Morris-Baker Community Fund Donates $10,000 to Langston Rehab

 

 

A $10,000 donation from the Morris-Baker Community Fund will support ongoing work to rehabilitate Langston High School. Preston McKee, president of Morris-Baker Funeral Home, announced the gift during a press conference today held at the Johnson City Municipal Building.

McKee said the donation is intended to bring a once vibrant community resource back to life. It’s also a way to honor the long-time friendship between his grandfather, the late Carson Baker, Jr. who owned Morris-Baker Funeral Home, and J. Fletcher Birchette III, the president of Birchette Mortuary. Birchette, a 1962 Langston graduate, passed away in August 2017.

“Both my grandfather and Mr. Birchette were Johnson City natives who left the area to continue their educations but returned home where they operated successful businesses for decades,” McKee said. “Throughout the years, my grandfather and Mr. Birchette supported each other’s efforts to not only build their businesses but to improve the larger community as well.”

McKee said the Morris-Baker Community Fund builds on his grandfather’s legacy of giving back to the community. “As a company, we always look for ways to reinvest in our community, and the Langston project stood out, especially given my grandfather’s relationship with Mr. Birchette. We look forward to watching Langston take shape and continue to provide a positive role in Johnson City.”

Langston served the African-American community in Johnson City from 1893 until 1965 when the school closed following integration. LEAD is working to transform what remains of the school into a multi-cultural arts and education center for all ages. The Morris-Baker Community Fund donation brings the campaign a step closer to reaching the goal of $500,000.

“I am humbled that Mr. McKee would choose to honor his grandfather’s friendship with my father. My own family – and the larger Langston High family – are especially grateful that he chose to remember Fletcher Birchette in such a generous way,” said John F. Birchette IV, the current president of Birchette Mortuary who serves as treasurer on the LEAD executive board of directors.

“My father loved Langston and was the living embodiment of the school’s motto: ‘Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve.’ He spent his life quietly helping improve the community around him, and he would be so pleased to see the widespread support offered to this project,” Birchette said.

The effort to renovate Langston High School is a public-private partnership between the City of Johnson City and LEAD. Last summer, the city allocated $1.8 million to fund the project. LEAD is working to raise the remaining $500,000 needed to completely fund the rehab project. Well over half that amount has been raised in grant funding, corporate contributions and private donations.

At the project’s completion, the school’s gymnasium and shop will be transformed into a multicultural, multigenerational education center focused on STEAM education and mentorship programs. The space will also be used for special events, such as performances and professional networking socials, bringing together people of diverse backgrounds.

“This project is more than bricks and mortar. It’s an opportunity in our community to bring people together,” said Johnson City Vice Mayor Jenny Brock who spoke at the press conference. “We are stronger when all the voices in the community are gathered around the table,” she said.

LEAD Youth Ambassadors Honored by National Merit Scholars Program

 

Two LEAD Youth Ambassadors have been recognized as “Commended Students” in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program. Andrew M. Keith, second from left, and Rachel K. Smith, second from right, were honored at a Johnson City Schools Board of Education meeting on Nov. 6. 2018.

These Science Hill High School students have worked alongside our executive board and advisory committee members since LEAD’s inception. We are extremely proud of not only their academic achievements but of their commitment to improving their community! Well done, Drew and Rachel!

Construction is Underway!

For months, we’ve been raising money for renovations to the former Langston High School building. We’ve been talking about what the space will be used for and how it will benefit future generations. We’re excited by the possibilities this project offers and how it will shape our community for years to come.

Now, thanks to the dedication of many volunteers and the generosity of city leaders, businesses like General Shale and Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union and individual donors, we’re pleased to report that construction on the building has started in earnest.

Click through the gallery to see how work is progressing. We’ll post more pictures as the project takes shape.

A big thank you to the donors who have helped us reach this milestone. We couldn’t have done it without you!

You can be a part of this historic endeavor, too. Click here make a tax deductible contribution to Langston Education and Arts Development, Inc., and help preserve our school for posterity!

Who Doesn’t Like Pie?!?

 

As if you needed another reason to enjoy a piece of pie, Buttermilk Pie Shop has partnered with LEAD to raise money to fund renovations at Langston High School.

From September 11-13, 20 percent of proceeds from sales at Buttermilk Pie Shop will be donated to LEAD. The pie shop is located at 3135 People’s Street, Suite 300, Johnson City. You can check out their menu here

So go ahead and indulge! After all – it’s for a good cause!

Help Us Win $25,000

LEAD has a chance to secure $25,000 in grant funding from the First Tennessee Foundation, and we need your help to win!

All you need to do is vote for our video in the First Tennessee Foundation’s 25 Years of Giving contest. Just click the link and create an account. A valid email address is all you need to register.

Voting is now open, so please cast your ballot for our video. You can vote once per day until the polls close at midnight on Aug. 31.

The 25 videos with the most votes will advance to the next round. Winners will be announced on Oct. 25.

Thank you for helping us secure this funding that will help preserve Langston High School for future generations. We appreciate your continued support!

Public Forum Planned for Aug. 18 at Carver Rec

We have exciting news to share! Please join us for a public forum on Saturday, Aug. 18 from noon-2 p.m. at Carver Recreation Center, 322 W. Watauga Ave., Johnson City.

LEAD board members will give an update on our campaign and answer any questions you have about this exciting grassroots project.

We look forward to seeing you on Aug. 18!

Thanks to General Shale for Brick Donation

Without the support of businesses in our community, restoring Langston High School to its former glory would just not be possible. That’s why we’re so appreciative of General Shale.

General Shale has committed to donating the brick products required for the facility’s exterior additions as well as brick, masonry materials and labor for the front entrance fenced wall area.

The company’s donation will offset costs associated with the project, allowing LEAD to use funds raised to completely restore the building. When renovations are complete, Langston will serve as a multicultural center for the community. Youth arts and technology program will also be offered at the center.

Preserving Langston offers the chance to maintain a connection with the school’s historical past and an even brighter future. Her rebirth her legacy, and the legacy of Johnson City’s African-American community, will continue for future generations to learn from and enjoy.

LEAD is working with the City of Johnson City to preserve Langston High School, which served the African-American community from 1893-1965. It closed following desegregation and was used by Johnson City School’s maintenance department for years.

Indeed, restoration of Langston High requires a coordination of efforts. Everyone in our community must help with this endeavor. Donations from large corporations like General Shale are vital, but so are financial contributions from individual donors. It will take a united front to see our dream realized.

Learn how you can help by clicking here.

Letter from our President

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Something very exciting is happening at the historic Langston High School campus. The alumni of Langston High School in Johnson City, Tennessee, along with many friends and supporters from the community, are coming together with the City of Johnson City to preserve the historical campus of Langston High School, which served our Black community from 1893 to 1965. The Langston Educational and Arts Development Corporation, or LEAD, is the group spearheading this effort with local leaders.

LEAD seeks to preserve the cultural relevance and heritage of the Langston High School site and hopes to utilize the building as a multicultural community center for educational and artistic programs. Once the renovation is complete, LEAD members are committed to providing youth programming focused on computer science, theatrical arts, and mentoring in the facility. Further, the site is a highly-visible structure that serves as a gateway to the downtown Johnson City community, which can substantially impact improvements to downtown aesthetics and redevelopment.

Our organization is in a unique position to bridge a gap in our community’s development. Johnson City and the surrounding region as a whole lack a focal point and home for multicultural programs and endeavors. Having such a hub for multicultural programs helps to create a welcoming environment for the increasing diversity in our population. Having a welcoming environment for diverse populations is increasingly vital to economic development, and is especially illustrated by our regional employers’ need to retain a diverse workforce.

LEAD’s goal is to accomplish a capital campaign of $500,000 for the renovation. We are reaching out to numerous partners for help in making this facility a sustainable reality so the integrity, legacy and historical value of Langston High School campus can be preserved for the posterity and enhancement of the community. We ask you to join us in this noble project. Please help us show the commitment of our community by making a donation.

Thank you for your interest and support of our project.

Sincerely,

Michael Young
Langston High School, ‘65
President, LEAD

Carla Forney
Langston High School, ‘65
Campaign Chair, LEAD