Chattanoogans know the story of Ed Johnson. But in 1906, while on trial, Johnson’s father asked a young, black attorney to serve as his son’s lawyer.
His name was Styles L. Hutchins.
Hutchins relocated from Georgia to Chattanooga in 1881 and opened his own law practice at the age of 29. He also served in the Tennessee state legislature and helped start and edit the first newspaper owned and operated solely by African-American men in Chattanooga — The Independent Age.
Long before Chattanooga was dubbed the City of Creators, Styles Hutchins was creating a lasting career path here for himself.
Earlier this year, Mayor Andy Berke held a focus group with the Black Student Alliance at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. During that meeting, students described a mix of outcomes for black students in their class – some felt disconnected from the amenities that Chattanooga has to offer. Others had the good fortune to be connected to a mentor that helped them decide where to put down roots. They all had ideas on how to strengthen Chattanooga’s ability to retain diverse talent.
The Office of Mayor Andy Berke, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and The Urban League of Greater Chattanooga are honoring Hutchins’ legacy by establishing a fellowship for African-Americans that will create a successful path for themselves and others to come.
“Young African-American talent should be able to thrive in Chattanooga,” Mayor Berke says. “We want to be one part of a larger support system that helps them find success and stability in our community.”
Potential candidates for the Styles L. Hutchins Diverse Talent Retention Fellowship are black undergraduate students in the second semester of their junior year, any semester of their senior year, or first-year graduate students who are in good standing with the UTC.
Candidates should also possess a specific passion for diversity, equity and inclusion and enjoy civic involvement. Fellows will receive $15 per hour for a 16-week period and up to $400 for travel and professional development reimbursement.
The selected college fellows will work with the Mayor’s Office, the Chamber and The Urban League to launch projects to identify and implement strategies to help attract, recruit and retain early-career black talent in Chattanooga.
“The Styles L. Hutchins Fellowship represents an opportunity to help build the foundation for Chattanooga becoming a city where economic opportunity and avenues of growth for people of color is evident throughout all aspects of the community,” says Warren Logan, president and CEO of The Urban League of Greater Chattanooga. “Successful applicants will be able to look back one day and say, ‘I helped to rebuild this city into an oasis of inclusion and diversity.’”
Applications for the fall 2019 cohort are now open. Apply at cha.city/styles.
Source: City of Chattanooga