Very simply, we are a volunteer organization that seeks to build unity within our community through activities, projects, partnerships and collaborations which lift up and celebrate diversity, inclusion and appreciation, and respect for our differences.
We welcome your interest and invite you to contact us if you would like to join our efforts.
The organization was established in 2008 by then city mayor, Barbara “Sami” Barile as the Mayor’s Task Force on Diversity. In 2010 we became part of the Rose Center family of organizations and changed our name to Morristown Task Force on Diversity. We are currently working toward 501c status.
Although we are not operated by city government, we continue to maintain significant connection with that entity and see our work within the context of building awareness and relationships within our community as public service and commitment to justice. We believe this is best done by celebrating the gifts that the diversity of our population provides.
Opening ourselves to learn about others and be able to celebrate differences is especially important for our population and history.
To acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of our community and to promote acceptance and understanding among its residents.
To make Morristown a city where all individuals are equally valued solely “by the content of their character,” and are welcomed and celebrated for the uniqueness they contribute to the community.
Promoting unity within the community
The ethnic basis of Morristown, the county seat of Hamblen County, is that 80% of our population traces its heritage to Europe, primarily Scotland, Ireland and England. 16% of our population is Spanish-speaking with origins in the Southern Hemisphere. 4% of the population counts its heritage as primarily African-American.
Interestingly, one hundred forty years ago, Hamblen County had a significant number of free, black landowners. And, our community remembers with both nostalgia and some pride, those years when Morristown College, a historic and important black college, was vibrant and active. The college was founded in 1881 by the national Freedman’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The school was renamed Knoxville College-Morristown in 1989 and closed in 1994.
A cooperative plan by the city and developers is in the works to convert Judson’s Hill, the old Morristown College campus, into a combined use area for different kinds of housing, shops and a community center. The plan is to find ways of preserving and incorporating the heritage of Morristown College into the plan.
All of this is to say that relationships between all people of color and white residents in Hamblen County have been complex. Black residents of Morristown knew and experienced the same prejudice and denial of civil rights that is part of our nation’s history. At the same time, planted in this region, was both a lifestyle and an institution that created opportunity and trained its students for success and position in the larger society. It was, quite literally, a light shining from a hill – Judson’s Hill.
The rapid growth of the Spanish-speaking population in Hamblen County has brought some of the same incorporation issues that can be found in other parts of the country. Likewise, our community is enriched and broadened in learning about the different cultural features of one another.
The economic bases of our community until the late 1940’s were twofold. They were farming (especially tobacco growing) and small, family-owned businesses. Light industrial manufacturing began to arrive after WWII.
The greatest growth happened in the 1970’s and 1980’s as international businesses began establishing manufacturing plants here. Now, seventeen different countries are represented in our industrial base. When one goes to the grocery store, one hears different languages and sees products from around the world. Our health system is populated by professionals who come from around the world.
With such a significant portion of our population having roots outside our community, it would be easy to assume that there are few issues of inclusion in our community. But as elsewhere, there are faces and voices that are not heard often in governance, leadership or decision making. As elsewhere, there are some who can celebrate the differences in people and others who cannot.
We believe that recognizing the culture and differences of our people creates a mechanism for greater understanding and appreciation. Finding ways to gather and learn about others lowers the level of fear and suspicion and adds both depth and breadth to our community.
Sometimes, confrontation about issues related to intolerance is essential. However, we believe that in the longer term, celebrating our gifts, our histories, our experiences and our cultures opens pathways to long-lasting cooperation and the kind of deep respect that benefit all.
So…this Task Force is composed of a group of people who see building relationships, cultural awareness and diversity as adding value and strength to our community. We are a stronger, fairer, more cooperative and healthier community when we can work and play and learn together.
Date of Birth:
August 25, 1987
Georgetown, South Carolina
High School: Georgetown (‘06)
Bachelor’s: Jacksonville (‘10)
Master’s: Liberty (21’)
Uncle – John Smalls Morgan State University (Football)
Cousin — Brian Smalls University of Michigan (Football)
2006-08 Walters State
2008-2010 Jacksonville (Florida)
Jasmin Coleman — the 2021 TCCAA Coach of the Year and Appalachian District Coach of the Year — boasts an impressive resume in her first season leading the Lady Senator basketball program.
During the 2020-21 campaign, Coleman guided her team to a 13-4 record and TCCAA regular season championship The Lady Senators won the TCCAA Region 7 tournament championship and competed in the programs 17th NJCAA national tournament.
Her squad was led by 6 sophomores, including 2nd Team All-American, TCCAA Player of the Year, and TCCAA Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player Blayre Shultz, First Team All- TCCAA selection and Freshman of the Year Madison McCoy, and First Team All-TCCAA Quentarra Mitchell.
Under her guidance, two Lady Senator student-athletes – Jaida Wiggins and Madison McCoy – have been named NJCAA Academic All-American, while 4 (Haley Comer, Vertonia Bady, Jaida Wiggins, and Madison McCoy) have garnered All-TCCAA Academic honors.
Coleman was official appointed just the second full-time head coach in the program’s illustrious history and first black head coach in school history on Monday, July 21, 2021.
She entered her current position as Lady Senators head coach with 10 seasons of coaching experience as assistant coach all spent at Walters State.
During her time as assistant coach, Coleman displayed the ability to both sign premier prospects and then help those recruits develop into highly successful players.
Coleman helped Walters State land eventual NJCAA All-Americans and TCCAA All-Conference in each year as assistant coach at Walters State. Complying the highest percentage of Division one signees in 9 years as assistant with 28 to programs 49 Division one signees in 40 years pervious to her arrival.
Coleman succeeded Dave Kragel, the only previous full-time women’s basketball coach in the program’s history. Kragel announced his retirement in April 2020 after 43 seasons. Kragel compiled a 1,009-281 record at Walters State, making him the winningest women’s coach in NJCAA history.
Coleman was name to the prestigious North Carolina/South Carolina All-Star team, after leading Georgetown High School to the programs first Conference Championship her senior season. She also won four conference titles in volleyball and was selected as the school’s Homecoming Queen.
At Walters State, Coleman was a significant contributor to two teams that reached post-season play — the 2005 and 2006 TCCAA Tournament Champions and NJCAA National Tournaments. She was a starter and captain in her sophomore season and is among the top 15 in 3-point makes & percentage in school history.
She received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Jacksonville in 2010 and master’s degree in Sports Management-Sport Administration from Liberty University 2021.
Coleman is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated and the NAACP.
Betsy Bonilla Jimenez-Hurst currently serves as the Executive Director of HOLA Lakeway. She is a native of Costa Rica. She holds a B.S. in Management of Nonprofit Organizations and an M.S. in Business Administration/Leadership, both from Johnson University. She has 20 years of experience working with immigrant families in East Tennessee. She also has a background in education, specifically helping children and adults in English as a second language and adult education.
Keisha Griffin Monroe is owner and CEO of Lavishly Local LLC, a social media management, marketing & event agency that specializes in the growth and branding of small businesses. She is an active member of the Morristown Task Force on Diversity, a board member with Girls Inc and Vice President of the Hamblen County NAACP.
She enjoys planning and hosting events and birthed Hamblen County’s first annual Juneteenth Celebration, which is approaching its 3rd year.Keisha is a Jefferson County native but spent many summers with family on Cain Ave, countless weekends bartending at City Lights (Smokehouse), and many evenings hooping at Talley Ward, so considers Morristown home.
She is a boy Mom to 3 young men, one of which has 4 legs and spends most evenings watching them play sports.Keisha is a lover of good wine, food-ventures and football. She follows in her father’s footsteps with a love for the San Francisco 49ers and shares her mother’s passion for the UT Vols. Due to ACL injury she is now a former player for the Knoxville Lightning, a Semi Pro Women’s Football Team and part owner of a local Men’s Semi Pro team.
Keisha is passionate about the growth and longevity of small businesses and the diversity in her community and hopes to continue to find unique ways to be of service.