Faith Leaders Initiative Honors Civil Rights Icons

Phi Beta Sigma President Micheal Rodgers, who also sang at the event, stands by the poster of his fraternity brother. Photos by Vivian Shipe

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — The trees and poles along Martin Luther King Avenue had been lined with Blue ribbons in honor of Congressman John Lewis and Rev. C.T.Vivian.  The 70-plus ministers of the Faith Leaders Initiative who usually

Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie leads the crowd during the celebration.

meet on Thursday afternoon from 5 to 6 gathered on July 31st to socially distance and honor the memory of the the two icons who passed away on the same day.

The event was set up outside  on the lawn on Greater Warner Tabernacle AME Zion Church. The brothers of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, of which Lewis was a member, were there to honor their brother also. A storm began right as the program began but, undeterred, the attendees moved to the porch and other surrounding shelter and the program continued.

Led by Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie with a rousing speech and prayer by civil rights icon Reverend Harold Middlebrook who was close friends with both Lewis and

Rep. Rick Staples reads proclamations for Congressman John Lewis and the Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian.

Vivian; the one hour prayer vigil recognized the great work done by both men. The group also prayed for the leadership in the areas of social justice, government, schools, and community. 

Representative Rick Staples also attended the event and read proclamations from the Black Caucus of Tennessee which will be housed in the archives of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center.

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