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FEATURE ARTICLE / January 2022

Photo credit: Vivian Shipe

Centenarians Celebrated: "We're Still Here"

By Vivian Shipe, AHERN Reporter / January 2022

Clara Hughes age 101 soon to be 102, was the grand marshal of the Oliver Springs Christmas parade 2021. She loves to dance and was an avid jitter bugger in her day. She still attends bible study and choir practice every week and helps others in need.

Oliver Springs, TN- What must it be like to live through not one, but two pandemics,  34 wars around the world, segregation, winning the right to vote, and the turmoil of it all?

How does it feel to know what life was like before computers, cell phones, and all the other conveniences we all take for granted?

For a full week, volunteers from several organizations sat at the feet of elders in Knoxville and listened to the stories of the lived experiences of men and women who have walked through many of the lessons in the history books of America.

Their stories were gathered during a time of gifting from the Knoxville community to the shoulders on which we stand. For months, items were gathered to be given to the elders during the week leading up to Christmas.

Heavy bags overflowing with staple items, candies, shawls, lap blankets, and favorite items from their era were delivered to the homes, veteran centers, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities of elders aged 89 to 103. 

Children from area churches crafted handmade cards to be placed in every bag. One child’s little handmade message simply read, “Being 100 is a superpower!”

For a full week, 31 elders, the majority of whom were over 100- years old, were visited and presented their senior gift baskets. If there was something special they wanted, it was included in the baskets and there were no two alike. 

Those who delivered them did not just drop off the baskets and run, they pulled up a chair, sat down, and listened.

The stories from the elders were captured via video and by scribes who listened, fascinated by the words flowing into their hearts and ears. 

Meet the elders, from Knoxville and five surrounding counties, this week and next as they share tidbits of a life well-lived. 

As one elder said, “Like the old Williams Brothers’ song says, We’re STILL Here.”


AHERN, Incorporated operates as an African American communication ministry that highlights the achievements and news of African Americans in East Tennessee, Southeast Virginia, and the nation.

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