According to Calvin, James Street was a little block-long street between Louis Street and Wheatley Street. It fronted the side of the Douglass School auditorium, the school custodian’s apartment and what used to be the first home of Head Start.
Calvin said there was a controversy about the naming of the street. The Riverview Community wanted it named after James Stafford, an African-American businessman who lived on Dunbar Street and owned most of the rental units on Carver and Louis streets. But the city wanted the “James” to be James H. “Jimmy” Quillen. The community’s idea was the one chosen.
James Street is completely gone. It’s now the parking lot for the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Tower on the south end of the community center.
The other street Calvin remembered is Booker Street, a street that was located wholly within the Riverview Apartments. He explained that most of the apartments fronted Carver, Lincoln, Louis and Douglass streets, but one row of apartments with multiple bedrooms was on a street actually inside the complex itself. That was Booker Street, which also housed the Riverview Boys & Girls Club and a Kingsport Police Department substation.
Booker Street was named for Booker T. Washington, an educator, author and orator. Between 1890 and 1915, he was the leading voice of the African-American community.
Washington was a proponent of African-American businesses and one of the founders of the National Negro Business League. His was president of the Tuskegee Institute, a historically black college in Alabama, and he called for black progress through education and entrepreneurship.
After reading Calvin’s email, I remembered both of these streets and taking photographs at the Riverview Boys & Girls Club on Booker Street. In fact, I believe that Booker Street may still be there but no longer has a sign.
Thanks to Calvin for reminding me of these two streets.
Continuing the Black History Month celebration, I thought I would throw in a chance to test your knowledge with a quiz. There’s no time limit and the prize you are playing for is pride.
OK, PENCILS READY, AND BEGIN.
1. This American poet is considered the first important black writer in the United States. In 1772 she was forced to prove in court that she actually wrote the poetry bearing her name. After she faced a jury of Boston dignitaries, including future founding father John Hancock, they concluded she had written the poems and signed a document proclaiming such.
2. In 1787, this founding father became the president of the Philadelphia Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, often referred to as the Abolition Society.
3. This African-American is widely regarded as the first person killed in the Boston massacre on March 5, 1770, and thus the first American killed in the American Revolution.
4. This African-American was a social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer and statesman of the 1850s and ’60s. He pushed President Abraham Lincoln on the issue of black soldiers. After the war he continued to work for women’s rights.
5. This Union general convinced Lincoln to stop enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act and keep runaway slaves in the North as contraband of war rather than returning them south to the states they ran away from.
6. This Virginian became the first African-American to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
7. Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, an African-American, was the first doctor, black or white, to do this medical procedure.
8. In World War I, Eugene Jacques Bullard was the first African-American to do this in the military, but he had to join the French army to do it.
9. This person was the first African-American to play in the U.S. grass court championships at Forest Hills, New York, and at Wimbledon, England.
10. Who was the first elected African-American governor in U.S. history? Virginia readers should hang their head in shame if they don’t get this one.
11. Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to do this. She did it in 1992.
All right, pencils down. Time to check your work and see how you did.
1. Phillis Wheatley
2. Ben Franklin
3. Crispus Attucks
4. Frederick Douglass
5. Ben Butler
6. Born in Norfolk, Virginia, William Carney became a member of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. At the battle of Fort Wagner he picked up the flag from a fallen color bearer and, although suffering several wounds, led the regiment to the parapet of the fort, where he planted the colors. When heavy fire finally forced the regiment back, he retrieved the colors and brought them back. He later said, “Boys, I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground.”
7. In 1893, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performed the first successful closure of a wound of the heart and pericardium. That same year, President Grover Cleveland appointed him surgeon in chief of Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.
8. Eugene Jacques Bullard was the first African-American combat aviator. Almost three decades before the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, Bullard joined the French Foreign Legion at the start of World War I and on May 5, 1917, became the first black combat pilot. The “Black Swallow of Death” became part of the Lafayette Escadrille, a group of American Volunteers that flew for France before the United States entered the war.
9. Althea Gibson. In 1948 she won the first of 10 straight national black women’s singles titles. In 1950 she was the first African-American to play in the U.S. grass court championships at Forest Hills, New York, and in 1951 she was the first at Wimbledon. In 1956, she won the French women’s singles championship and the U.S. and British championships in both 1957 and ‘58. She was named to the National Lawn Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971.
10. Doug Wilder is the grandson of slaves and studied law at Howard University. As a Democrat, he was elected state senator in 1969, becoming the first African-American to serve in the Virginia legislature since Reconstruction. Wilder became Virginia’s lieutenant governor in 1986 and became the first elected African-American governor in U.S. history in 1990.
11. If you want to talk about a super smart person then you want to talk about Mae Jemison. She graduated high school at the age of 16 then attended Stanford University on scholarship, graduating with a B.S. degree in chemical engineering. After graduating from medical school (Cornell University, 1981), Jemison joined the Peace Corps, serving as its area medical officer from 1983 to 1985 in the West African countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. While all this may seem like a lot, Jemison also found time to become an astronaut and in September 1992 she became the first African-American woman to enter space when she served on the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
Ned Jilton II is a page designer and photographer for the Times News as well as the writer of the “Marching with the 19th” Civil War series. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .