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Month is too short to honor contributions by blacks

Staff Report • Feb 8, 2013 at 8:51 AM

It’s impossible to pay the proper respect to all the contributions black Americans have made in fewer than 30 days, but that is exactly what we attempt to do each February.

This is Black History Month, and we here in Tennessee are fortunate to have had many from our state make that history. One such individual was W.C. Handy, who gave a national voice to the blues.

In 1909, Handy and his band moved to Memphis where they made Beale Street their headquarters. One of Handy’s most famous compositions was originally written as a campaign song for E.H. “Boss” Crump, who was running for mayor of Memphis. The title of the song, “Mr. Crump,” was changed later to “Memphis Blues.”

Today, Handy is known as the “Father of the Blues” for single-handedly introducing this style of music to the world.

A park near his beloved Beale Street is named for him.

We also are blessed to have had many local residents who have helped to make black history. Many of these individuals have played important roles in religion, education and local government. One of the earliest pioneers in this regard was Dr. Hezekiah B. Hankal, a renowned physician, who was elected to what was then Johnson City’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen in 1873.

No park (or anything else for that matter) in Johnson City is named for him. That needs to be rectified.

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