Music, dance celebrate African American culture

African culture filled Historic Market Square for the 29th annual Kuumba Festival on Friday, June 22. The public celebrated the free festival with entertainment on the stage from noon to 10 p.m.

African American Appalachian Arts brought the festival to fruition. The nonprofit grassroots organization helps plan this annual festival and concentrates on bringing positive social, economic and community development through cultural arts programming.

This year’s theme, “Kuumba Forever,” honored the legacy of former Executive Director Nkechi Ajanaku who died last summer.

“I think people need to see this and experience new things,” Chelsey Goons, a UT student, said. “It really shows how much there is out there in the world to see and encourages young people to embrace their true culture.”

The “Love is the Answer” Youth Art Showcase encouraged child development through the arts.

Felecia Outsey, the creator of “Love is the Answer,” said, “[The showcase] started with me wanting to be able to have something in place for kids who could not afford to go to take dance lessons, and I was once one of those kids.”

“The initiative is an open-mic performance community showcase that is hosted every month, but what we do is use that time to teach love to children and people in our community.”

MC Zakiyyah “Sista Zock Solid” Modeste and DJ K Swift hosted the event through both sunny weather and a deluge. The Kuumba Watoto Children’s Dance and Drum Extravaganza proved a popular feature as performers livened up the scene despite the rain.

The festival ended with a live concert from local singer and poet Daje Morris and the Ogya World Music Band.


Images of the Kuumba Watoto Children’s Dance and Drum group by Sage Davis

Edited by Lexie Little


Market Square gets splash of color from ninth annual Chalk Walk

Thousands gathered in Market Square and Krutch Park on Saturday, April 1 to witness various chalk murals for the ninth annual Dogwood Arts Chalk Walk.

The chalk artists ranged from families and adults to children and high school art classes.

Every mural had an image1inspiration behind it. “It was a combination of mine and my children’s favorite things because they wanted to participate this year, too. Butterflies are my favorite. My daughter wanted a rainbow and my son wanted the Smoky Mountains, so we just combined all those together,” Amber Willis said.

Artist Fawne DeRosia decided to go with somebody who people would instantly recognize in East Tennessee.

“Honestly, I did a little digging on who is famous around Knoxville, because I knew I was coming here and Dolly was the first person who popped up, so I was like she’s awesome, let’s do a portrait of her,” DeRosia said.

Connie Passarella, one of the over 25,000 attendees, was amazed at the level of talent of the artists.image2

“It’s really interesting because I’ve never seen anything like it. I have seen it in books before and I wanted to do it at home, so I always like to take back ideas like this,” Passarella said.

Founder Kathy Slocum discusses the reasoning behind the use of chalk for the festival.

“The chalk is used because it’s water soluble and we don’t have to worry about it lasting forever, good and bad. Monday it’s going to rain and this will all be gone,” Slocum said. “But that’s part of the intrigue of this art, is that it’s not permanent. It’s here today and gone tomorrow.”

Artists began their pieces at 8:30 a.m. and had to be finished by 4:30 p.m. Attendees could vote for their favorite piece and the awards were given later in the afternoon.

For the list of winners for this year’s Chalk Walk, check out their website.

Feature Image by Vanessa Rodriguez

Edited by Katy Hill

Knoxvillians unite to denounce DeVos, predicted Secretary of Education pick

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Nearly 250 citizens gathered in front of Sen. Lamar Alexander’s downtown office to protest the likely appointment of Betsy DeVos to the office of Secretary of Education on Monday, Jan. 30.

Those in the crowd insisted that DeVos was not qualified for the job due to her lack of experience in public education. Many also expressed frustration with Alexander’s apparent lack of response to their calls to oppose the appointment. Despite these concerns, attendees said that they felt better knowing that they were at least able to find some level of local support.

“I don’t think Trump would ever pick a good Secretary of Education, but he can certainly find somebody better than DeVos,” Stephen Wilke, an attendee, said. Wilke led several of the crowd’s chants and held a sign reading “Dump DeVos”. Another sign he carried read, “Education is a right, not a [expletive] privilege”.

Dave Gorman teaches seventh-grade science at Cedar Bluff Middle School, and has been in the profession for 16 years. Gorman said that he does not think DeVos is qualified because she does not know enough about the public school system, and does not seem interested in learning. “The questions she was asked [in her confirmation hearing] about federal laws – she didn’t know those things, and didn’t think she needed to. She hadn’t prepared, and you don’t prepare when you’re arrogant. She felt it was in the bag, I think, and that’s unfortunate.”

Kevin Rowland is a teaching veteran with 20 years of experience under his belt. He said that one of the major sources of his frustration has been what he describes as silence from Sen. Alexander, which makes him wonder if anyone on the other end of the phone line cares enough to listen. “Senator Alexander has a history of being willing to reach across the aisle if need be, to work with people who hold different points of view. But for some reason, on this issue… it seems like he’s completely shut himself off from his constituents, and I think Senator Alexander is better than that.”

Although the crowd’s frustration was palpable, there was also talk of inspiration and hope for the future.

“There’s been a chant that this is what democracy looks like, and it is. This is what America looks like,” Gorman said. “Somebody in this crowd is thinking, ‘I’m gonna be the one that’s gonna help make a change. I should run for office. I’m gonna make sure I’m registered to vote. I’m gonna make sure my friends are registered to vote.’ These are the things that inspire people.”

Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the Secretary of Education on Tuesday morning. This is unlikely to deter protestors, though, if Gorman has anything to say about it. “We’re fighting, and we will continue to fight and protest. It’s inspiring to see this many people here. This is where it starts.”

Additional coverage of this event and protest footage can be found here.

Featured image by Bradley Blackwelder

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

Opinion: Peppermint Trail of Treats offers fun holiday treats and encourages local shopping

The city of Knoxville is hosting an event called the Peppermint Trail of Treats, which began on Nov. 25 and will end on Jan. 8.

The purpose of the Peppermint Trail of Treats is to encourage people to shop at the unique shops in Market Square, while enjoying peppermint flavored treats.

In order to know where each business is located, there are giant peppermints placed in front of the local businesses.

Of course getting your dose of peppermint flavored hot chocolate and coffee or a peppermint and lavender facial is great; but, the trail of lights right across from the square are something to enjoy while visiting these local businesses.

The peppermint hot chocolate from Coffee and Chocolate tastes wonderful and their variety chocolate is good too.

Bluetique saw some business on Black Friday that they believe was encouraged by the Peppermint Trail of Treats.

“Black Friday especially, people would come in with their kids and would stay and shop to take advantage of the deals,” Quinlyn Zandi, an employee at Bluetique, said.

On the other hand, one business said that they have not seen much business just yet from the Peppermint Trail of Treats. “It hasn’t picked up yet, but as it gets closer to the holiday season and kids getting out of school we will see a pick up on the peppermint trail,” Lindsey West, an Earth To Old City employee, said.

The Peppermint Trail of Treats is a fun way to visit some local businesses and get those fun Christmas gifts. The trail of treats is also a fun way to get out and see a bit more of this interesting city.

Featured Image by Emily Haskew

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors play for a packed audience at Market Square

With hundreds of audience members in attendance, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors received a big welcome home on Saturday, Nov. 5. Fellow Knoxville natives, Cereus Bright, joined and opened for the band. The free concert was put on by the Campus Events Board and served as the bookend to the 100th University of Tennessee Homecoming celebration.

Carly Crawford, a University of Tennessee student and concert attendee said, “It’s really cool to not only have this free concert, but to also have UT alums playing.”

Drew Holcomb and his wife, Ellie Holcomb who sang alongside the band, met while attending the University of Tennessee. During the concert, Drew stated that he and Ellie would come to Market Square when they were students to hear live music. He went on to say, “it’s a really surreal experience to be playing at a venue that we would come to so often as students.”

The band played many old songs as well as a couple new tracks. The band put the audience on their feet with songs like “Fire and Dynamite,” “Here We Go,” and “Good Light.” They also appealed to the couples in the audience by playing slow hits such as “American Beauty” and “Hung the Moon.” The band even played two brand new songs, one which they had just recorded the day before.

The hit song of the night, “Tennessee,” was played during the encore and hit home with the audience featuring lyrics “It’s not just geography, it’s a part of me, the air I breathe.”

The bands had to stick strictly to the Market Square sound ordinance leading to the concert ending promptly at 10 p.m.

With so many students and general public in attendance, this concert served a successful ending to the monumental 100th University of Tennessee Homecoming.

You can stay connected with Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors on their website by checking out tour dates, videos, updates and much more.

Featured Image by Gabrielle Harman

Edited by Katy Hill

HoLa Festival invites Knoxville community to learn about Latin American culture

The HoLa Hora Latina organization hosted its annual HoLa Festival at Market Square in downtown Knoxville this past weekend in celebration of diversity and culture in the Knoxville community. The festival was also a part of the local celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The purpose of this festival was to invite the public to learn and to enjoy the best of Hispanic food, music, arts and much more.

The HoLa Hora Latina organization invited 25 Latin American countries to come out and support and share their love of their country. Though not all 25 countries were present, the ones who did set up bright, colorful booths to show their love for their country.

“I wanted to come and share my culture with everyone,” Dorca Rose said as she and her daughter were setting up their Venezuelan stand for the first time at the festival.

Attendees participated in many activities and walked around to the informational booths along the streets. Food vendors included Puerto Rico, Cuba, Boliva and other Latin American countries. Singers, dancers and other performers performed on the main stage throughout the festival. The festival also featured a Parade of Nations on Gay Street with costumes and music to celebrate Knoxville’s 225th anniversary of its founding.

The Puerto Rico stand has been coming and supporting their culture for the past seven years. The stand sold handmade crafts from Puerto Rico. The Guatemala stand sold handmade bracelets and other trinkets. All of the proceeds from this stand go to children in Guatemala.

“This is my first year coming to the festival and I love seeing all the different Latina countries come together,” said festival attendee, Ramsey Waldrop.

You can learn more about this festival and the HoLa Hora Latina organization by visiting their website.

Featured Image by Margo Sweeney

Edited by Katy Hill and Kaitlin Flippo