Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Diversity Festival in Cocke county is one of those things that makes me swell with pride for my little community.

The history of the festival began six years ago. The Ku Klux Klan for some bizarre reason chose Newport, TN to have a rally. Why Newport? Beats the hell out of me. I guess it's just safer for them than having it in Harlem, Washington Heights, Seattle, San Francisco, L.A. or south Atlanta. I think we would be in for some serious Klan ass-whuppings if they chose to exercise their right to free hate speech in any of those places. And blood stains are just so damn hard to get out of whites, so I suppose dry cleaning bills were a concern as well.

So Newport's little community organized a festival synchronized on the date of the Klan rally to offer citizens a hate-free alternative. It has not been without its ups and downs. Our black mayor in 2002, Roland Dykes, had a cross burned on his front yard three days before the rally that year. One of my sources told me the late Mayor Dykes quipped that he roasted a wienie on the thing. "Best damn hotdog, I ever ate." He said.

The Festival's stance was to just stay away from the rally and to quietly protest by attending the festival. This didn't stop outsiders from coming in to protest. And this was okay since all of the Klan members were outsiders as well.

The Klan seems to have stopped trying to come to Newport so I guess whatever we all did worked.

But we still get together every year to see all of the wonderful and different sorts of people who make their homes here.


  1. Anonymous said...
    Has 2007 Diversity Festival done past? when?
    Rosie said...
    Yes, Anon...they hold the festival in January. I wrote this post on the 13th which was probably the day of the festival.

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