Mayors, Mayors, We Got Mayors, Yes We Do

Faith Coalition Event for AIDS education, Market Square, Knoxville, March 2011
Market Square for most of its history has served as a forum for many different and widely divergent groups desiring to express a message of one sort or another. In the short time I’ve written this blog I’ve chronicled gatherings of members of the healing arts, LGBT advocates, anti-abortion proponents and so on. Sometimes the crowds are large, sometimes only a small circle of supporters appear and often no one pays any particular attention to the people making proclamations or speeches.

On a recent evening the response to those gathered on the stage at Market Square was, to say the very least, minimal. I think I may have been the only person watching as facts were read by famous and semi-famous local notables. Startling to my ears was the relatively straight-forward manner in which they read facts related to the AIDS epidemic.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Market Square, Knoxville, March 2011

Current Knoxville mayor Daniel Brown, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and prospective Mayor Madeline Rogero each read from prepared texts to no one in general or, more accurately, to me as I took their pictures. It was somewhat jarring to hear Madeline Rogero say the words “vaginal intercourse” in public – not that I’ve ever heard her say them in private. Mayor Burchett’s text seemed much more conservative and I suspected that was by design.

The event included drummers from Austin East High School (who I unfortunately missed), signs placed throughout the square giving information about the AIDS epidemic and booths offering further information regarding testing and related issues. The organization behind the effort was the Faith Coalition working out of the Knox County Health Department.

Mayoral Candidate Madeline Rogero, Market Square, Knoxville, March 2011

I’m not ready to give the UrbanGuy endorsement to Madeline Rogero, but I’ll say that I run into her often at the various downtown events I attend and that makes me view her more favorably. Maybe our common interests mean she sees the world in similar terms. Or maybe it means I’m often where the crowds appear and she is campaigning, still I haven’t see Marylin Roddy around town. I’ve seen Madeline at the R.B. Morris/Marshall Chapman concert at the Laurel Theater, Waynestock at the Relix, Pecha Kucha at the West Jackson Workshops and now talking about sex on Market Square. I’m just saying she may be the one for me.

It was interesting to see such an event coming on the heels of Knox County expelling Planned Parenthood from the classroom because a parent group complained that they mentioned their website which had links to definitions of sexual acts of which the parents did not approve. The group is also wanting to be sure that this organization does not provide any training for teachers who will  now be charged with providing sex education in the schools.

Knoxville Mayor Brown, Market Square, Knoxville, March 2011

So, we’re concerned about AIDS, but more concerned about who talks about it and which links may be on their website. Still, on this evening when no children were present, we acknowledged that we have a problem that encouraging abstinence does not seem to be successfully addressing.

Mayoral Trifecta, Burchett, Rogero, Brown, Knoxville, March 2011