RaSharon King inspired by efforts of MLK
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Feb 18, 2014 | 910 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RaSharon King
RaSharon King
A fascination with Martin Luther King Jr. and encouragement from educators in her life inspired RaSharon King to set high goals and help others.

“As a young person I was always fascinated with Dr. [Martin Luther] King, and I wanted to leave an impact like he did,” King said.

Today, she is first vice president of the NAACP of Bradley County, an organizer for Gospel Explosion and president of Sigma Gamma Rho’s Chattanooga chapter.

“Most of the things I do are youth related, because that is where I feel you can make a difference. That is where my life changed because I was going down a path of trouble. ... But it was people who saw something in me who helped change me around,” King said

A guidance counselor Alma Dotson took her and a group from Cleveland High School to the King Center, located at Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.

“She let us know that there were things outside of Cleveland,” King said.

King lived in Cleveland until she graduated from CHS in 1987.

“After graduation I went to UT (Knoxville), majored in forestry and wound up getting a job with TVA. That is how I wound up coming back to the area,” King said.

During college, she saw how others were making a difference in the U.S. Forest Service.

“When I majored in forestry, I got into the program because they were seeking minorities to major in forestry. Dr. [Kerry] Schell … he took us to all kinds of conferences and let us know that there are minorities who are doing big things in the Forest Service. And a lot of us were not outdoorsy. Still to this day I have a degree in forestry and I’m still not outdoorsy, but it let me see beyond this community,” King said.

While completing her degree in forestry, King developed higher ambitions than simply working for the Forest Service. She wanted to be in leadership. So she went on to receive a master’s in public administration.

King said “she cannot stop at a master’s” degree and has begun looking at doctorate degrees in public administration.

“It’s ironic, my maiden name is Moore, but my married name is King; I’m divorced now, but it’s ironic that I have the name now,” King said.

She said she finds it interesting that if her last name doesn’t change before she earns a doctorate, she could be called Dr. King.

Her first TVA position was with an office in Athens.

“When I got my job at TVA, I was a part of affirmative action. I know I was. They needed someone who could do my job that had color,” King said.

Later she was transferred to Alabama for a year and a half, before moving to the Chattanooga office.

King said she enjoys helping and meeting with customers through her job at TVA.

“But Cleveland is home. Cleveland is always home. That is where I do the majority of my community work.”

When King moved back to Chattanooga, the Bradley County NAACP was not active.

“I worked with the president of the Hamilton County NAACP and he was looking for someone to get it started back here in Cleveland,” she said.

She was instrumental in helping the president connect with Lawrence Armstrong.

“Of course, when you pull somebody in they are going to pull you right along with them, so when Lawrence became active [in the NAACP], I became active as well,” King said. “I started out as secretary.”

Right now the NAACP is working on voter registration drives and helping people be informed about the candidates.

King said she likes being able to help people through her work with the organization. She said much of what the NAACP does to help people is not well known, because of its confidential nature.

“If you come to us and you have a problem, we will help you. It’s up to you to tell your story. We don’t tell your story,” King said.

She said they have worked with people who have been treated unfairly at work or school because of their skin color.

As part of her work with area youth, King is a coordinator for the annual Gospel Explosion at Mosby Park.

King said the event was started as a way to bring change to the community.

“I believe if you can bring change to a community, you can change a person. That is why I love working with youth, because you can see the change as they become adults,” she said.

She has also mentored many in the area.

“A lot of kids have grown up under me. Now those youth who I used to advise are now youth leaders at the church,’ King said

She served as youth director at St. James Cumberland Presbyterian, where she has attended most of her life.

King is also the president of Sigma Gamma Rho’s Chattanooga chapter. She said the group does community service and encourages young people to make right choices.

She also owns her own photography business. She enjoys spending time with her family in Cleveland, including her parents and sister.

Fitness is also one of her goals.

“Last year I ran my first half marathon, so I’m excited about that. I am training to run it again,” King said.

Her son has followed in her footsteps and is now a junior at the University of Tennessee.