KNOXVILLE, TN — Hubert realized that in Knoxville lived some of the greatest civil rights advocates of the sixties and he reached out to them with the intent just to get to know them. His first lunch guest was the great Avon Rollins, civil rights pioneer with whom he would meet twice a month at the Knoxville Hilton. As their friendship grew, they would each invite a friend or two to join them for food and fellowship. Soon their numbers grew to 12.
When Avon passed away, the Motley Crew, as they had begun to call themselves, moved to the Crown Plaza where they first dined in the dining room until the luncheon, only advertised by word of mouth, grew so large they moved it into one of the Salons in the Ballroom of the hotel and thus “Another Motley Crew Luncheon” was born and for two years has been held the first Friday of each month.
The unique lunch has great diversity and during the luncheon, titles, positions, race, partisanship, or religion, do not matter. The people who attend come only for food, fun and fellowship. There is no solicitation and no speeches. Every lunch guest stands and introduces themselves and first time guest are recognized. The first twenty five ladies are greeted at the door with a rose.The event is so valuable to this exclusive downtown hotel, they offer free parking just for this lunch and include a drink and an ice cream along with the full buffet which is complete with meats, a variety of sea foods, salads and soups along with a complement of different vegetables.
The attendees, who can come and go as they choose during the hour and half they are together, get to know each other on an individual level and form friendships and networks. Local businesses provide door prizes unique to every lunch from tickets to local events to dinner tickets for area restaurants.
Hubert Smith, who has a stellar reputation in the community for being fair, works to keep the luncheon inclusive and non offensive.
The number who attended the February luncheon, 73, the largest in the two years since its beginning, shows his intent to keep it light, fun and friendly so people will keep coming back and inviting others; is working.