Voting Rights Act of 1965 Commemoration

Community Empowerment Director

Charles F. Lomax, Jr.
(865) 215-2536

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Voting Rights Act of 1965 logoThe City of Knoxville is planning a series of events in 2015 to mark the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This legislation outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the United States. 

The series will kick off with a special screening of the new film "Selma" at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 10, at Regal Cinemas' Pinnacle Turkey Creek theater, 9674 Parkside Drive. The acclaimed drama portrays the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Martin Luther King Jr., and the political negotiations behind the Voting Rights Act. 

The Voting Rights Act prohibits states from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite" to "deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." Specifically, Congress intended the act to outlaw the practice of requiring otherwise qualified voters to pass literacy tests in order to register to vote, a principal means by which Southern states had prevented African-Americans from exercising the franchise. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the act into law on Aug. 6, 1965, just 13 months after signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Schedule of Events


"Selma" movie showing at Regal Cinemas' Pinnacle Turkey Creek theater
Location: 9674 Parkside Dr.
Time: 3 p.m. 
More Info: The acclaimed drama portrays the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Martin Luther King Jr., and the political negotiations behind the Voting Rights Act. 
Tickets: Tickets to the special Jan. 10 screening are available for $8 adult and $7.50 for children and senior citizens and advanced purchasing of your ticket is encouraged. The movie is rated PG-13. Local Civil Rights leaders who participated at the grassroots level to register voters or on the national level at the White House will offer first-hand accounts of their experience. The City is offering KAT bus transportation to the movie leaving promptly from the Civic Coliseum parking garage at 2:00 returning around 6:30 p.m.. The vehicles seat up to 6 mobility devices. 


"Let Us March on Ballot Boxes" - a commemorative march in remembrance of "Bloody Sunday."
Location: March starts at corner of Gay St. and Blount Ave.
Time: 1 p.m. Lineup begins, 2 p.m. Step-off time 
More info: No motorized vehicles or animals, mobility devices and service animals are permitted, release form needs to be completed and submitted
Shuttle: 12:45 - 1:45 p.m. from the coliseum parking garage to the corner of Gay St. and Blount Ave
Route: Begin at Gay St Bridge and Blount Ave., cross Gay St Bridge, right on Hill Ave, left on Hall of Fame, end at coliseum.In the event of inclement weather stay tuned to your local TV and radio stations for announcements or call 865-215-3867 about the march. 
Following the March: 3:00 Program - Coliseum Ballroom. Voting Registration will be available. 
Cost : Free 

FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2015

Knoxville Area Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Conference
at Rothchild's Catering and Conference Center
Location: 8807 Kingston Pike
Time: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Agenda Items: Overview of the Civil Rights Movement,Fair Housing 101, Immigration/National Origin Issues, Reasonable Accommodations, Predatory Lending, Fair Housing Act Commemoration, Walk for Equality
Registration Fee: $65.00
Note: There are a limited number of scholarships available to neighborhood residents Contact: Jennifer Bell at 403-1234
Conference Sponsor: Equality Coalition for Housing Opportunities (ECHO)


A Conversation about the Status of Human Rights in Tennessee Report
at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center
Location: 1927 Dandridge Ave.
1-3 p.m.
More info:
The Status of Human Rights in Tennessee Report was released in November 2014. The report details human right issues facing Tennesseans gathered from testimony given in statewide hearings. The report highlights issues related to employment, housing, public access,justice, immigration, LGBT, Voting Rights, Civil Rights, homelessness,disability rights, education and violence against women.


Essay Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act at the Family Justice Center
Location: 400 Harriet Tubman St.
Time: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
More info: Essays accepted from students Feb 28th till April 10th.
Sponsored by National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees Local406. Contact Vivian Underwood Shipe, President NAPFE Local 406 at865-617-8353 or 

FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2015

Home of the Brave  - The Viola Liuzzo Story at East Tennessee History Center
Location: 601 S. Gay St.
6 p.m., popcorn & soft drinks provided
More info: 
Viola Fauver Gregg Liuzzo (April 11, 1925-March 25, 1965) was a Unitarian Universalist civil rights activist from Michigan. In March 1965 Liuzzo, then a housewife and mother of 5 with a history of local activism, heeded the call of Martin Luther King Jr and traveled from Detroit, Michigan to Selma, Alabama in the wake of the Bloody Sunday attempt at marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Liuzzo participated in the successful Selma to Montgomery marches and helped with coordination and logistics. Driving back from a trip shuttling fellow activists to the Montgomery airport, she was shot dead by members of the Ku Klux Klan. She was 39 years old. 


"Let Us March on Ballot Boxes" Keynote Speaker Joanne Bland at the Beck Cultural Exchange
Location: 1927 Dandridge Ave.
Time: 6 p.m., refreshments 5:30 p.m.
More info: Bland began her civil rights activism in the early 60s. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activists organized Bland and other area children and teenagers to participate in the civil rights movement. In the front lines of the struggle, the young Bland marched on "Bloody Sunday" and "Turn Around Tuesday," and the first leg of the successful March from Selma to Montgomery, witnessing brutal beatings of fellow marchers by police.  By the time she was 11 years old Bland had been arrested 13 times. Ms. Bland’s early involvement in the struggle against “Jim Crow,” American apartheid, has been the foundation for her civil and human rights work throughout her life. Sally Liuzzo Prado (daughter of Viola Liuzzo) has a special part in the program.


Eighth of August Jubilee by Beck Cultural Exchange Center
Location:  First United Presbyterian Church Historic Cemetery at Knoxville College and at Chilhowee Park at 3301 E Magnolia Ave
Time: To be announced at
More info: Beck Cultural Exchange Center will celebrate its 40-Year Anniversary with its inaugural “Eighth of August Jubilee” celebration at Chilhowee Park. The day will kick off with a Libation Ceremony at the First United Presbyterian Church Historic Cemetery at Knoxville College, the burial site of former slaves owned by Tennessee Military Governor, Andrew Johnson, freed on Aug. 8, 1863, the date that became known as Emancipation Day throughout the region. The celebration will then continue at Chilhowee Park with family-friendly activities throughout the day. For more info please visit