By Vivian Shipe
KNOXVILLE, TN — Knoxville overflowed with activities in celebration of August 8th, the date of celebration for Tennesseans freed from slavery. There were gospel programs, galas, the refreshing of the Black Lives Matter Mural, shoes
for school drive with over 1500 pairs of brand new shoes given away, stadium prayers , and the celebration of the unveiling of the Austin East Magnet High School Communications Center.
Between the evening and morning of the 8th there was also a sad gut-wrenching low as yet another A-E student lost their life to gunfire in the early morning hours after an event held across town.
Details about the shooting are still under investigation. In response to the shooting the faith community rallied around the school with prayer and the students and the grieving families were lifted up and prayed for during the rest of the events for August 8th that continued well into Sunday evening.
During the sign unveiling, the greatness that has flowed out of Austin-East during the last year despite the pandemic and the loss of five lives due to senseless gunfire, was recognized.
During the program the picture of the soccer team who won the state championship, a picture of Ariya Rice who won first place in the state championships in the 400 meter dash, and the Seagrave brothers who placed first in a national drama competition kept flashing across the screen of the 19 foot tall electronic message center given to the school from individuals, banks, and other organizations who raised over 70,000 dollars to make the ask presented to the Alumni Association a little over two years ago, a reality.
The school song mentions Austin East as a beacon light…the communication center stands in the heart of the community, proclaiming no matter what comes against them, they are AE Strong and will endure.