Community Voices Mayor Forum a Success for Inner City Knoxville

From left to right, Mayoral candidates Marshall Stair, Michael Andrews, Calvin Taylor Skinner, Indya Kincannon, Eddie Mannis and Fletcher ‘Knoxville’ Burkhart.

Thursday’s Mayoral Candidate Forum at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in East Knoxville garnered a large gathering of Knoxville citizens.

Organized by SEEED and the Community Voices Coalition the forum aimed to focus on the issues that matter most to the urban and inner city communities of Knoxville.

There has been a concerning absence of questions in previous candidate forums in regards to what matters most to many East Knoxville and inner city residents. These are gun violence, youth opportunities, poverty, and affordable utilities.

Hundreds of community members were surveyed recently in an effort to gain feedback on what matters most to them. It was also a chance for the Mayoral candidates to let the inner city residents know where they stand on matters that have continuously plagued marginalized residents.

Turnout was high and local residents such as Denzel Grant and community representative for Trisha Melton, Mother of the late Chris Melton, who lost his life to gun violence at the hands of a gang member in South Knoxville got the chance to take the podium and share their stories of struggle, pain, and concern for the city.

The forum was moderated by Knox County Education Association President Tanya Coats. All six mayoral candidates were present which included, Marshall Stair, Indya Kincannon, Michael Andrews, Calvin Taylor Skinner, Eddie Mannis, and Fletcher ‘Knoxville’ Burkhart.

Over the course of two hours each candidate was able to answer questions and offer their solutions to questions raised during the Community Voices Coalition survey.

The Community Voices Coalition is a group of local organizers who are working to survey residents, particularly low-income and people of color who are often left out of the conversation. The goal is to promote participation in community conversations and candidate forums, and to allow citizens to tell their stories to identify LOCAL solutions to their most serious issues.

It is a necessary initiative in the City of Knoxville due to the economic decline of the Black community and climbing poverty rate. We have lost far too many children and young adults to gun violence in our city and the increase in gang activity has left a stain that has been difficult to clean up.

It must also be noted that we have far too many Knoxvillians whose livelihoods are declining due to unaffordable utility bills and housing, and youth who are falling as prey to the streets.

As the local election season is underway we must continue these difficult conversations and continue to ask the hard questions.

Our candidates must be aware of what is going on in all of Knoxville particularly in areas hurting the most.

As voters it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on the issues and vote in November for leaders who will best represent not only the suburban communities but also the Black community and inner city of Knoxville.

It is time our voices be heard. SEEED and the Community Voices Coalition are in our corner and giving us an opportunity to do just that, and we thank them.

Angela Dennis is a Freelance Writer and Blogger residing in Knoxville, TN. Her work has been featured in multiple publications such as Knox News Sentinel, Blavity, Black Girl Nerds, etc.



KNOXVILLE—State Representative Rick Staples and other state and local officials will hold a bridge dedication ceremony on Thursday honoring the three victims of a deadly bus crash in 2014. 

Zykia D. Burns, Seraya “Bubbles” Glasper, and Kimberly Lynn Wester Riddle were killed and 27 other adults and children were injured when a bus from Chilhowee Intermediate School swerved across the eastbound lanes of Asheville Highway and struck another bus that was leaving Sunnyview Primary School. Burns and Glasper were students at Sunnyview and Riddle was a teacher’s aide at the same school.

Rep. Staples said, “Losing two little children and a wife and mother was a terrible tragedy in our community. It is my hope that this dedication will honor their memory as we keep them forever in our hearts.”

In addition to Rep. Staples, Senator Becky Massey, Knox County Mayor Glen Jacobs, and Knox County School Superintendent Bob Thomas are scheduled to appear, as well as representatives from other state and local offices.

The naming ceremony will take place on Thursday, July 25 from 10:00 to 10:30 AM at the Milton E. Roberts Recreation Center, 5900 Asheville Highway in Knoxville.   

Clinton 12’s Alvah McSwain Lambert Passes Away

In a statement by the Green McAdoo Cultural Center Alvah McSwain Lambert of the Clinton 12 has passed away.

She resided in Wilmington, California where she departed.

She was proud of the fact that she convinced her mother to return to high school so they could graduate together.

Ms. Lambert was integral in the Civil Rights Movement as one of the 12 students that fought for the integration of Clinton High School.

Before 1956, black high school students were bused out of the county to Knoxville since no black segregated high school existed in Anderson County. 

 In 1954 Brown vs. the Board of Education ordered Clinton High School in Clinton, Tennessee to desegregate.

Clinton High School students, from left, Jo Ann Allen, Alvah McSwain, and Theresser Caswell are pictured Aug. 30, 1956, during integration at the school that prompted riots. News Sentinel archives

It would be two years later in the fall of 1956 when 12 Black teenagers who were known as the Clinton 12 would walk out of class leading to the desegregation of the first public school in the south.

Every school day morning, the Clinton 12 met at Green McAdoo School and walked together down Broad Street from Foley Hill to Clinton High School.

In September of 2006 the McSwain Sisters told the story that predated the Clinton 12.

(As published in The Oak Ridger’s Historically Speaking column on September 5, 2006)

The Clinton 12 included Maurice Soles, Anna T. Caswell, Alfred Williams, Regina Turner Smith, William R. Latham, Gail Ann Epps Upton, Ronald Gordon “Poochie” Hayden, JoAnn Crozier, Allen Boyce, Robert Thacker, Bobby Cain, Minnie Ann Dickey Jones, and Alvah McSwain.

She will be dearly missed.

Angela Dennis is a Freelance Writer and Blogger. Her work has been featured in multiple publications such as Knox News Sentinel, East Tennessee Enlightener, Blavity, Black Girl Nerds, and more.

Knox County Vote on Indigent Care June 6

In a battle for indigent healthcare funding, local citizen and community advocate Vivian Underwood Shipe is speaking up and speaking out on an issue that could potentially affect thousands of indigent Knoxvillians.

The indigent care program provides medical care for for 1,100 of Knox County’s poorest citizens.

Mayor Glenn Jacob’s plan to decrease funding to the program by 30 percent is not only a mistake but hurts the most vulnerable population in the City of Knoxville.

As of Tuesday night, the commission was unable to come to a conclusion on the budget cut delaying it to June 6 when the vote will take place.

In a recent post by Ms. Shipe she is urging Knoxville citizens to contact their local commissioner and ask that they don’t allow the cuts.

You may attend the meeting on June 6 at 4pm which will be held at the City County Building’s Main Assembly Room.

There will be a discussion and a vote on the indigent cuts on June 6th at 4:pm
There will Be NO public forum. .
Let your commission know you care about those 18 to 64 year olds who will be affected!!!
Come and bear witness to the vote.
This is a ethical and moral vote!
Come out on June 6!

The budget was presented in a neat little box yet the truth lay at the bottom wrapped in a handkerchief of lies. We have a budget SURPLUS in that 831 MILLION dollar budget!
There should NEVER have been a discussion to cut care for the indigent!!

Vivian Underwood Shipe
Community Advocate Vivian Underwood Shipe

Nikki Giovanni’s Mulvaney Street Honored in Knoxville

On Thursday legendary poet, author, and civil rights activist Nikki Giovanni returned to her hometown where the City of Knoxville honored her by unveiling a new marker at the Cal Johnson Recreational Center.

Citizens paid their respect and applauded her efforts and importance particularly to the black community.

Mayor Madeline Rogero and City Councilwoman Gwen McKenzie introduced her to the crowd while paying tribute to her historic ties locally.

In Nikki fashion she gave an exuberating speech rooted in our black culture, while highlighting the importance of Appalachian history and sneaking some digs in about the current political climate and women’s rights.

Knoxville News Sentinel

Published on May 23, 2019

“I am so proud to be a Knoxvillian, because we of the Appalachian Mountains, we in the Appalachian Trail and this area saved this country”, said Giovanni.

She added “We are proud of the white people that we live with because they stood up for this country and are are some of the best in America. They were not afraid of some brown people coming over a wall. They were not afraid of some women making the decision to control their own body. They were not afraid. I just thought I’d mention that”, she laughed.

“We in Appalachia are not afraid of the truth and justice. And we in Appalachia will continue to not be afraid because we in Appalachia white and black brown and yellow are a great people. And we won’t let anybody take that greatness away from us”

After her riveting speech Giovanni shared her poem entitled Knoxville, Tennessee as she spoke on the importance of her grandparents John Brown and Louvenia Watson and their Mulvaney Street residence.

In 2016, Nikki Giovanni wrote a letter to the editor of the Knox News Sentinel venting her frustrations about the effects of Urban Renewal and its damage to her beloved home and the black community.

She wrote:

“Those of us who lived on Mulvaney Street gave up a neighborhood and a street name for what became Summit Hill Drive. We placed a plaque there celebrating 400 Mulvaney St, the home of my grandparents. Directly up the hill was Mount Zion Baptist Church. You can imagine my heartbreak when I recently visited Knoxville and went to pay tribute to Mr. and Mrs. Watson, my grandparents; Mr. and Mrs. White, our next-door neighbors; and across the street Reverend and Mrs. Abrum, who raised chickens for their eggs; among others, only to be confronted with a square garbage collection bin almost blocking that plaque.

Those who come to what is now another street name can barely see that it was originally Mulvaney Street.

The Cal Johnson Park remains but the old Gem Theater, the drugstore where we got our ice cream cones between Sunday school and church, as well as the home of Mrs. Black, are all gone.

Is it really too much to ask our hometown to acknowledge if not respect that which we built that is now gone to the ancestors?”

For yesterday’s unveiling of the Mulvaney Street marker at Cal Johnson Rec, it’s somewhat of an answer to Giovanni’s cries. And we certainly hope that the current redevelopment efforts of East Knoxville result in a more positive outcome for the Black community.

We thank Nikki Giovanni for continuing to be a voice for us locally and relishing in her roots as a proud Knoxvillian.

Photo Gallery

Angela Dennis is a Freelance Writer and Blogger in Knoxville, TN. Her work has been featured in the Knox News Sentinel, East TN Enlightener, and other publications.

White Nationalists at UT Knoxville May 28

It has come to our attention that White Nationalists will convene at the University of Tennessee next Tuesday May 28 at 6pm. The event will be held at the Alumni Memorial Building.

UT states “The topic of this meeting is entitled “White Nationalism: Fact or Fiction.” The organizer has anti-Semitic and racist views. He is not being sponsored or hosted by any university-affiliated organization; he is renting space on our campus. The UT Police Department is aware of the event and engaged in efforts to secure campus”

Interim Chancellor Wayne Davis issued a formal announcement regarding the meeting today expressing his sentiments and denouncing all forms of hate.

We hope that all of our Knoxville citizens who wish to organize or protest remember their constitutional rights and remain safe.

Hopefully one day we can put a stop to hate groups on college campuses nationwide.

See below for details:

Angela Dennis is a Freelance Writer & Blogger in Knoxville, TN

Black Candidates in Knoxville Matter

by Angela Dennis

There’s a busy election season in Knoxville under way with City Council and a Mayoral race this year. I believe it is important for our urban community to remember that we have some great minority candidates seeking office.

While some may feel that race has little to do with one’s qualifications, we should ask ourselves who better can understand and serve our community best than those who have truly lived and breathed the perils and struggles of the African American experience?

I’m not telling you to blindly vote. But I am telling you to do your homework.

Urban and East Knoxville particularly are hurting. Shifting our focus on this plight will serve our citizens best and help to make Knoxville a better city for all of us.

If we are going to make Knoxville great, all of our neighborhoods have to thrive.

This includes East Knoxville, Lonsdale, Mechanicsville, Burlington, and every last zip code that is economically drowning.

With revitalization efforts under way across the city and plans to restore East Knoxville we don’t want another episode of Urban Renewal 2.0

Affordable housing, gun violence, jobs, indigent care, and education are just a few of the issues that urban Knoxvillians care about. And several of our candidates are echoing those sentiments.

I think that it is critical that we understand that our votes matter and in order to affect change in communities that need it most, we need effective local leaders.

We need radical change. We’ve gone too long not getting by in a community that’s lacking resources for our children and citizens.

City Council is the Legislative body of the City of Knoxville. City voters will cast ballots in the primary race on August 27th and elect new members on November 5, 2019.

We have 4 open city council seats, with 3 at large races.  Minority candidates include:

Charles Lomax- At Large Seat A

David Hayes- At Large Seat B

Amelia Parker- At Large Seat C

Hubert (Frazier) Smith- At Large Seat C

Now that you have an idea of whom we have seeking to represent Knoxville, I urge each and every one to research and dig deep so that we can make informed decisions when we go to the voting booths in November. Local elections matter and when we have diverse candidates we need to all exercise our constitutional rights and vote collectively.

Our Presidential elections certainly carry weight, but when we want real change in our backyards we must be involved locally.

We have failing schools in East Knoxville, a need for affordable housing and safe streets free from gun violence and gang activity.

Some of our children just want to play outside.

Simply put the needs of urban America stretch far and wide, Knoxville too. Remember that on November 5th.


May 29, 2019 First day to request an absentee ballot
July 29, 2019 Final day to register to vote before election
August 7, 2019 First day of Early Voting period
August 20, 2019 Final day to request an absentee ballot
August 22, 2019 Final day of Early Voting period
August 27, 2019 ELECTION DAY


August 7, 2019 First day to request an absentee ballot
October 7, 2019 Final day to register to vote before election
October 16, 2019 First day of Early Voting period
October 29, 2019 Final day to request an absentee ballot
October 31, 2019 Final day of Early Voting period
November 5, 2019 ELECTION DAY

Angela Dennis is a Freelance Writer & Blogger in Knoxville, TN