Response to the article in the Rogersville Review titled: “Social media misinformation over ‘prayer and dialogue’ gathering leads to counter protest”.

I was appalled and could not believe the place that I spent the formative part of my life is now became a fortress and haven of inexcusable behavior. There has always been discrimination and oppression, but it was never a haven of out of control behavior trying to intimidate United States citizens. You could always be welcomed by “Southern Hospitality” regardless of your culture or skin color. But, now a group of mostly 65- to 80-year-old white women and a historical African American church cannot come together for dialog and prayer without a group of misinformed people causing an embarrassment to the entire community.

Romans 13:10 says, “Love does no harm to its neighbor.” Really, why is there suppression and oppression of African Americans and Caucasians praying together? It is unbelievable that people are walking around with assault weapons and side-arms in Rogersville which is part of the United States as if we are in another civil war. I have travelled the world and the only place that I see people walking around brandishing assault weapons was in Honduras. By the way, Honduras is a third-world country with oppressed poor people.

The entire fiasco happened because of rumors that Black Lives Matter was coming to Rogersville. I am surprised that anyone would flatter themselves with such an idea. I would encourage those people to walk around downtown Rogersville to see how many minorities are in Rogersville or Hawkins County period. But now there will probably be a reaction to the fiasco that will have people showing up that are not residence and do not have Hawkins County’s best interest at heart. This incident should be a horrifying embarrassment to the Hawkins County community.

As for protecting the Veterans. I am a decorated Army Officer of Operations Desert Storm and Shield. I can speak with confidence that the hate that I saw in the pictures does not and cannot speak for the United States Armed Forces or me. I suggest that 95% of them have not served in any capacity to help people in the United States. Additionally, they said that they are protecting Police. My brother is an honorable retired California Highway Patrolman with distinguish service to the State and this country. I know that group does not represent anything that he believes. Additionally, we both are ministers in God’s kingdom helping people regardless to the skin color because we are led by Jesus Christ. That is the type people that was in Rogersville between 1962 to 1980 ,or they hid the other side very effectively.

As for as heritage. A definition of heritage is something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor. Could that be the reason for the miseducation of the historical perspective of the people? Cornell University said that “anyone who owes allegiance to America and wages war against America is treasonous.” That has not been taught in history in the South. It has never been about heritage but oppression.

The history on monuments will not lose its historical purpose in museums and books like all other history in the United States. But it is not about the monuments but oppression. “A spike in the number of monuments occurred during two distinct periods. The first coincided with the enactment of Jim Crow laws in 1877 and lasted through the end of World War II, with most situated on courthouses and government land. The second period began in the mid-1950s and lasted through the late 1960s. But two landmark events transpired concurrently: Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Apologists claim such were erected on school grounds to help educate children, but the fact that so many immediately followed the Brown decision invalidates such a claim.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., quoted, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” These words have great depth which are interwoven holistically into all people regardless of their color.

I usually do not waste my time with ignorant ideology. But, such hate in Rogersville cut me to the core. The place that I knew had an everlasting impact on my life.

I am finished but I am trying to understand how people in Hawkins County elected a mayor that brings toxic racial hate to a sanctuary. I do not know the person but just reading the information in the papers does not display a person that brings equity to all people. I hope that he is not defining the new Hawkins County.

To all the white people that have spent their formative years in Rogersville and been raised by God-fearing loving parents, which are many, you can no longer sit silent on the sidelines and allow haters to become a norm in a town that used to be “Southern Hospitality” to everyone. Are you going to allow the town to be embarrassed by people who have never attempted to look through the lens of other people to understand another perspective?

My solace in all this confusion is Jesus Christ. The Bible is clear in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

The hate will stop, or heaven will not be home to many people.

Again, silence is agreement!

Rev. Dr. Roy L. Dennis, Jr.