The desegregation of public schools and the integration of Kingsport’s African-American students into Dobyns-Bennett High School led to the closing of Kingsport’s Douglass High School in 1966. At the time of the closing, Douglass was the largest African-American High School in the Upper East Tennessee Region.
The old Douglass School was eventually turned into the V.O. Dobbins Community Center (named after former principal Von Omer Dobbins). The building is currently undergoing a major renovation and expansion project and the City of Kingsport has worked closely with the Douglass High School Alumni Association to keep the memory of the school alive.
Prior to building of Douglass High School, the Oklahoma Grove School served as the city’s African-American School. The Oklahoma Grove School opened to African-American students in 1913.
The Oklahoma Grove School could not accommodate the growing population and in 1928 a contract was awarded to build Douglass High School between Myrtle and Walnut Streets (now East Sevier) , facing Center Street. The school housed K-12 and again the growing enrollment forced the city to consider a new site for the school.
In 1951, the Douglass School on Louis Street, in the Riverview Community of Kingsport, opened. The school, named after Frederick Douglass, the great orator, journalist and abolitionist, closed its doors on June 8, 1966. Nineteen seniors graduated that year in the school’s final commencement exercises.
For more information on the Douglass School please visit the archives or you can also check out the Douglass High School Alumni Association Website.