Knoxville's first black mayor urges pursuit of dreams

photo Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press Knoxville Mayor Daniel T. Brown, left, talks to Chattanooga Councilman Andrae McGary during a Black History Month at the Historic Lindsay Street Hall. Brown is the first black mayor of Knoxville.

Knoxville Mayor Daniel T. Brown said he remembers in August 1963 when a friend asked him to stop in Washington, D.C., for the March on Washington. Instead he drove through the city the day before the event and listened to it on the radio.

He said it's a decision he regrets.

"I missed one of the most historic events in this country, so ... if there is an event going on, I try to make it," Brown said Thursday.

Brown, Knoxville's first black mayor, was the speaker for the Department of Education, Arts & Culture Remember Your Dream Black History Month program at the Lindsey Street Hall.

The theme of the Black History Month event is "Remember Your Dream."

"We're going to talk about dreams," Brown said.

It was nearly 50 years ago when Dr. Martin Luther King spoke at the March on Washington. He inspired America with the words, "I have a dream."

King was more than a dreamer, he said. The theme of the March on Washington was for jobs and freedom. Fast-forward to today and people still can march for jobs and freedom, Brown said.

His speech also marked the start of Boyz Inc., a boys mentoring program. Interested boys and mentors are asked to meet at the Teen Stack in the downtown Public Library from 4 to 6 p.m. on March 2. The program runs through March 12.

Department of Education, Arts & Culture administrator Missy Crutchfield said she started the program because of the need for more male mentors she saw in her own family.

"I know how I've struggled being a single mom of a male child," she said. "As much as my son loves me and as good as a mom I try to be, there are moments when it's not enough."

She said her son's father is active in his life, but there's a need for more strong male role models to give youths the support and guidance they need to make wise decisions.

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