WDKN honors the commitment to freedom that those before us have made inorder to improve the quality of life in America. Please join us in recoginzing the extrodinairy individuals that contributed to the freedom that we know today.
Dickson County has long produced men and women of quality who excel in life with a strong work ethic, service, and dedication. One African American citizen of Dickson County, Mr. Horace Reddon, spent a lifetime of quality living serving his country and community. Born in 1928 in an era where African Americans were often treated as second class citizens, Horace found his calling at an early age, and through his dedication spent 27 years in the U.S. Army attaining the rank of Chief Warrant Officer. Returning to Dickson County upon retirement he continued in service to his community, including 10 years spent on the city Planning Board, 14 years of service as Dickson County Grand Jury Foreman, appointments to political organizations, serving as a Deacon at New Hope Baptist Church, and fifty plus years of marriage to his wife Peggy. Dickson County has been enriched by the example Horace Reddon set for how to live an exceptional life.
Over the past half century of living, Dickson Resident Reed Evans has seen a lot of changes in his community. Those changes often occurred even when obstacles stood in the way. Mr. Evans remembers the sit-ins at the local café, the insults and slurs, the lack of opportunities, and even faced down the KKK a time or two. These challenges helped shape Mr. Evans to be a man of discipline and dedication. That attitude aided him in facing challenges during his 42 year involvement in Dickson County Education. In 1974, Reed Evans became the first African American Principal of an integrated school in Dickson. For the next 24 years, Dickson Jr High students were taught discipline, starting every morning when Mr. Evans greeted them at the door. Whether coaching, teaching, or finally serving as Principal, all students knew what Mr. Evans expected. Even after retiring in 1998, Reed continues to support the students at local sporting events and tries to instill the life lessons he learned. As Mr. Evans has always said, “If you are going to do something right, you better have discipline.”
In the history of Civil Rights, Jim Crow laws were a means of oppression that denied African Americans equal opportunities in education and in life. The Reddon Family of Dickson County, despite the lack of equality and opportunity, answered the call and served in every major military
mangagement of the 20th century. Beginning with John Nesbitt who served in WW1, the Reddon family began a heritage of service including Homer Reddon who served in the Pacific Theater in WW II, George Reddon who served as a medical officer in Vietnam, and longtime Dickson Resident Horace Reddon who dedicated 27 years of service to his country in the U.S. Army. In the face of adversity and discrimination, the Reddon family served their country, trusting that one day it would aspire to its creed, that all men are created equal. The Reddon family has left a legacy of service and dedication that all Dickson County citizens can be proud of and aspire to.
During the 1850s, one of the most profitable businesses was collecting bounties for escaped slaves. Most confounding to the bounty hunters of the day was an escaped slave who returned to the South some 13 times and led hundreds of slaves to freedom using a secret network called the Underground Railroad. Though it was believed this was the work of a criminal mastermind, the slave hunters would have been shocked to learn 5 foot tall former slave Harriet Tubman was the culprit who rescued these slaves from bondage and led them to their freedom.
Since the early days of the United States military, African Americans have achieved success in the face of adversity and limited opportunities. During WW II, a group of pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen served with great distinction and were credited as some of the best pilots to serve in the whole war. When called upon to serve in Italy in 1943, the Airmen proved their worth as a main component in an offensive known as Operation Torch. The Airmen achieved their success despite a segregated military and the overwhelming doubt of their white counterparts. They were good enough to die for their country and yet back home and they had to sit in a segregated theater on their own base. The Tuskegee Airmen continue to inspire and prod each generation to be better than the last and to think of what can be achieved today without the barriers they faced.
Frederick Douglass was known as one of the great orators of his day. He was an anti-slavery advocate, championed women’s suffrage, held several political positions in his life, and even served as the advisor for multiple presidents. Perhaps more impressive than his achievements was Frederick Douglass rise from the chains of slavery into one of the leading intellectuals of the 19th century. After escaping slavery in his teenage years, through self-education Frederick Douglass rose up to one day be welcomed as an honored guest of Abraham Lincoln in the Whitehouse.
It is often true in life that big things come from small beginnings. On a December afternoon in 1955, a department store worker named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus to accommodate white passengers. For refusing to give in to unequal treatment, Rosa Parks was arrested. What followed was a city wide boycott of the public transportation that eventually forced a change in city laws. From something as simple as a seat on a bus, Rosa Parks demonstrated courage in the face of adversity that continues to be an example of what it means to choose personal liberty of inequality.
Many of the great advances in medical science have occurred in the field of cardiology. One of the most famous achievements was the first open heart surgery performed by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams of Chicago. A patient entered the hospital with a stab wound close to the heart. Dr. Williams operation resulted in the full recovery of the patient. Surprising to the present audience is the fact that this surgery took place 120 years ago in 1893 without most of the conveniences of modern medicine. Dr. Williams was inspired to enter medical school by a woman who had been barred from nursing school b/c of her race. Dr. Daniel Williams went on to found the 1st black owned hospital in the United States.