- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 27 Jan 2007.
Mrs. Gladys L. Dockery obituary
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 18 Jan 2009.
Mama would have been off the hinges
Author: Duay O'Neil
NEWPORT-When Barrack Obama takes his oath of office as the 44th President of the United States on Tuesday, at least one Cocke County resident hopes American citizens will give him time to prove himself.
"I think one of his biggest challenges will be that some people see him as the savior of the world. He can't fix everything in 24 hours," said Shedenna Dockery, a Child Protective Services investigator and local community leader.
"He will have his failures like everyone else," she continued, "and people will nitpick like they always do."
Dockery's political memories stretch back to the 1970s when Jimmy Carter became President.
"He was the first President I could listen to and understand," said Dockery, who was in high school at the time. "I was always interested in politics and read about him. I really liked the way he had grown up and worked his way to success. Mama liked him, too. She always said he was too good of a man to be President."
"Mama" was the late Gladys Dockery, who took an active role in the Cocke County Democratic Party when it was reorganized about ten years ago.
"If Mama had been here today, she would have been off the hinges," said Dockery. "She would have been so excited."
According to Dockery, her mother's political activism came later in life. "When we were little, we didn't hear our parents say much about politics. They were too busy working and making a living to feed us."
By the time of her father's death in 1981, most of the large brood of Dockery children were grown. "Mama just sort of bloomed after that and took a great interest in the community," she said. Gladys Dockery died suddenly in January, 2007.
Dockery also likes Obama's family. "I tell people my favorite thing about him is his wife Michelle. It's wonderful to see a President with a strong, educated wife with an identity of her own," she said.
Like many people, Dockery admits that when the 2008 Presidential campaign cranked up, she didn't seriously think Obama had much of a chance to gain the Democratic nomination.
"Hillary Clinton had the black vote tied up with a bow when the campaign started," said Dockery, "but he caught the American people's attention and imagination. I also think it's good that Obama was elected by the votes of everybody-not just African-Americans. Don't forget-when Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton ran, lots of black people didn't vote for them."
"I heard Obama's speech when John Kerry ran for President," said Dockery, "and was really impressed, but quite frankly, I forgot about him afterwards until this last campaign."
Dockery has the distinction of having attended Tanner School the last year before the integration of Cocke County's school system. "I was about 4 or 5 years old and started to Head Start. I think I spent most of my time is Miss Essie's (Essie Barton) office," she laughs.
As the seventh of eight Dockery children, she doesn't recall any "real" racial problems when she was a student at Newport Grammar School. "My older brothers and sisters had sort of set things up, so when I came along things went pretty well," she explains.
There was an issue once with a teacher who asked her parents, "Doesn't she have anything else at home to read?", after noticing Dockery reading articles in such magazines as Ebony and Jet. "I think she asked them that during a parent-teacher conference. I remember my dad going off on her."
She also remembers her older sister, Rementna, now a registered nurse in Knoxville, crying because of being placed in a special education class after the schools integrated. "She had to dig her way out of there," said Dockery, "and there was absolutely no reason for her to be in there in the first place."
Upon entering Cocke County High School, Dockery again experienced no "real" racial problems.
"As a black student, you were chastised by other blacks if you spent too much time with white students or if you appeared to be too smart. It was okay to make good grades, so long as you didn't let anyone know about it," she recalled.
In the early 1980s, when Dockery's two children, Bradley, now 26, and LaToya, now 23, came of school age, they followed in their mother's footsteps as NGS students.
She has high praise for retired NGS teacher Sue Clark, who recognized Bradley's dyslexia when he was in her sixth-grade class and suggested testing.
"It still bothers me that nobody caught Bradley's problem earlier. I can't help but think that if he had been white, someone would have called and recommended testing, instead of assuming that he acted 'the way black boys do'," Dockery said.
Because of Clark's recommendation and subsequent testing, Dockery sent her son to Sylvan Learning Center for a year and a half. "They worked wonders," she said.
It was also in the mid-80s that Dockery experienced frustration when she sought a job at a Newport business. "Karen Rice had worked there during the mid-1980s for several years, and after she left, no black person was hired for about 4 or 5 years," said Dockery. "I applied for a job and was told later that my application had been misplaced. After this happened again, I sat down and told them I would wait until they found it."
Eventually Dockery got the job, first as a cashier, and later as a customer service assistant.
Later Dockery began taking classes at Walters State Community College and later finished her bachelor's degree at Tusculum College.
In her work with CPS, Dockery often hears teenagers bemoan the lack of opportunities, especially for African-American students.
"Now that Mr. Obama has been elected, I tell them the time for making excuses is over," said Dockery. "Younger kids need to buckle down and stop making excuses."
"Many things have changed over the years," said Dockery, "many for the better. But there will always be problems that need to be addressed."
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 6 Aug 2010.
Historic Jaybird Cemetery dedicated in Tuesday ceremony
(c) 2010 NPT Photo by Duay O'Neil
Among those attending "Whispers from the Grave," a dedication of the historic Jaybird Cemetery, were, from left, Kate Levy, Adell Davis, Amanda Belton, Otelia Woods, Kathy McCravy, Phyllis Ramsey, Dion Dykes, Sr., Gladstone Gunn, Carrie Ramsey, Roberta Elliott, Shedenna Dockery, Markeita Dockery, and Mary Lynn Dykes.
Author: Duay O'Neil
NEWPORT-With temperatures stubbornly hovering in the mid-90's, descendants of Cocke County citizens buried in the historic Jaybird Cemetery gathered Tuesday evening to dedicate the burial ground in memory of dozens of loved ones interred there.
As part of a weeklong series of events planned by the Tanner Community Action Initiative in celebration of Emancipation Week 2010, "Whispers from the Grave" celebrated the ongoing and successful restoration project of a cemetery where many of the earliest interments were those of men and women born into slavery.
Following a welcome by TCAI President Shedenna Dockery, TCAI Historian Amanda Belton sang "In Times Like These," a moving gospel tribute.
Those attending the ceremony then toured the cemetery and listened as several family members shared memories and stories about loved ones buried there.
First to speak was Kathy McCravy, niece of Korean War casualty Harold Carr. "My uncle joined the service at age 15," said McCravy, "just a teenager."
According to Carr's tombstone, the young soldier was born June 5, 1934, and served as a private in the 761st Tank Battalion until his death November 29, 1950 at age 16.
Bessie Thomas has many relatives buried in the cemetery, including her father, five brothers, numerous aunts, and "lots of kinsfolks."
As the group gathered at the grave of her brother Rudolph Swagerty, Thomas thanked "all who helped with the cemetery project" and then ended her comments by reading a poem about homecoming.
Adell Swagerty Davis told about her grandfather J. D. Woods. "As I prepared for tonight," said Davis, "I came up here to visit the cemetery and was surprised to see that my grandfather's birthday is the same as my cell phone number."
"My grandfather was born in 1888 and was a sharecropper in the Wilsonville community," said Davis. "He and my grandmother Sue Addie were the parents of five children-Carrie, Zora, Matilda, William, and Walter 'Pee Wee.'"
Davis ended her talk by reading the poem "A Sharecropper" by Langston Hughes.
The great-great-grandson of Galleon Ramsey, Roger Ramsey, Jr., told how his ancestor served in the U. S. Marines service corps. "At that time, he wasn't allowed to fight," said Ramsey.
"He was born in 1892 and married Carrie Woods. He was a son of Griffin Ramsey and Jane Clark. Their son Chester is buried here, too."
Ramsey said his ancestor returned to Cocke County after leaving the military. "He was working in the fields, came home and drank a glass of cold water, and then took pneumonia and died," said Ramsey.
Dion Dykes, Sr. shared stories about his great-grandfather Henry Sanford Roland Dykes, who was born in Rome, Georgia in 1878 and came to Newport in the 1920s.
"He married Mary Ann Wade, who was also from Georgia," said Dykes, "and was a brick mason and a traveling Methodist minister. He built the present Woodlawn United Methodist Church where many of our family still belong."
Shedenna Dockery was the last to speak and told about her ancestors Ambrose Burnside "Burn" Dockery and his wife, the former Mary Ann Wynn, who moved to Newport from Sevierville and established the first known Newport business owned by African-Americans.
"He was born in 1865," said Dockery, "the seventh of fifteen children of Isaac and Charlotte Dockery. He eventually became blind because of the brick dust from his work. Before Tanner School was built, children attended classes in a building behind their house."
Another grave of note is that of Harriett Wilson, whose marker gives her year of birth as 1853.
Wilson died in 1958 at age 105. Among those attending Tuesday's ceremony was Otelia Woods, who lived with Wilson at one time. "Her house was just over there," said Woods.
Amanda Belton ended the program by leading the group singing of "I'll Fly Away."