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Trip to Greeneville museum puts youth in touch with area's role in history

March 15th, 2014 7:43 pm by Calvin Sneed

Trip to Greeneville museum puts youth in touch with area's role in history

New Vision Youth members look at exhibits at the Nathanael Greene Museum in Greeneville. Photo by Calvin Sneed.

Every two years, Johnnie Mae Swagerty brings a busload of the New Vision Youth to the Nathanael Greene Museum in Greeneville to educate them on African-American history they might not know about.

While in the process, the youth also learn about the role Greene County played in the history of East Tennessee, Tennessee, and through Greene County native and President Andrew Johnson, the United States as well.

"It gives the kids encouragement to know where they're from," Swagerty says. "Through the exhibits, they get to feel the dignity and pride that people struggled to achieve over the years. This really gives them an education and spurs their thoughts about being somebody."

Greene County was one of the counties where there were a lot of free African-Americans prior to the Civil War, museum office manager Barbara Lawrence said.

"We are proud of that. Greene County was mostly Union during the war, not like a lot of the rest of the state," Lawrence said.

Many historical items from churches and Greene County's former African-American school, George Clem High School, are also on display.

The Nathanael Greene Museum has been around slightly more than 30 years, and in that time, has quickly become a repository for artifacts and collectibles that are native to the area and to time periods in Greene County.

For an expanded version of this article, please see Sunday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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