply for a $100,000 grant from the state of Tennessee, to highlight the everyday life of Black Kingsportians in the first half of the 20th century.
Executive Director Linda Kincaid told News Channel 11 it’s a community that has deep roots.
“African-American individuals, their roots started in this town at the same time as the city,” Kincaid said.
In the meantime, Kincaid is working to collect and preserve forgotten and lesser-known stories from Kingsport’s past.
“These are individuals whose oral histories and their stories were in their hearts, and sometimes they were written on paper or shared in gatherings or stuffed in the archives of African-American churches, but they never had a place to showcase their rich heritage,” said Kincaid.
“This building, here, will be a place to house those tangible objects.”
Price said grant recipients will be announced in November.
Kincaid said she hopes for the museum to open late next summer.