Who We Are
History of the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Unity Group:
The Unity Group was first organized in the fall of 1969. The purpose of the Unity Group was to select Black candidates and help elect them to position within the local government.
The first position targeted was the Commissioner of Health and Education on the Chattanooga City Commission. A list of 4 candidates, who were Mr. George (Cubby) James, Mr. William Days, Mr. Ervin Overton, and Johnny Franklin. The Group decided on Mr. Johnny Franklin as having the best chance of winning the seat on the City Commission. Mr. Franklin won that seat and became the first Black Elected to a position on the Chattanooga City Commission.
In 1970 the Unity Group initiated the march, in Chattanooga, to make Dr. Martin L. King Birthday a national holiday. The march soon became what is now known as the Dr. Martin L. King Celebration Event. This event now consists of workshops, prayer breakfast, mid-week cross culture worship services, a march, etc. Also, the Unity Group was the driving force behind the renaming of 9th Street to M. L. King Blvd.
The Unity Group was very active in changing the Hamilton County Council to the now Hamilton County Commission. The Group provided the frame work for the 9th district seat and help elect two Black to the Hamilton County Commission Seat. They were Rev. Paul A. McDaniel and Atty. Reuben Taylor. Rev. McDaniel was forced to challenge his seat all the way to the Supreme Court before being allowed to take his seat on the County Commission.
Another first for the Unity Group was the reshaping of the Tennessee State Legislative 28th District and the election of C. B. Robinson to the General Assembly.
The Rev. Leroy T. Griffith shares some interesting information on the beginning of the Unity Group's sponsorship of the Dr. Marlin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration. He tells the story of how the Unity Group became involved in a celebration of the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. Although this celebration was not in the original mission of the group and was far from the principle reason that the Unity Group was organized, it has become the major event that is sponsored by the Unity Group.