Langston Centre Grand Opening

Please join us on November 17 from 2-5 pm for a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the grand opening of the newly renovated Langston Centre at 315 Elm St. in Johnson City, TN. The ceremony will begin promptly at 2:15 pm with light refreshments and building tours to follow. For additional information, email or call 423.434.6021.

Langston Lives! is officially sold out!

We’re overwhelmed by the positive response to our unique storytelling event set for Saturday! We’ve sold all 100 seats available at the International Storytelling Center!

If you were planning to come, but haven’t yet purchased tickets, please send an email to to let us know of your desire to attend. We’ll add your name to a waiting list and let you know if seats become available. We cannot guarantee tickets will be available at the door, and we don’t want you to be disappointed.

You also have an opportunity to interact with our featured guest Ms. Sheila Arnold during a free storytelling workshop planned for Saturday (2/16) morning. Ms. Arnold is a master storyteller who has years of experience instructing others in the art. She will certainly have lots of tips to share about using storytelling as a way to teach others about history.

Her workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Memorial Park Community Center, 510 Bert St., Johnson City, TN 37601. No registration is required, and the event is opened to all ages.

10 Days Left to Buy Tickets

You have 10 days left to buy your tickets for Langston Lives!, the unique storytelling event we’re hosting at the International Storytelling Center.

The venue can seat 100 people, and we’ve sold about half those seats. We know many folks like to wait til the last minute to buy tickets, but we encourage you not to do so. With a limited only number of tickets, you don’t want to be disappointed!

Buy tickets on Eventbrite or mail check made payable to LEAD to P. O. Box 111, Johnson City, TN 37605-0111.

Pre-Sale Tickets for Langston Lives! Now On Sale

For several months now, we’ve introduced you to notable alumni who have made a difference in the world using what they learned at Langston. Now we’re giving you a chance to meet some of these extraordinary people during a one-of-a-kind event set for mid-February.

The past will be brought to life during Langston Lives! Master storyteller Sheila Arnold will “become” notable Langston teachers and graduates. She’ll take on the personalities of some of the remarkable people who taught at and graduated from Langston High School. In this way, Ms. Arnold will convey the story and significance of Johnson City’s historic African-American high school.

For example, Ms. Arnold may give an impassioned sideline speech as legendary Coach Paul Christman, who led the school’s basketball and football teams to prominence and later became Science Hill’s first black coach. Or she may assume the personality of Dr. Hezekiah Hankal, the former slave and Johnson City alderman who founded Langston in 1893.

Langston Lives!, a gala featuring Ms. Arnold’s performance, “It Was Ours: Langston High School Through Memory’s Eye,” will be held Saturday, February 16 at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough. The event will feature a catered meal, delicious desserts and Ms. Arnold’s interpretive performance.

We’ll release many more event details as the date draws closer, but we wanted to make our supporters aware that tickets will be available during a special pre-sale event that starts TODAY! Tickets can be purchased online through Eventbrite at a reduced cost of $55 for individuals and $90 for couples. Prices will increase on Jan. 25, so act now to ensure the best value!

The event is being staged as a fundraiser to support LEAD’s efforts to develop a multicultural arts and education center in the school. If you or your business is interested in sponsoring the event, please send an email to

We look forward to seeing you on February 16!

One-of-a-Kind Event Set for February 16

We’re excited to announce a one-of-a-kind event coming next month! LEAD has partnered with Ms. Sheila Arnold, a master storyteller and historical interpreter, to create a unique portrayal of Langston High School’s history.

Langston Lives!, a gala featuring Ms. Arnold’s performance, “It Was Ours: Langston High School Through Memory’s Eye,” will be held on Saturday, February 16 at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough.

Tickets for this special event go on sale Friday, so be looking for more details headed your way later this week!

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.