Haywood County will celebrate Tina Turner and the heritage of the Flagg Grove School during the 1st Annual Tina Turner Heritage Days on September 27-28, 2013. All proceeds from the event will go towards the restoration of Flagg Grove School. You can also help the restoration by donating here.
Read more about this special weekend in the post.
Celebrating the heritage and legacy of Flagg Grove School along with its most famous student, Anna Mae Bullock, known worldwide as Tina Turner. Tina herself showed her interest in the project during Oprah’s Next Chapter interview. Her longtime assistant, friend and maid of honor at her wedding Rhonda Graam came last year to visit the place. Sonia Outlaw-Clark, West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center Director, told us a bit more about her visit:
“She had not been to this area, so it was fun to show here places she had read about in Tina’s book. We visited Nutbush, the Poindexter Farm, Flagg Grove School site, Edward’s Grove School, Woodlawn Baptist Church and Spring Hill. We also went to Ripley and found the old high school Tina attended for a short while, the house she lived in there, the Hole, and the home where she worked for the Henderson’s while living in Ripley. We also visited cemeteries in search of relatives graves and talked with former Flagg Grove students and folks who remembered Tina as a child. Rhonda is a great person. I can see why she and Tina have been friends for so long […] She took all this info back to Tina and shared that Tina was honored that we were sincerely trying to save a piece of hers and our heritage. We continue to stay in touch with Rhonda and have been thrilled that Tina has chosen to share some of her memorabilia with us and has talked about us to the press and now with Oprah.”
A bit of history about Flagg Grove School:
Benjamin Brown Flagg sold one acre of land in January 1889 to a group of Trustees charged with the task of building Flagg Grove School. Since that time until the late 1960s, Flagg Grove School served African-American students in the northwest portion of Haywood County, Tennessee, just west of Nutbush. First as a Subscription school (each student paid $1 per month), then as a part of the public school system. Many students attended and have left a mark on their communities and the world. Among Flagg Grove’s most famous students is Anna Mae Bullock, most know as Tina Turner – “Queen of Rock ‘n Roll.” When Flagg Grove School was closed in the late 1960s, it was used as a barn and corn crib until being moved to the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tennessee. The school made its journey to its new home on June 1, 2012. Since that time restoration efforts are being made to restore the structure and open the school as an interpretive center for early African-American education and to honor the heritage and legacy of its former students, including Tina Turner.
Tina would have attended the school in the mid-40s until about 1952 or 53, her sister Alline went to the same school. She also attended another Nutbush area school called Edward’s Grove for a short while. Flagg Grove was part of the public school system by the time Tina attended, but conditions were still hard and up to 8 classes would have been together in the one room. By all accounts it was a one-room school to begin with, but it looks like another room may have been added at some point during this time.
The school however is not THE ‘school house’ that Tina refers to in her song ‘Nutbush City Limits’. The school that Tina refers to in the song was the white school and it was located just a short distance from the gin and store. The white school was the location for the first Tina Turner Celebrations in Nutbush, but has since been torn down.
Tina’s interview from the African American Lives 2 series:
You can have a look at the activities scheduled on this special day, including concerts, Nutbush tour, fans gathering and much more here!
For more information about the annual celebration held the 4th weekend of September, contact:
West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center
121 Sunny Hill Cove
Brownsville, TN 38012
And again don’t forget to contribute to this wonderful project by donating here!