Phyllis Nichols, president and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League, welcoming the crowd.
The Knoxville Area Urban League is 50 years old this year and, to celebrate, the civil rights organization last week brought in popular R&B group After 7 for its annual awards gala. And it recognized its eight previous Whitney M. Young Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award winners.
“Our focus remains on jobs, justice, education, entrepreneurship and housing because these are the things that make our community one that is fully healthy — one where we all can thrive and believe our contributions matter,” said Phyllis Nichols, the fifth president and CEO in the Knoxville Area Urban League’s history. She has held the post since 1999.
Former winners of the Knoxville Area Urban League’s top award are:
- Gloria Garner, a longtime Urban League employee and community volunteer;
- Margaret and Felix Gaiter, community volunteers;
- Robert Booker, former legislator, author and historian;
- Helen Ashe and Ellen Turner, founders of the Love Kitchen;
- Dr. Harold A. Middlebrook Sr., a beloved minister and civil rights leader who was a friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.;
- Rita Geier, a trailblazing attorney who succeeded in desegregating higher education in Tennessee;
- Theotis Robinson Jr., the first black undergraduate at the University of Tennessee who eventually became a vice president there;
- Rev. Dr. Gordon and Judy Gibson, longtime community activists.
The annual event, held at the Knoxville Convention Center, is the Urban League’s largest fundraiser of the year. It’s also the group’s largest and most festive social event of the year. I guess that’s why it attracted so many politicians!
First, a cocktail party! From left, Randy and Angie Merritt with Julia and Marty Gibbs. Randy and Marty are with The Christman Company, a valued Moxley Carmichael client.
Tom and Deanene Catani. He’s with U.S. Cellular, another great Moxley Carmichael client.
Maria McHale, left, and Lauren Miller, both of Moxley Carmichael.
Moxley Carmichael president Alan Carmichael with Geraldine Gallman, who helps us with projects on a freelance basis.
Moxley Carmichael’s CFO Shaun Fulco and her boyfriend, Dave Ballance.
John McCulley, Moxley Carmichael’s senior web developer, and his girlfriend, Carrie Tapp.
Lane and Julie Morris.
City Councilman Marshall Stair and his wife, Natalie. (He’s running for mayor.)
City Council member Gwen McKenzie with Karl Dean, who is running for governor of Tennessee.
Meanwhile, inside the ballroom, Phyllis Nichols took a moment to pose with the band. From left, Kevon Edmonds, Phyllis, Jason Edmonds and Keith Mitchell.
And with D.J. Sterling Henton, aka Sterl the Pearl, who warmed up the crowd prior to the band taking the stage.
Tearsa Smith of WATE-TV was the emcee for the evening. With her is her husband, Lucious Bonds.
Mayor Madeline Rogero and gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean, center, flanked by Shawn and David Owens.
Dean made the most of the pre-dinner mingling opportunity. And I followed him! Here he is with Kim Beets of the Knoxville Convention Center.
And with Urban League Board member Rosa Mar.
With Jim Nichols.
With Janet Testerman, left, and her mom, Janet Testerman Crossley. Dean is former mayor of Nashville. Janet, left, is the daughter of a Knoxville mayor and her mom was Knoxville’s First Lady.
Two former mayors: Dean of Nashville and Randy Tyree of Knoxville.
Here Dean is with Bruce and Monique Anderson.
And with Knox County Commissioner Evelyn Gill, left, and Mayor Rogero again.
Over at the Covenant Health table were, from left, Patrick Birmingham, Max and Nicole Taylor.
Also at the Covenant table were Elizabeth Essary, Mike Hatmaker and Kenny Hawkins.
Terry and Thomas “Tank” Strickland.
The centerpieces were stunning.
Frank and Angel Rosamond. He’s president of the News Sentinel.
And, soon, the music started.
The crowd was on its feet in no time!
Eddie Mannis, who is running for Knoxville mayor, with Janet Testerman Crossley.
Soon, she hit the dance floor!
Eddie Mannis with Gay Lyons, left, and Janet Testerman.
Cute pic of Marty and Julia Gibbs!
I think this 30-second snippet of video will give you the feeling of the fun, laid-back vibe of the evening: