From toddlers to senior citizens, many people lined the streets of Downtown Knoxville for PrideFest on Saturday. The highly anticipated event celebrated the LGBTQ community with a parade and PrideFest events at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.
Hundreds decked out in colorful clothes and face paint showed their support for Pride month and the community. While dancers and drag queens hyped up the crowd, many organizations and businesses marched to show their support for the LGBTQ community.
“It’s the only time you ever see a lot of happy people and no hate involved,” Tim Carmichael, member of the Knoxville chapter of Prime Timers, said.
Prime Timers, a worldwide organization, supports older gay or bisexual men often isolated by family and friends because of their sexual orientation. Prime Timers works to support and connect the older gay community and socialize.
Although progress continues for the LGBTQ community in 2018, many argue that room for improvement remains.
Latisha Flores, a member of the Tennessee Equality Project, said, “There are still those people who do not understand or agree with the goals of the organization.”
“I think as more people realize that someone they know or are related to that they love identify as LGBTQ, then they realize that they are all affected.”
Tennessee Equality Project began as an organization advocating for marriage equality rights but expanded during the past 14 years. The organization hosts workshops at businesses and hospitals to educate locals and encourage welcoming behaviors toward the LGBTQ community.
Initially, pride parades were not acts of celebration, but acts of protest in memory of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 when fights ensued between police and customers of the Stonewall Inn, a prominent gay bar in New York City. Now, parades celebrate strides made by the LGBTQ community.
“Pride Month, to me, is celebrating the amazing people that are in our community,” Flores said. “It’s giving us a chance to acknowledge each other, have fun, be together and be our best selves.”
“It’s a slow process but it will only get better.”
Images by Sage Davis
Edited by Lexie Little
Various regional and national social justice organizations set up tables in the halls of Pellissippi State Community College for the 2nd annual Community and Social Justice fair Saturday, June 16.
The free fair hosted by East Tennessee Community Labs allowed citizens to learn more about organizations who advocate for social and community issues in the city. Groups included the Trans Empowerment Project, Knoxville Feminist Action Brigade and Moms Demand Action.
Moms Demand Action (MDA), a national grassroots organization, promotes polices to provide gun safety at local and national levels. The group works with lawmakers to close loopholes in gun purchasing and litigation.
“You don’t have to be a mom to be part of it, but moms get stuff done,” Jodi Scheer, co-lead of the East Tennessee chapter of MDA, said. “We are not against guns. We are pro-gun safety.”
In addition to tabling, scheduled 50-minute breakout sessions allowed groups to offer more information on topics like diversity in faculty and teachers in public schools, the intersectionality of faith and justice, race and economics.
One of the breakout sessions, “Healthcare Access & Affordability in Tennessee,” broadly covered nuances of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA and the insurance marketplace often confuse first-time applicants. The audience wondered what changes the Trump administration brings to the ACA.
“The only thing that has been changed is the tax penalty,” Richard Henighan, a volunteer from the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, said.
He explained that under the previous administration, uninsured citizens received a fine for a year with no insurance. President Trump signed a tax bill last December aimed to repeal the tax penalty. Henighan said tax premiums increased because of the lack of such a penalty.
Outside the sessions, the fair featured activities for kids, food trucks and a blood drive. All events promoted equality and progress for the Knoxville community.
Images by Sage Davis
Edited by Lexie Little
The City of Knoxville and the Women’s Suffrage Coalition unveiled the Burn Memorial Saturday, honoring Febb Burn and her son Harry Burn and their work in gaining women’s suffrage.
“Persuading a majority of Southern gentlemen to give power to women was anything but an easy task,” said Wanda Sobieski, an attorney and founder of the Woman Suffrage Coalition. “Ultimately though, Tennessee was the final ratification needed to allow women of all colors, of all religions, of all races, of all ethnic backgrounds to have full voting rights.”
Harry Burn was a state representative who was slated to vote against women’s suffrage to align himself with his constituents. However, after reading a letter from his mother, Febb Burn, he changed his vote and broke a tie in the Tennessee House of Representatives, passing the 19th Amendment nationwide. The statue depicts Harry Burn sitting in a chair and his mother standing next to him.
Mayor Rogero recounted a brief history of women’s rights, saying that Americans should rise to meet challenges and teach younger generations what is right, like Febb and Harry Burn did in 1920.
Rogero emphasized the importance of uniting to move forward and said that it took not only the women, but also support from “fair minded” men and abolitionists like Frederick Douglas.
“Remember all those years of poll taxes, the Jim Crow laws and even today we see laws passed that restrict our right to vote,” Rogero said of the future of voting rights. “We can’t take our voting rights for granted or discount efforts to disenfranchise or intimidate voters based on their ae, race, or ability.”
Singer-songwriter Candace Corrigan performed two songs she composed for the event. Both inspired by women’s rights, the lyrics of “Say it Loud” were taken from a Knoxville suffragist’ speech and “Hurrah Son and Vote for Suffrage” is a lyrical transcription of Febb Burn’s letter to her son.
Several groups met at the City County Building and marched to Market Square and then convened at Krutch Park for the unveiling of the statue. Mayor Rogero was joined by City Council members Gwen McKenzie, Lauren Rider and Seema Singh Perez to unveil the statue.
“Innocent lives matter. Our kid’s lives matter. Our lives matter,” says Zenobia Dobson, mother of the late Zaevion Dobson, at Mom’s Demand Action’s picnic for Gun Violence Awareness Day last Saturday.
Dobson, president of the Zaevion Dobson Foundation, was joined by other activists and community organizers at West Hills Park on Saturday to raise awareness for gun violence.
“Sometimes I’m lost for words. My life changed when I saw my baby boy murdered in a senseless act of gun violence.”
Dobson said she’s committed to ending gun violence in her community and said her son’s life should be an inspiration for others to stand up and make communities safer. School programs, local hospitals, and first responders all have resources for education and safety from gun violence, according to Dobson. A number of “gun sense” candidates were also in attendance, including Jaime Ballinger, who is running for state senate, and Joshua Williams and Renee Hoyos, who are running for Knoxville’s federal representative seat.
“We are here to lift each other up and create a future free of gun violence,” organizer Lisa Plawchan said.
Community organizer Andre Canty said gun violence is “as normal as apple pie,” but said he hopes people could make change in the culture.
“In the 1950s and the 1960s, they were going through a lot worse, getting killed in the streets, getting hung, lynched, but people stepped up, no matter what the danger was and made things happen,” Canty said.
Canty also said that the civil rights movement took many years before it was established in American society and that ending gun violence will be no different.
“I know that no matter how our White House is, no matter how our state legislature is, we’ve got people that are willing to work. Politicians alone are not going to make this happen. It’s up to the people.”
Dobson said that “Society has failed our youth,” and that all children have a right to be safe in their neighborhoods. Canty said he saw many young people at the March for Our Lives that inspire him to keep pushing for change.
“The young people are not going to be talked to anymore. They’re going to be talked with. In fact, we are going to listen to them.”
The day is also known as National Wear Orange Day because it is the colors hunters wear to be seen clearly and avoid danger.
Tennessee (21-17, 5-10 SEC) dropped the third and final game of a weekend series to LSU in Baton Rouge (24-13, 9-6 SEC) on a walk-off three-run home run by Tiger Daniel Cabrera. The Vols blew a four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday evening to lose 9-7.
The orange-and-white faired poorly on their trip to Alex Box Stadium over the weekend, losing all three games to the Tigers.
Friday evening, Tennessee got off to a rough start as the Vols fell 9-3 against LSU. The No. 19 ranked Tigers recorded 15 hits in the game and hit four home runs in the first three innings. LSU jumped out to an 8-0 lead and never looked back.
The Vols recorded four hits in Friday’s loss, as Garrett Crochet had a tough night on the mound and gave up eight runs in only two innings pitched.
The only productivity in the Tennessee lineup came from redshirt sophomore Nico Mascia, as he reached base twice and drove in the Volunteers’ first run of the game. Sophomores Jay Charleston and Justin Ammons combined with freshman Evan Russell to round out Tennessee’s hits in the loss.
The second game did not vary for either team. The Tigers downed Tennessee 14-5 to secure the series win.
Zach Watson proved to be the star for the Tigers, as he recorded three runs on three hits. Garrett Stallings had a rough outing for the Vols, as he gave up nine runs in only five innings to lose his third game of the season.
Ma’Khalil Hilliard pitched for LSU, and he held his own as the Tigers offense carried the team through the contest.
Hilliard allowed three runs on five hits after six innings on the bump to improve to 7-2 on the year. Jake Slaughter recorded his third home run of the series in the game and logged four runs on the night for LSU.
Once again, the only sign of life for Tennessee on offense came from Mascia, as he recorded a leadoff home run in the top off the fifth inning. Still, the Vols were left down by five after the solo shot.
Freshman Wyatt Stapp gave Tennessee a sliver of hope as he pulled the team within three runs after a two-RBI double in the top of the fifth inning. The hit was Stapp’s first in conference play.
However, LSU yanked momentum away as the Tigers recorded three runs in the fifth inning, making the final score 9-3. The game marked Mascia’s fourth straight game with a hit.
Things seemed to be going the Volunteers’ way in the third and final game of the series on Sunday. Mascia, sophomore Pete Derkay and senior Brodie Leftridge all recorded two hits in the game.
Mascia once again emerged as the stud for Tennessee on offense. He racked up three RBI’s on the evening. Mascia ripped a three-run homerun in the third inning of the game to give the Vols early life and a 4-0 lead.
Sophomore Zach Linginfelter took control in the ninth inning on the mound for Tennessee, but he didn’t have much success. He allowed LSU to cut the Tennessee lead to one run.
Sophomore Andrew Schultz came in to relieve the Volunteers but allowed a three-run walk-off home run to Daniel Cabrera to give the Tigers a 9-7 win. Tennessee recorded three errors in the loss.
Linginfelter received the loss in the game for the Vols, as he dropped to 2-4 on the season. Tennessee will play their next matchup in Johnson City, Tennessee against ETSU on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Written by Caleb Souders
Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little
Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics