James R. Mapp

James R. Mapp


Book Synopsis:

Author James R. Mapp tells the story of "Chance or Circumstance?: A Memoir and Journey through the Struggle for Civil Rights" from an insider's perspective, giving an account of people, places and events in Chattanooga, Tennessee, during the 1960s civil rights era. He reveals significant events that influenced the fight for equality in education, housing and employment. Though the setting is a mid-size southern city, the book reflects the era on both the local and national levels. The purpose of the "Chance or Circumstance?" is to provide a written record so that people understand the reality and significance of the civil rights movement. Mapp is particularly passionate that future generations of students have an appreciation of how the past relates to their lives. The book is unique in that it gives insight into the personal life of the author and his family as they persevere under segregation as well as provides rich historical facts of the time. It chronicles relationships, both personal and public that had a major effect on his life's journey. "Chance or Circumstance?" tells what motivated Mapp and others to endure hardships, sacrifice incomes, and even risk their lives to right the wrongs of segregation and inequality. The book shows how ordinary citizens made a difference as they paved the way for equal rights in public accommodations, jobs and education. "Chance or Circumstance?" can be purchased through the publisher, iUniverse, Amazon or Barnes and Noble in hardback, paperback and e-book formats.

About The Author:

James R. Mapp attended public schools in Chattanooga, TN. He graduated from Howard High School as Class President and Valedictorian. Mr. Mapp attended A&I State College (Tennessee State University) in Nashville, Tennessee. He was a business major and was elected vice president of the freshman class.

Mr. Mapp was married to the late Viola Martin Mapp for 46 years to which union was born eight children. Most recently he was married for 19 years to Bettye Jean McCoy Mapp with one step son.

A member of Orchard Knob Baptist Church since 1940, Mr. Mapp served as an usher, member and president of the Sanctuary Choir, male Chorus, Sunday School Teacher and Superintendent, Teacher and Director of the Training Union, Trustee Chairman and member of the Corporate Board. He also served as a member of the Housing Development Board for the Church.

Professionally Mr. Mapp was an insurance agent, Assistant Manager, and Manager of two major insurance companies. He worked in the Model Cities Program as Housing Planner and was instrumental in getting an Open Housing Ordinance passed. The James R. Mapp General Insurance Agency was established in 1965 followed by MAPP & Associates Realty in 1990. He was the first Black to serve on the Chattanooga Association of Realtors Board.

A member of the Boy Scouts for more than 60 years, Mr. Mapp rose to the rank of Eagle Scout. In addition to being a Cub Master and Scout Master, he served on the Board of the Dynamo Division and later on the Board of the Cherokee Area Council of Scouting.

A Lifetime Member of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) since 1941, Mr. Mapp served as Youth President of the Coordinated Youth Councils of Chattanooga from 1945-47. He was Branch secretary from 1953 until 1959 when he was elected Branch president - serving broken tenures for 27 years. He also served as President of the State Conference of Branches for 2-1/2 years and Chaired the Region for 2 years.

Mr. Mapp’s service to the PTA (Parent Teachers Association) spanned 35 years starting in 1954. An honorary life member, he served in many positions including Unit President and Council Member. He authored a resolution presented to the U.S. Congress by the National PTA regarding daylight savings time and child safety.

Involved in civic affairs and politics all of his adult life, Mr. Mapp has received numerous awards. He served on the Mayor’s Bi-Racial Committee (1960-65), the Tennessee Court Modernization Committee (1976-78), a Special Tenn-Tom Bigbee Commission, and the TVA Advisory Committee. He was a founding member of the Tennessee Voters Council and the Unity Group. Mr. Mapp ran for several County posts including the County Council, County Register, County Trustee and County Commission.

Memberships – As a Life Member of the NAACP, Mr. Mapp was a subscribing Golden Heritage Member. He was a PTA Life Member and member of AARP as well as 33rd Degree Mason and Shrine.

Mr. Mapp was most notably known as a plaintiff in the lawsuit - James Jonathan Mapp et al vs. Chattanooga Board of Education - to desegregate public schools in Chattanooga. This suit remained active for 26 years and was said to be the longest running active desegregation suit in the country. As an activist, Mr. Mapp played a major role in Chattanooga to desegregate and provide equal opportunity for African Americans in jobs, education, housing, banking and other areas.

Mr. Mapp’s book “Chance or Circumstance: A Memoir and Journey Through the Struggle for Civil Rights” was published in April 2016. Eight years in the writing, Mr. Mapp did not live to see the final product as he passed from this life on June 19, 2015 at 87 years of age.