Residents seek to preserve Union City’s black history

Residents seek to preserve Union City’s black history

Residents seek to preserve Union City’s black history | Colored Hotel Heritage Foundation
It was a haven for weary travelers in its day — the only place an African American moving down the highways between Memphis and Chicago could find accommodations during the era of segregation.
It was also a social lighthouse, beckoning music lovers to hear the likes of BB King, Bobby Blue Bland, Ike and Tina Turner, Rufus and Carla Thomas and the Verbs, a local band who released several records.
The Colored Hotel Heritage Foundation — a 501C3 organization — is seeking to preserve the structure and educate the community and those who visit the area for a variety of purposes about the hotel’s important role in the city and the lives of African Americans during the last century.
The board has secured incorporation by the State of Tennessee as a non-profit entity and accomplished its goal of having the building placed on the Tennessee Preservation Trust’s “Ten in Tennessee” endangered list for 2006.
In January the hotel, which was built around 1950, was nominated by the Tennessee Historical Commission review board for the National Historical Register of Historical Places.
Foundation board members hope to convert the upstairs in the structure to a replica of a bed and breakfast and to include an area that will focus on memorabilia that will preserve the history and pay tribute to the students who attended the former Miles High School — the community’s educational facility for African American students until the 1970s.
Planners also envision a “What Was” room that will include items donated from businesses thriving in the African American community in the era of segregation and a “Today” room that will focus on successful entities serving the commercial needs of citizens today.
A proposed “Outreach Center” housed at the facility would offer assistance to those trying to recover from alcohol and drug addiction and to re-enter the work force.
The Miles Alumni Association will be offered a “home” there, as will the Casey-Johnson Lions Club and the Obion County Ministerial Alliance.
Recently, the foundation staged a spiritual concert featuring several local performers at the Union City Civic Auditorium. (See related photo Page 14.) Local artists including Ashley Smith, Bryan Keathley, Tameka Coble, Chelsey Smith, Bobby Joe Lockridge, Debra Gilmore, Tim Gantt, Bridgett Keathley, Jamie Worrell, LaPrasha Bishop, Justin Keathley and Tim Mayberry performed at the foundation fundraiser. Bishop Barbara Bolden was mistress of ceremonies.
Others fundraisers are planned in the future, according to Daniels.
Those who wish to make donations to the effort to restore the building, preserve and promote its history and equip it to serve present needs may contact Daniels at 885-3745. Those with items to donate may also contact Daniels.
Board members include Daniels, vice president Linda Williams, secretary Doris Robinson, assistant secretary Treva Daniels, treasurer Jerry Ward, Bishop Bolden, Ron Green, Dwayne Hensley, Billy Johnson, Kathy Johnson, Jimmy Jones, Barbara McKay, Chris McPherson, Regina Turner, Clarence Williams and Emily Elliston.
In the event the foundation ceases to exist, all assets will be transferred to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northwest Tennessee, Daniels said.
Published in The Messenger 5.9.08

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