As related by this article in the Johnson City Press, the Tennessee state convention of the NAACP will take place this week in Jonesborough. The oldest town in Tennessee at first seems an unlikely choice; relatively few black folks live in upper East Tennessee compared to Nashville or Memphis. The organization, however, rotates its annual conventions among the three Grand Divisions of the state, and locals made a strong case that their active chapter deserved to host everyone else.
Jonesborough has more than its share of African-American history. The article quotes Tour promoter Linda Poland, who says. “I’m sure they’re coming here due to our history, beginning in 1820 with the Elihu Embree anti-slavery newspapers like the Emancipator, carrying through the cholera epidemic of 1873, when Dr. Hezikiah Balch’s work really turned the tide on the epidemic and through the Warner Academy to educate the children of former slaves. We’ve never had a plantation economy and we were progressive before our time,” Poland said.