Huntingdon’s  black community highlighted

Gina Atkins

For the past three weeks, as part of the Town of Huntingdon’s Bicentennial celebration and in conjunction with Black History Month, articles have been published in the local newspaper honoring black families and individuals who have made notable contributions to the town of Huntingdon.

We are honoring people from different vocations and professions, beginning with the city council: Mr. Curtis Owens was a member of the  council and served as vice mayor. He was also a teacher and principal at Hale School in Huntingdon. Hale school was located where the current Huntingdon Primary School is now.

That is the school where Huntingdon’s black students attended primary through Jr, High school during segregation. The students in high school either drove or were bussed to Webb School in McKenzie. Mr. Harold Howard was a member of the city council and was also a teacher and principal at Hale School. Mr. Howard was also the owner of Howard’s Barber Shop, which he left to his great-nephew, Mr. Desmond Taylor, who is still owner and operator of Howard’s Barber Shop. Mr. Clarence Norman was a member of the city council for 12 years, and was the first black Captain of the Huntingdon Fire Department. He and his wife, Ruby were also owners of R & C Ice Cream, operating an Ice Cream Truck that supplied treats all over town for many years. Mr. Norman is also a past president of the Carroll County Chapter of the NAACP. Will Atkins is the most recent black member of the Huntingdon Town council. He and his wife, Amy are youth ministers at First Pentecostal Church in Huntingdon. 

In Law Enforcement: Russell Pearson was the first black police officer  employed by the Town of Huntingdon. As the DARE officer for the department, he became well loved and respected by all of the  students and their parents for showing so much love for their children. Huntingdon native Dakota Jordan is a member of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Huntingdon native Chasity Strayhorn was employed by the Huntingdon Police Department and now is a  member of the City of Milan Police Department. Patrick Cozart, a Huntingdon native is currently employed by the Jackson Police Department where he has served in several capacities for the last 8 years. All of these officers are well respected and  loved in their communities. 

In Medicine: Dr. John Bethel Bell was a black doctor who practiced medicine from a rented room in the home of Mr. Clarence Norman where he was raised by his mother, Rosebud Norman Anderson and his great-grandparents, Jim and Sally Norman. It is said that Dr. Bell treated patients from many states other than Tennessee. Dr. Joseph Bryant, a Huntingdon native and brother of the late Melba Bryant, is retired now.. His credentials: He served as Director of the Division of  Animal Models, Institute of Human Virology, Professor, Medicine University of Maryland School of Medicine. Ms. Shayna Hampton, a native of Huntingdonm who now lives away, is a Nurse Practitioner. She is the daughter of Cynthia Poole McNeil and Pat Hampton and is the granddaughter of Ms. Cora Poole. Mrs. Lakeshia Yarbrough, DNP,APRN,FNP-C is a young black woman who is now a primary care provider at Hometown Health  Clinic in Huntingdon. She resides in Huntingdon with her husband and son.  James (Mike) Thomas was the first black EMT in Huntingdon.

Teachers: Ms. Saphronia Boyd, Mrs. Mary Warford, Mrs. Annie Webb, Mrs. Maggie Townes and her daughter Elizabeth, Ms. Ludie Williams, Mrs. Earlie Mae Howard, Mrs. Oneita Price, Mrs. Teresa Hale Donald, Mrs. Sarah Bond, Mrs. Ruby Hunt, Ms. Alex Hunt, Mrs. Sabra Moore Johnson, who was also a past president of the Carroll County Chapter of the NAACP. Mrs. Daisy Dudley and Mrs. Mary Nolen lived in McKenzie, but taught many years in Huntingdon. Mr. David Hale lived in Atwood, but he also taught and coached many years in Huntingdon. He was also vice-principal at Huntingdon Middle School. Mr. Steven Bell was a teacher and principal for many years, Mr. Thornton Warford, was a principal at Webb School in McKenzie.

Firsts: Ms Taffany Rivers was the first female firefighter for the Huntingdon Fire  Department. She now resides in Nashville. Mrs. Paula Clark was the first black full-time employee for the State of Tennessee Office of  Employment Security, which is now known as the Career Center. She worked in Huntingdon for 38 years, retiring in April of 2012. Mrs. Clark’s husband, Mr. Robert Clark, Jr. is the first black railroad engineer from Huntingdon, beginning his career on November 11, 1970 and retiring on  July 31, 2009. He is now traveling the US and Canada as a tour bus driver for Gray Line. Mrs. Rosetta Porter Clark was the first black bank  teller in Huntingdon, and is now a retired teacher. The late Mrs. Ruby Tharpe was the first black cheerleader for Huntingdon High School, the first black vice-president at Bank of Huntingdon and the first black supervisor over admissions at Baptist Memorial Hospital.

Sadarius Hutcherson, a graduate of HHS is the first black football player from Huntingdon to become an NFL player, playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sadarius is the son of Brenda and Anthony Jamison and big brother to Antarius.  Shan’Darrius Fulton, a graduate of HHS, who is now an airline pilot/First Officer at Mesa Airlines. Shan’Darrius is the son of Mr. Cedric and Mrs. Tandria Edmonds and the big brother of Ayana. Mrs. Ramona Bond, a native of Huntingdon, was the first black majorette in the HHS marching Mustangs Band. She was a feature baton twirler, twirling  fire batons and swords. Also, Ramona was the first and only black woman  from Huntingdon to snag a roll in a daytime soap opera, playing the roll in All My Children as Miss Pine Valley. Mrs. Lindsay Atkins Quarles was the first little black girl to win Little Ms. Huntingdon. She then grew up to win Ms. Huntingdon. She now resides in Clarksville with her husband and two sons. April Knight Cornelison was the first black to win Jr. Miss Huntingdon, and the first black woman from Huntingdon to become an attorney. 

Business: Mrs. Mary T’s, Restaurant owned by Mr. Lee and Mrs. Mary T. Rogers.

Cox Funeral Home was owned by Mr. Albert and Mrs. Annie Cox. After their deaths, the funeral home was owned by the sister of Mrs. Cox, Ms.Corinne Johnson and later by their nephew, Earl Wade. Mrs. Versie Lee Hicks Beauty Shop, Ms. Irene Williams Beauty Shop, Elizabeth’s Beauty Shop, Hair Express was formerly owned by Mrs. Rita Cunningham and Mrs. Mattie Jamison, now is owned solely by Mrs. Mattie Jamison. Chester’s Store was owned by Chester Weathers.

Anthony Thomas is the owner of Cash Flow Cash Advance located on Paris Street, A1 PRO WASH, located on Main Street, and SEAL TEKK Living Well Vegetarian Restaurant is owned and operated by Lisa Frazee and is located on Main Street.

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