The Equal Opportunity Awards Gala

The Gala is our most significant fundraising event of the year. More importantly, it affords us the opportunity to celebrate our Volunteer of the Year, Minority Business, Corporate Leadership and Whitney M. Young Jr. Lifetime Achievement award winners.

And, the evening is always a celebration to remember, with good food and fellowship and top-flight music provided by acts such as Jeffrey Osborne, The Whispers, The Spinners, The Temptations, The O’Jays, En Vogue, Boney James, Morris Day & The Time, James “JT” Taylor, formerly the voice of Kool & The Gang, and Tower of Power!

The Gala also provides an excellent opportunity for networking with top area business professionals, and an investment in a corporate table is a good investment for local businesses.

The Equal Opportunity Awards Gala is a lot of fun, and we hope to see you there! Held the fourth Thursday of October each year, the gala is a must-do business event.

2021 Equal Opportunity Awards Gala
Oct. 28, 2021
Knoxville Convention Center

Reception 5:30pm

Dinner, Entertainment and Awards 6:30pm 

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Howard Hewett

Performing live will be Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and former lead vocalist of award winning R&B group Shalamar, Howard Hewett!

2021 Gala COVID-19 Protocols

Our COVID-19 protocols for the 2021 Equal Opportunity Awards Gala will mirror those in place at local event venues. Masks are required unless actively eating or drinking. Guests will be required to show proof of vaccination or results of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to the event. For sponsored tables, please provide the information to your table hosts. Individual ticketholders may email vaccination proof to or show proof of a negative test at the check in table on the day of the event. Thank you for helping us ensure the safety of all guests.


Sponsorships and Donations

Fundraising is critical to the Urban League’s ability to provide programs and services to the community. Gala sponsorship is an important part of our fundraising. Sponsors include a diverse group of corporate, government and community leaders, providing prime exposure opportunities for your organization. Sponsors also are recognized on video screens, during the awards program and in our souvenir program. Contact us at 865-524-5511 to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of so many through your support, or you may choose to simply make a donation below.

Click here for Sponsorship form

2021 Equal Opportunities Award Gala Tickets

We’re pleased to offer online tickets this year! Select your ticket below to purchase via PayPal. If you need special accommodations (vegetarian meal, accessibility) please email and we would be happy to accommodate you.

Individual200.00 USD1 Ticket
Table for Ten (Sponsorship)2000.00 USD10 Tickets
Cannot attend but would like to donate.100.00 USDDonation
Your ticket and order confirmation will be emailed to you after payment to your email address.

Corporate Leadership

Recognizes a company, governmental agency or entity that has shown sensitivity to diversity, employment trends and/or special program involvement and support of the Urban League and its mission.


2019: Debi Welch, Covenant Health

2017: Mintha Roach, Knoxville Utilities Board
2016: Mayor Madeline Rogero, City of Knoxville
2015: Randy Boyd, TN Commissioner of Economic & Community Development
2014: Pinnacle Financial Partners

Minority Business

Recognizes a minority-owned business that has made an economic as well as a social impact in the community.


2019: Gam's Hair Fashions, Gary Gamble

2017:  B&B Services Inc., Baffin Harper
2016: Jarnigan & Son Mortuary, Beal Bourne
2015: East Tennessee Mechanical Contractors
2014: Marc Nelson Denim

Volunteer of the Year

Salutes an individual who has made a significant impact on the programs and services of the Knoxville Area Urban League and the community.


2019: John Nolan, Truist (SunTrust Bank)

2017: Dr. Joseph Kendrick

2016: Sanford Smith
2015: National Achievers Society Advisory Committee
2014: Nicholas Jones, Lonnie Jones Insurance

Whitney M. Young, Jr. Lifetime Achievement

The most prestigious of all Urban League Awards, this award is named to honor the fourth executive director of the National Urban League (1961-1971). Mr. Young worked tenaciously to forge new alliances and coalitions to build bridges of understanding among the races.


2019: "The Clinton 12"
2016: Reverend Dr. Gordon and Mrs. Judy Gibson
2015: Theotis Robinson, Jr.
2014: Rita Geier


*2018: 50th Anniversary recognition of all Whitney M. Young Jr. Lifetime Achievement Awardees