Early Life

Sandra Marie Hagler was born with her twin sister, Andrea (Hagler) Goins, on May 21, 1948, in Bristol, Tennessee. When the Watauga Dam was finished at the end of that year, her father, Robert Hagler, Jr., moved the family back to Junaluska, where they lived in a small house called “The Corner,” on the intersection of North St. and N. Depot St. Growing up in Junaluska, Sandy enjoyed the warm, welcoming environment in the community and at the all-Black Watauga Consolidated School, saying that “we were so loved and so isolated and protected.” However, this environment changed when she went to Watauga High School and was part of the first integrated classes there in 1965, and she fully experienced racism for the first time. Recalling her experience with integration, Sandy said, “I don’t see any bit of good that came from integration,” and many black students, including herself, were forced to drop out.