Chancellor to white supremacists: We’re ready for you!

UT-Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport, left, with Angela Pugh, who hosted a Knoxville Symphony League “Elegant Dining” lunch in her home on Wednesday. Davenport was the guest of honor.

University of Tennessee-Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport has a message for white supremacists planning to come to campus Feb. 17: “We are on it!”

Davenport spoke to about 20 women — and one man — on Wednesday at a luncheon put on by the Knoxville Symphony League in the West Knoxville home of League member Angela Pugh. She covered a wide variety of topics, but one weighed most heavily on her mind, she confided.

“A white supremacist group is coming and we meet every day about this,” she said. “I would like nothing better than to say they can’t come. But they have the First Amendment right to speak. We will control the time, place and manner where their free speech takes place.”

She does not expect a replay of the violence that occurred when a white supremacist group gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year. “Charlottesville was not prepared. We’ve been on this since summer.” Davenport said campus leaders have been coordinating with city of Knoxville and state authorities, as well as with the FBI in preparation for the event.

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Rachel Ford, left, with Chancellor Davenport.

The university will put on a series of other events to compete with the speech by Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Worker Party, an organization characterized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. “We are planning events for our students to be talking about  issues of unity and where does hate come from,” she said.

Davenport said these white supremacists are the same ones painting hate messages on UT’s famous rock on campus in front of the Natalie L. Haslam School of Music. “They are emailing me and tagging me,” she said, in an effort to let her know that they are the ones responsible.

“They are going where they believe they can have an audience. They say they are coming to recruit. We hope they don’t have one iota of success!” she said.

She had a request of the folks gathered for the luncheon. “Stand with me for peace and unity and against violence and ugliness,” she implored.

In other remarks, Davenport said she is supportive of fraternities and sororities on campus and is opposed to legislation recently introduced in Nashville that would ban them from campus. “I will be a proponent for Greek life,” said Davenport, who was president of the ADPi sorority when she was a student at Western Kentucky University. “Students in fraternities and sororities have higher graduation rates, are more likely to be campus leaders and are our highest category of donors.”

All the hosts of the luncheon posing with the guest of honor. From left, Mary Sue Greiner, Angelia Nystrom, Charlene Edwards, Chancellor Davenport, Stacy Moody and Angela Pugh.

Mimosas were a hit!

From left, Jane Venable, Rachel Ford, Susan Brackney and Frank Venable.

From left, Sandra Butler, Marisa Stone and Linda Tisue.

From left, Mary Sue Greiner, Fran Dunn and Stacy Moody.

From left, Eleanor Nichols, Nancy Barnett and Cathy Briscoe-Graves.

Stacy Moody introducing Chancellor Davenport.

Lunch was fantastic homemade spinach quiche.

The strawberry shortcake featured melt-in-your-mouth pound cake from Ham ’n’ Goodies and homemade whipped cream.

All the centerpieces featured flowers of the appropriate colors of orange and white!


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11 Responses to Chancellor to white supremacists: We’re ready for you!

  1. Pingback:Davenport opines on fraternities, supremacists - Hardin Valley

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  3. Mary Helen Ayres, on February 8th, 2018 at 11:17 pm said:

    The chancellor does not explain why the university is offering this hate group a platform in the first place. That its members have first amendment rights is not at issue; it’s that the university is actively facilitating the dissemination of racism.This group represents and aggressively champions views that are universally abhorrent. No legitimate institution should be providing them a venue. Groups like this thrive on the attention they receive, and her engaging with all her busy planning, and all the expensive resources being devoted, at taxpayer expense, is great news for them! The chancellor is doing a wonderful job making Matthew Heimbach feel very important by welcoming him to our campus. As a UTK alumna and great-granddaughter of Brown Ayres, I’m appalled.

  4. Tracy Haun, on February 9th, 2018 at 11:02 am said:

    I am with Ms. Ayres, and I don’t understand why the Chancellor, whom I admire, is obligated to give this group a forum, given that they registered for the space using false information.

  5. Georgiana Vines, on February 9th, 2018 at 1:26 pm said:

    Glad Beverly Davenport is speaking outside the university community to gather support for positive programs to compete with white nationalist event. Important for broader community to understand campus problems.

  6. Cynthia Moxley, on February 9th, 2018 at 1:34 pm said:

    Georgiana: I agree with you. I think if they try to shut the guy down, the situation will escalate, giving the haters even more attention.

  7. Mary Helen Ayres, on February 9th, 2018 at 4:30 pm said:

    We have dealt with poor dumb and dangerous Matthew here in Indiana for several years now. Yes, if he were shut down, he would still show up with his idiot minions and try to raise a ruckus. So what? Any appearance on campus will require massive amounts of security. The Boston weekend that followed Charlottesville was a well-designed containment strategy that allowed for the non-violent expression of first amendment rights, without providing an institutional platform for racists. Better than welcoming them into the halls of higher learning. I’m not too interested in how the all-white symphony crowd responded to the chancellor’s plans. Rather, I’d like to know more about what kind of guidance Chancellor Davenport is taking from the non-white students, faculty and staff on campus as she makes her plans to facilitate this farce. Are they as enthused about the lipstick she’s putting on this pig in the form of the “events for students to talk about unity?” Are THEY organizing it? If she’s got black and brown leadership taking charge of events, my views would likely change.

  8. Beth Applegate, on February 9th, 2018 at 6:32 pm said:

    Bravo Maryhelen Ayres, for showing up for racial justice while helping us understand what is and is not the issue at hand, and repectfully calling Chancellor Davenport into accountability. It is critical that she center people of color voices and input into the strategy and tactics planned, and also ensure the outcomes of her plans will not further marginalize or harm People of color students, faculty and staff. It is critical that white people organize and show up for racial justice and that we do this in collaboration, consultation and in accountability with people of color.

  9. Sandra Butler, on February 9th, 2018 at 11:24 pm said:

    I attended this Symphony League fundraising luncheon. The majority of Chancellor Davenport’s time yesterday was spent sharing her goals; speaking of UT’s nationally-ranked colleges, schools, departments; telling of recruitment of top-notch students to live in dorms second to none; sharing info. about new buildings enhancing our campus, etc. What is reported in this blog arose during the question/answer portion. I appreciate the Chancellor’s candor and honesty in sharing concerns. Representatives of Student Government, faculty and staff have been and are very much involved in preparing for the 17th. Several events are planned to educate. Our Chancellor is not a shrinking violet; she has my admiration.

  10. Stacy, on February 10th, 2018 at 2:09 am said:

    Bravo to my friend, Sandra Butler. As the organizer of the ‘Symphony Crowd’ luncheon, I’m not sure what to think of these comments. Chancellor Davenport is between a rock & a hard place and she is incredibly accountable. To think that this doesn’t keep her awake at night is mind-boggling. All I can say at this point is that Cancellor Davenport was gracious and is absolutely the correct choice to lead UT into the future. I serve on an Alumni Board & as a result attended her investiture as Chancellor. I could not have been more proud of UT that day….

  11. Becky Paylor, on February 10th, 2018 at 4:26 pm said:

    I too attended the luncheon with Chancellor Davenport and her devotion to all students of every skin color and their protection is utmost on her mind. It’ s so easy to sit back and criticize those that on are on the front lines serving in Public. I admire her determination and her ability to be herself while facing hatred from some students, some arm chair quarterbacks, all the while keeping her composure and with lipstick on. A strong, modern woman with a very savvy mind. We are lucky to have her!

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