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Tanner students recall days at historic school

Published: 10:05 AM, 02/14/2013

Source: The Newport Plain Talk

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Tanner Preservation Committee continues its work to rescue and preserve the historic Tanner School, one of the few Rosenwald Schools remaining in America. Many students of the institution used the knowledge and wisdom gained there as springboards for success in many areas of life. One of these was the late Mayor Roland A. Dykes, Jr. In observance of Black History Month, the Tanner Preservation Committee has shared several of these autobiographical sketches with us.

In 1987 Roland Dykes, Jr. became Cocke County's second black elected official when he ran for and was elected to a position as member of Newport's Board of Alderman, following in the footsteps of Dr. Dennis Branch, Newport's first black alderman. Because he garnered the highest number of votes of the alderman candidates, he earned the position of vice-mayor. After the sudden death of Mayor Jim Robinson in the summer of 1998, Dykes was sworn in as Newport's first black mayor. A few months later, he ran for and was elected mayor in his own right. 

He was born April 30, 1931, in Newport, the only son and youngest of the children of Roland and Oray (Dawkins) Dykes. His older deceased sisters were Della Saunders, Nettie Sue Swagerty, Bernice Banks, Marian Berry, and Mamie Ray Julian. The only serving sister Essie Barton.

For more details, please see the Thursday edition of the Newport Plain Talk.


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