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602 S. Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
Tribe One has played an important role in our community for many years and we, like others, mourn its passing. [“Lost Tribe,” Citybeat by Mike Gibson, March 28, 2013] Perhaps more than others, we also own an intimate knowledge of the organization and the financial burden that Mickeeya Harrison inherited when she was chosen to be the executive director.
For a number of years we both served as consultants for Tribe One including the last years of Chris Woodhull’s tenure. The image of the sinking Titanic came to both our minds when one spring day last year, Mickeeya joyfully told us she had been selected as the new executive director of the organization.
On the one hand, we were hopeful. Mickeeya represents what Tribe One has needed for a long time. She, like Danny Mayfield, is a bright, young, educated African American leader. Mickeeya, more than most, can identify with and support the youth of East Knoxville. She intimately understands the issues facing the youth served by Tribe One because she could have been one of the young faces in the program. She knows the stories of the youth, and she has spent her young adult life preparing herself to be a change agent for the coming generations.
We admire Mickeeya. Faced with obstacles that could have defeated her and would have defeated many, Mickeeya has viewed her life experiences as a window into the lives of others in a community she chooses to serve. She has consciously developed skills and sought education that would prepare her to serve inner-city youth. Following her undergraduate degree she completed a master’s in social work at UT, all the while taking advantage of informal community organizing and education opportunities. Not to mention, she is a single mother of two wonderful children. Yes, we admire Mickeeya.
If anyone could have steered Tribe One in the right direction, we knew it was Mickeeya. Unfortunately, the ship was going down. Nothing short of a miracle would have saved Tribe One. We are writing because the article about Tribe One in the March 28, 2013 Metro Pulse implies that somehow Mickeeya might have had some responsibility for the demise of Tribe One. We agree with Cozmo Holloway who is quoted in the article, ”It was a hard situation to come into: there was still debt remaining to pay off. There were still tough times. Everyone involved fought as hard as they could to keep it going.” We want the community to know about Mickeeya’s dedication to Tribe One. She was not paid the last months of her employment. She was unable to fix her car, give Christmas to her children, or pay her rent or utilities. Only when some of us who care deeply for her, said it was time to give up this ship, did she finally leave.
What has happened to Tribe One is unfortunate for our city, but looking toward the future it is important that as a community we give implicit support to emerging young leaders like Mickeeya Harrison. She and others like her are developing the road map for the positive future for inner-city youth. We are certain that she will find her “Tribe One” and it will make a difference.
Mary Thom Adams