It’s been more than a week and I still can’t get that darned song out of my head!
I was among the some 800 people at the Knoxville Convention Center last Thursday to hear two-time Grammy winner Peabo Bryson bring the crowd to its feet during the Knoxville Area Urban League’s annual Equal Opportunity Awards Gala. The song? “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again,” Bryson’s 1984 Top Ten smash hit.
It was the folks at the Urban League who had the most reason to be on their feet cheering. This year’s event raised the most money ever. Yay!
This is one spectacular night. Scripps Networks is a major sponsor — and they bring their professional know-how to the party by producing the entire evening. So everything from the centerpieces to the lighting to the video and sound is perfect. And the Convention Center is the ideal location for such a production. It’s big enough so that everyone can get around, there’s room for a large dance floor, and parking is more than adequate.
The Urban League served more than 8,000 East Tennesseans last year from all socio-economic and racial backgrounds. Among other things, the Urban League provided these resources for the greater Knoxville community:
- Employment counseling to more than 700 people and skills training to 225 people resulting in 72 job placements and 55 internships;
- Housing counseling to 449 people, foreclosure prevention and mortgage default assistance to 149 people, and help for 33 people purchasing their first homes;
- Small business loans totalling $650,000, creating 20 new jobs;
- Donation of nearly 1,000 pairs of shoes and school supplies to kids most in need.
In addition to being a great time and a successful fundraising event, the gala also is the Urban League’s occasion to distribute its annual awards:
- The Volunteer of the Year Award went to Nate Ware of U.S. Cellular;
- The Corporate Leadership Award went to Allstate, The Lonnie Jones Agency;
- The Minority Business Award went to the Hispanic Chamber of East Tennessee.
The Urban League is the nation’s oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans and disadvantaged others to enter the economic and social mainstream. The Knoxville affiliate is one of the most successful in the country and I am very honored to serve on its board.
As I watched neo-Nazis march through downtown Knoxville recently, I realized that the work of the Urban League is nowhere near done. Please join the Urban League by clicking here and help us in this worthy battle against racism.
Now, back to the party!