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.
Our slogan is “…Promoting unity within the community”
To download a brochure describing our projects and events, click here
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.
September 15, 2020
A “steering committee” has been formed from the relationships built between The Reunion of the Ages, Morristown Task Force of Diversity, Men of Vision, Morristown College Alumni and Friends. It is a combined effort on the part of these people to be instrumental in the renaming of Heritage Park.
For years, it has been an ongoing endeavor with the Reunion of the Ages to maintain the integrity of the college and its accomplishments. Our vision is to preserve the history and its contributions to the community of which it served.
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step! We are respectfully addressing you on this matter of renaming the park at the former site of Morristown College. The naming of the park was handled by our city officials of which we were not involved in that decision-making factor.
It is through this united partnership that we desire to bring forth the proper recognition that Morristown College duly deserves. It is the assurance and mutual agreement of all parties concerned that now is the time to influence the future!
On October 6, 2020, we will be addressing the City Council of Morristown at their monthly open hearing meeting which the public is welcomed to attend.
It is at this time and after much deliberation, we will be proposing that any affiliated signage would bear the name of “Legacy Park” | Former Site of Morristown College.
We are asking for your support and comments on this name change. The Reunion of the Ages website which is www.reunionoftheages.com has a designated email link specifically for you to post your comments.
If you agree that the name should be changed, please respond to Morristownlegacy@gmail.com and share this information with other alumni and friends.
Please utilize your Facebook and any other media you use to help us spread the word.
Darlene Ely, President of Reunion of the Ages
REUNION OF THE AGES | P.O. BOX 1751 | MORRISTOWN, TN 37816 – 1751
- Plan a fiesta! Prepare tasty food, play traditional mariachi music in the background and create “sombreros” as an art project for everyone!
- Light up young minds by introducing them to Hispanic artists and arts! Frida Kahlo’s paintings are a good start! Amazon has children’s books about Frida Kahlo, Louis Fuertes and Gabriel Garcia Marquez and that is only the beginning.
- Start learning Spanish! We all learned a little bit in school, so why not go all the way! Who knows where that might take you?