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Maryville

Sunday morning, September 4, 2005, I arrived in Maryville, Tennessee at approximately 7:15am, at which time I promptly set up a vigil in the traffic island on the corner of Lamar Alexander Parkway and Broadway Street; the exact same location provided for me by the Maryville police earlier in the week.

I remained there, and I must interject in a somewhat carnival type atmosphere as the people expressed their pleasure in seeing me in my uniform and the Christian Cross of Saint Andrew flying briskly, until approximately 10:50am, at which time I began to make my way to church. I must truthfully say that by this time I had abandonded the original plan to attend either ST.Paul or St.Johns; the traditional Black churches; for as I had sat there all morning looking at New Providence Presbyterian Church reminiscing on the events that had transpired earlier in the week, when their Associate pastor not only spoke to me in a tone and language unbecoming a man of his station, but had also communicated a threat to physically remove me from the public easement that abutted the church property. I surely had to attend their church service.

As if by some divine providence, as I drove my van out of the parking lot, sitting right in front of me was Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. I agonized for what seemed an eternity on whether to head to New Providence or St.Paul. I wanted so much to go and look and look the congregation of New Providence in the eye so that I might know what kind of place would employ a man of the cloth who had spoken to me in such a vulgar way. As I wave at some of the parishioners of ST.Paul, I decided on the latter and reluctantly made my way across the street to ST.Paul, where I was received with great honor by the Pastor Rev. Wila Estell and congregation, and asked to please come again to visit with them.

I found it ironic that the Black congregation in Maryville would open their arms to me on this morning as they watched intently as I sat waving my flag, and would wave to me as they would drive by again, for I had returned to my spot on the island after church, only a stones throw away; and all the white minister had for me was vulgarities and threats of violence.

It is important to note that I had lunch with Brian and Lisa Thomas and son Cameron shortly before I was to leave Maryville. This is important because they would tell me the same story that many people who visited with me : the Knoxville Centinel had delivered newspapers to almost every citizen on August 8, 2005 in Maryville, even those who had no subscritpion to it. On this particular Sunday the paper carried a story that would slander Mr.Kirk D.Lyons and myself, one that we would influence the school board to make an unfavorable decision against the flag in Maryville and certainlly tarnish my image with the black citizens there as we worked so hard to effectuate a step to peace.

I would also be visited by the only school board member to vote against banning the flag. He would speak so reverently about the wrong of tamperring with the 1st admendent rights violated by this ban and how it would open the door to more injustices.

HK