Mt. Olive Cemetery Preservation Society Public Relations
August 20, 2020
Clarksville Montgomery County African American Legacy Trail Approved by State of TN for Welcome Centers
The State of Tennessee’s Tourism Development Welcome Center Division approved the Clarksville Montgomery County African American Legacy Trail brochure for the shelves of all sixteen Welcome Centers along the Tennessee Interstate Highway System. The Clarksville Montgomery County African American Legacy Trail brochure features prominent Black leaders and meeting places in Clarksville and Montgomery County. Some of those featured are Dr. Robert T. Burt and Emma Williams Burt who operated the first hospital in Clarksville out of their home; as well as Wilma Rudolph, three time gold medalist in the Olympics; Steve Wylie, professional Canadian baseball player; Wilbur N. Daniel, the first African American graduate of Austin Peay State University; Clarence Cameron White, award winning composer, and many more. A few of the locations featured are Bethel Meeting House, Guildfield Missionary Baptist Church, South Guthrie Community Center, Mt. Olive Cemetery and more.
The effort to place the brochures statewide is all thanks to members of the nonprofit Mt. Olive Cemetery Historical Preservation Society who have worked with members of the Clarksville community to distribute the brochure.
“If you talk more than you do, then you will never get done all of what you say,” Arthur Nicholson, President of Mt. Olive, said. “But if you think more than you talk and do more than you think, then probably all of what you say and most of what you think will get done. These words are a testament of what the members of Mt. Olive Cemetery Historical Preservation Society and friends have done and are doing to preserve the history and legacy of those buried at Mt. Olive Cemetery.”
Mt. Olive Cemetery is home to over twenty graves of U.S. Colored Troops as well as over a thousand people from the Clarksville African American community.
“The struggle for those buried at Mt. Olive was real, and we must not forget that, or allow time to fade the importance of their struggle,” Nicholson reminds us. “To that end we are committed to the legacy of their struggle and to speak for each of them through our efforts to make their story heard by preserving Mt. Olive Cemetery and their remains.”
Mt. Olive’s mission is to preserve the Cemetery as well as to promote and ensure the preservation of African American history and culture in Clarksville.
The community stepped up to pay for the cost of printing the brochures which are located for free around town. While a few thousand copies have been available across Clarksville in the past year, the effort to distribute statewide called for more funds. Local leader and retired veteran Joe Shakeenab donated the funds for the first 10,000 copies to go into Welcome Centers statewide.
“I’m honored to contribute to the endeavors of Mount Olive Preservation Society in a significant way,” Shakeenab said. “Collectively, we must continue to support the preservation of history through advocacy, education, and by providing updated products.”
Shakeenab retired from the U.S. Army as a Chief Warrant Officer Four (CW4) in 2010. He has been a Montgomery County resident for decades and is a candidate for Clarksville City Council in Ward 12 this year. He is an active member of the Clarksville community, a graduate of Austin Peay, and President of the Austin Peay State University Alumni Association. In 2014, Shakeenab received the NAACP Award for Lifetime of Leadership and Community Service. Shakeenab is also the Vice President of the Montgomery County Veterans Coalition, another nonprofit that works on behalf of and highlights the service of veterans in Clarksville and Montgomery County.
“The Mt. Olive Cemetery Historical Preservation Society’s work is so important for future generations,” Sherry Pickering, the Executive Director of the Montgomery County Veterans Coalition, said. “There are far too many African American soldiers whose graves have been lost to history, because organizations such as this did not step in to preserve them.”
Getting the brochures onto the shelves of the Tennessee Welcome Centers was also thanks to the effort behind the scenes by Michelle Dickerson, Media and Marketing Director for Visit Clarksville, and Terry Morris, member of Mt. Olive and Public Relations Coordinator for the Legacy Trail.
“This is a great step, and we want to see this grow and connect to the National Civil Rights Trail,” Morris said. “This is part of a bigger story that includes other people and places. It’s part of Clarksville and goes beyond it. We need to share and connect those stories. It’s a national legacy that Clarksville is a part of.”
The Clarksville Montgomery County African American Legacy Trail brochure was founded in 2019 in a community volunteer effort by Shana Thornton of Thorncraft Publishing, Jerome Parchman, Rossview High School, and many more organizations and individuals in the community. The brochure was designed by Rossview High School’s Academy of Media Arts and Technology. Please, visit the website for a complete list of local leaders and sponsors who have been involved: https://africanamericanlegacies.com
You can use interactive versions of the brochure in the Online Legacy Trails located on the Montgomery County Website here: https://mcgtn.org:8443/County/it/aalmobile/index.html
Visit Clarksville here: https://www.visitclarksvilletn.com/listing/african-american-legacy-trail/453/
Brochures are free to the public and are located around Clarksville and Montgomery County. Some of those locations are the Wilbur N Daniel African American Cultural Center at Austin Peay State University, The Montgomery County Archives, Customs House Museum and Cultural Center, Burt Cobb Recreation Center, Clarksville Visitor Center, and HUDUBAM Bookstore.
To make a tax deductible donation to the Legacy Trail, visit the Mt. Olive Cemetery Historical Preservation Society website here: https://mtolivechps.weebly.com
Mail checks to:
Mt. Olive Cemetery Historical Preservation Society
PO BOX 352
CLARKSVILLE , TN 37041
In the FOR section of the check, include the words Legacy Trail, so that your donation goes directly to the Legacy Trail efforts.
Mt. Olive Cemetery Historical Preservation Society also welcomes new members.