Just Blaze Hot Dogs is owned by African American Entrepeneur, Jerrick Jones. Youth workers, Shanti Henry and Saniya Andrews expertly manned the stand for the event.

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — What do you do when you learn the numbers are down in the inner city during early voting and you know how critical local elections are?

If you are Gail Carter, long time community advocate for over 50 years, you rally the troops.

Gail Carter Event Coordinator for East Side Lunch and Vote event. Photos by Vivian Shipe

Carter decided that the first Monday of early voting she would remove one of the barriers of trying to vote on the lunch hour by providing a free lunch for those who came out to vote with hotdogs, chips, and drinks.

Her dedication to the community and her connections from over the last 50 years made getting sponsors easy as tents were donated, hotdogs were purchased from one of Knoxville’s top food vendors, ice-cold waters came from I Am the Voice of the Voiceless and chips from business owner Valeria Clark with Pinnacle Elite lined the tables for the voters as they came out.

Longtime community leaders came out in support of the event to encourage the people to pull into the parking lot of the Eternal Life Harvest Plaza and exercise their right to vote. One of those leaders was the first African American woman to serve on the Knox County Commission. The Honorable Diane Jordan, who served four terms came to lend her support and lead by example as she went into the booth to cast her ballot and encouraged others to come out and do the same.

As the people streamed in and out of the building during the two-hour event, Carter seemed pleased that in a time of national voter suppression, one barrier had been removed to give people the opportunity vote in Knoxville.

Every vote counts.