Elston Turner stands on road named after him.

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — As Knoxville celebrates Black History Month, several young African Americans are making new history locally and on the national scene. Let the history books reflect the following:

Elston Turner Drive was formally unveiled as one of the new streets in the old Austin Homes area where the former NBA star grew up playing street ball. Say the name Elston in Knoxville and you will invoke stories of one of the greatest basketball teams to ever come out of Austin East High School. Born and raised in the inner city, Turner was a basketball natural. He played with the mighty A-E Roadrunners. Their 1977 championship team brought home the first ever AAA championship for the school and the first for the city since 1951. The team, led by Turner was so talented, the games had to be held at the civic coliseum. E.T. as he  was fondly called, went on to be chosen as All American and All SEC. Turner played professional ball for the NBA for over 20 years and has been a coach in the NBA for over two decades. Turner never forgot where he came from and has returned home for over 25 years to hold the Elston Turner Basketball Camp at his alma mater, Austin-East.

Melody Hawkins, National University Teacher of the Year

Another Austin East standout is Melody Hawkins, administrator. Ms. Hawkins won National university’s National Teacher of the Year award and along with a full ride for her doctoral degree, received a check for 50,000 dollars. Ms. Hawkins was recognized for her ability to inspire students. During her years as an eighth grade teacher, her students won a competition to send research into outer space with NASA.

Matthew Best Executive Director Change Center

Taking over the reins of the Change Center as it reopens after the pandemic is Matthew Best who becomes its new Executive Director. The Change Center which opened its doors in 2016 provides a safe haven for kids to hang out in the inner city. Best also serves as the youth pastor of Children of God Church of God in Christ,

Rounding out an historical month is the selection of two African American women to serve as Deans of two the the five campuses of Pellissippi State Community College. Dean Stella Bridgeman is the new Dean at the Magnolia Campus and Dean Priscilla Duenkel takes the helm at the Blount County Campus.