Diversity remains key to thriving Clarksville community

Clarksville - The Good, The Bad, The Future

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) —Clarksville is one of the fastest-growing cities outside of Nashville in Middle Tennessee and with that comes an ever-growing diversity.

Seven thousand miles from her birthplace in Seoul, Terry Jalinsky prepares traditional Korean barbecue in a city she now calls home.

“When I go home to South Korea, I just miss here,” said Jalinsky. “Clarksville is my home.”

Jalinsky’s journey to the Middle Tennessee town began in 1998. Her husband John, then in the U.S. Army in Yongsan, South Korea.

“I started dating with him,” said Jalinsky. “He was so sweet and we just fell in love.”

Two years later, the two married and moved to Fort Campbell in Clarksville.

“I had a culture shock big time,” said Jalinsky. “This is my second life and this is my home now.”

Their story is among the many rooted at the U.S. military post that have transcended into the city’s diversity.

According to the latest U.S. Census numbers, Clarksville’s minority population is 2.3-percent Asian, 11.3-percent Hispanic or Latino, and 23.4-percent African American.

“Diversity is the norm here and that’s good,” said Pastor Frank Washington of New Way Community Church of God in Christ.

Washington came to Clarksville in 1977 when he first served in the 101st Airborne Division.

“Clarksville is a great place to live – you got great job opportunities, you’ve got a crime rate that’s not really really that bad,” said Washington.

His decision to stay, he said is number one space, number two a community that understands what it’s like to survive the conflict of war.

“It didn’t matter, race didn’t matter, as long as I got somebody to help me get through this,” said Washington. “Well you go and apply that to regular life. We are all the same.”

But there was a darker time for race relations in Clarksville.

A turning point, in 1963 after the Olympic Games, a focal point of that was the Shoney’s off of Providence Boulevard.

“When Wilma Rudolph came back from Rome after winning the Olympics, she still wasn’t allowed to eat in the Shoney’s that’s right down the street down there,” said Washington. “So we had to march to get the chance to be admitted at Shoney’s.”

Fifty-six years later, Washington said race relations has come a long way.

But with more that still can be done, he serves as the president of the Clarksville Community Black History Council.

“To learn the history and share our history,” he said. “The common ethnicity, the African American story, along with everybody else.”

For first lady of Clarksville Cynthia Pitts, that means building a close relationship with the community.

“I think a lot of times the dividing line is up because they think nobody cares about our community, but we do,” said Pitts.

Pitts and Jalinsky have formed a close bond after launching the first Women of Clarksville Forum in 2018.

The goal is to help connect women of different backgrounds.

“They are my sisters and friends – we have all become a family here,” said Jalinsky. “And that’s the kind of leadership we have in the city and the county right now.”

News 2 is digging deeper into the growth of Clarksville and the impact it has on communities in Middle Tennessee. We explore “Clarksville: The Good, The Bad, The Future” all day Thursday in every newscast. Click here for more.

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