Knoxville Police Department Integrated Since 1882
After the Civil War, the Knoxville Police Department made history. It hired the City's first African-American police officer in 1882 - and continued to recruit and hire black officers, even at a time when it was virtually unheard of to have minority representation in the uniformed ranks. Moses Smith was the first African-American police officer in Knoxville, says Civil Rights pioneer and historian Robert J. Booker. Smith served on the Knoxville police force for several years before being appointed as a federal marshal. Additionally, Smith served on the City's Board of Aldermen in 1874 and again in 1878.
Listen to Knoxville Police Chief Rausch Talk About Integration in KPD
First African-American Volunteer Fire Department Formed in 1868
In 1854, the first volunteer fire department in Knoxville formed with 100 volunteers. Fourteen years later, in 1868, William F. Yardley and William Luttrell formed a separate African-American volunteer fire department - and Yardley served as its first fire chief. However, while African-Americans have been protecting lives and property from fires in Knoxville for 149 years, they weren't paid and professionally trained by the City until the 1950s. And the City maintained segregated fire halls for another decade.
Listen to Knoxville Fire Chief Stan Sharp Talk About Integration in KFD
African-American Political Engagement in Knoxville Dates Back to Mid-1800s
Knoxville City Councilman Daniel Brown has always embraced service - as a U.S. Army soldier in Vietnam in 1970, as a 22-year public servant with the U.S. Postal Service, and as an East Knoxville community leader. But on Jan. 10, 2011, he made Knoxville history. This was the day that Daniel Brown became Knoxville’s first African-American mayor.
Listen to Knoxville's First African-American Mayor Daniel T. Brown
Cal Johnson, Knoxville’s First African-American Millionaire
A former Knoxville slave made rags-to-riches history in the early 1900s, becoming Knoxville’s first African-American millionaire. Caldonia “Cal” Fackler Johnson was born a slave on Oct. 14, 1844, in Knoxville’s Farragut Hotel. Both of Cal Johnson’s parents were born slaves, belonging to the McClung family at Campbell Station.
Listen to Historian & Civil Rights Activist Robert J. Booker Talk About Cal Johnson
Film Pays Tribute to Civil War Solders Interred in Odd Fellows Cemetery
Be sure and view this video, "The Cemetery of Life," by local filmmaker Siam J. Manuels with the Knoxville Re-Animation Coalition and others. The documentary tells the story of the Odd Fellows Cemetery in East Knoxville, the final resting place for 30 Civil War veterans who'd served in the 1st U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery unit.