Mr. Keith McDaniel, author, teacher, documentary filmmaker, owner of Secret City Films, and Knoxville Film Festival Executive Director and Mr. Ray Smith, City of Oak, Tennessee Historian, have much in common and have worked together on several projects over the years combining their many shared skills and unique talents to bring history to light and alive.
I was honored (and yes, of course terrified) when they recently hosted me as a guest on their program Hidden History: Stories from the Secret City and invited me to share a bit of the story and progress on my journey to write a book on the integration of Oak Ridge, TN. (Video below.)
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The young Black man stood against the backdrop of Trinity United Methodist Church on Robertsville Road in the late afternoon. Jefferson Avenue stretched across the way. It was the summer of 1963 and the picketers had gathered again outside the MultiMatic Laundry at the end of the West Mall and Market Area in Jefferson Center. Their goal: integrate the laundromat.
Continue reading “PART 2: The Integration of Oak Ridge ~ The Secret City”
I almost quit. I didn’t think I could write the article. But it made the front page of the Friday print edition of the Oak Ridger newspaper under the city historian Mr. Ray Smith’s Historically Speaking column.
The battle to write is fierce. I’ve cried my way through writing articles, written under the weight of discouragement and doubt, thought I’d never finish some pieces, and almost didn’t submit others. But several of the hardest pieces to write opened doors, won awards, and people blessed me when they shared my writing ministered to them. —Don’t quit.
Created in 1942, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, also known as the Secret City and the Atomic City, was one of the three major sites set up as part of the U.S. government’s Manhattan Project. The scientists at the laboratory in the Secret City developed the materials to build the atomic bomb that ended WWII. But Oak Ridge has other stories. Twenty years after its inception, Black citizens, many of whom the government had brought in to build the laboratory and city, still lived under the oppressive culture and restrictions of Jim Crow segregation laws.
This article is the first in a series Mr. Smith invited me to write for his column. (Thank you.) 🙂 The articles and the book I’m writing on the integration of Oak Ridge in the 1960s were first inspired by the stories of my father-in-law and his best friend. They will feature the accounts of many valiant souls with a message for today.
“Beneath Dr. James Spicer’s charming drawl and calm demeanor lies a steely resolve, a…” Click HERE to read my article in the Oak Ridger newspaper: The Integration of Oak Ridge: A Unique Perspective
Continue reading “The Integration of Oak Ridge ~ The Secret City”