A love of history, genealogy and Blount County, Tennessee, is all it took for Alcoa native Shirley Carr Clowney to dig deep into the story of African-Americans in Blount County. She published a book in 2017 titled, “Our Place in Time: Blacks in Blount County.” Through research and crowdsourcing, Clowney was able to fill in the pieces that are missing when the stories of the area are told. 

The 133-page paperback book focuses on the contributions of blacks in areas like education, religion, government, sports, armed forces and arts to name a few. 

Since little black history has been preserved out of Blount County, Carr went to the community using forums and talks to archive old pictures and history. One of her favorite finds is the story of William Bennett Scott, Sr. Carr writes that Scott served as alderman in Maryville and later town mayor in 1869. He also published the first black newspaper in Tennessee, “The Colored Tennessean.”

“African-Americans are a small percentage of the population in Blount County, and some have made significant contributions —  locally, nationally, and internationally. However, very little history is preserved. Much research has been done to capture and preserve the life and times of African-Americans in Blount County — the well known as well as average citizens who live here,” says Clowney.

“This publication will be a legacy for future generations that is not available in our library nor classrooms. It is a good cross-section of the local citizens especially those who live in the Hall community.”

For information on how to purchase a copy of “Our Place in Time: Blacks in Blount County,” email Clowney at slowney1@gmail.com or call (865) 681-3426.