Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, left, and Phyllis Nichols, CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League at the Equal Opportunity Awards Gala at the Knoxville Convention Center.
Right up there with the Knoxville Opera as a nonprofit that really knows how to throw a party, you’d have to put the Knoxville Area Urban League. And, like the Knoxville Opera, the Urban League stays true to its mission at its major fundraiser, ensuring that the evening truly is “a party with a purpose.”
Yes, there’s a reception and good food and excellent music. But there is also some important business at the Urban League’s Equal Opportunity Awards Gala. This year, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero received the Corporate Leadership Award for her efforts in promoting equality. And longtime civil rights activists Gordon and Judy Gibson received the Whitney M. Young Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award for their body of work in the movement. Gordon Gibson, at the time a newly ordained 25-year-old Unitarian minister, was arrested during the historic march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 — and he and his wife have been working for the cause ever since.
In addition, Sanford Smith received the Volunteer of the Year Award for his work with the Urban League and Jarnigan & Son Mortuary and proprietor Beal Bourne were honored with the Minority Business of the Year Award.
The legendary soul band Tower of Power had the dance floor full most of the evening.
Al Pirie, chair of the Knoxville Area Urban League board of directors, and board member Gwen McKenzie at the reception which opened the event.
From left, Susan Morris, Mary Fran Darwin and Urban League board member Rosa Mar.
From left, Urban League board member Gwen Brown, Peter Acly, Ellen Robinson and state Sen. Becky Massey.
Mark and Cathy Hill, left, with Phyllis and Jim Nichols.
At some events at the Knoxville Convention Center, guests are summoned to dinner with the sound of chimes. I always assumed they were recorded. They aren’t! Here’s the Convention Center’s Jason Bourgoyne doing the honors.
Instead of a salad course, diners were welcomed to their tables with individual hors d’oeuvres plates. At left, hummus on fried pita chips with roasted red pepper and parsley. At right, Boursin cheese pirouette in Belgian endive. Tasty.
Board members Jan Brown, left, and Gwen Brown backstage waiting for their cues to help introduce the winners.
Gordon and Judy Gibson accept their lifetime achievement award as Gwen McKenzie looks on.
Former Knoxville Mayor and current City Council member Dan Brown and his wife, Cathy, were at one of the Moxley Carmichael tables.
Newly elected Knox County Commissioner Evelyn Gill and her husband, Michael, were at another Moxley Carmichael table.
County Commissioner Bob Thomas and his wife, Kim.
Alan Carmichael with Emily Campen. She’s married to City Councilman Mark Campen and is the proprietor of The Flower Pot, one of our favorite florists. They have great customer service.
Moxley Carmichael’s Scott Bird, left, with Michael Higdon.
Tank and Terry Strickland. (He’s hoping to get rid of that oxygen pretty soon, he says. We’re just glad it doesn’t keep him from his fun-loving ways! He loves this party.)
Stephanie and City Councilman George Wallace.
Marsha and City Councilman Duane Grieve.
Natalie and City Councilman Marshall Stair.
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, standing, with his wife, Kelly, were seated with Rev. Harold Middlebrook and his wife, Betty.
Moxley Carmichael’s Lauren Miller and hubby, John.
Geraldine and Joe Gallman.
Gwen and former County Commissioner Sam McKenzie.
Moxley Carmichael’s creative director, Charley Sexton, and his wife, Linnie.
Daryl Johnson of Johnson Architecture, a great Moxley Carmichael client, and Polly Fisher.
Edwina Harvey and her son, Brian.
Urban League Board Chair Al Pirie and his wife, Lisa.
Tammy White, president and CEO of Leadership Knoxville, left, with Cindy Hassil, development director of Ijams Nature Center.
A word about the food. It was delicious. The roasted chicken breast, glazed with wildflower honey and whole grain mustard, was served over rice with a warm green apple and caramelized onion relish.
Salted caramel vanilla crunch cake!
This one was called Irish Cream Bash!
Pretty soon, it was time for the big sound of Tower of Power!
Lead vocalist Marcus Scott was appealing in the way he interacted with the crowd.
Folks were ready to dance.
Rebecca and Alan Williams. He is with WVLT-TV and was the evening’s emcee before he hit the dance floor. She’s with the Knoxville Convention Center (another great Moxley Carmichael client!).
Also on the dance floor: Interim Knox County Schools Superintendent Buzz Thomas and his wife, Lisa.
Even those not on the dance floor were getting frisky! Here are Patrick and Tiffany Powell.
Mickey Mallonee and Scott Bird.
Phyllis and Jim Nichols.
Tasha Blakney and hubs Michael Rogers.
Amy and Chris Stokes. He’s with another great Moxley Carmichael client, U.S. Cellular.
Linnie and Charley Sexton, right, visiting with their neighbors, Claire and John Phelps.
Award winners Gordon and Judy Gibson, left, with Marsha and Councilman Duane Grieve near the end of the evening.
Phyllis Nichols, third from left, with, from left, her daughter and son-in-law, Tiffany and Patrick Powell, husband, Jim, and sisters Linda Reid and Karen Gonzales. Congrats on a great night, Phyllis.