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2012 CCI Diversity Banquet

2012 Diversity Award Winner, Avon Rollins, Sr.

On Friday, March 2, over 150 UT faculty, staff, students and community members braved the weather to attend the 2012 CCI Experience Diversity Banquet. This year’s keynote speaker and CCI Diversity Award winner, Avon W. Rollins, Sr. of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center inspired the audience by recounting his experiences in fighting for equality and challenged everyone to support continued forward movement to effect positive social change.  Rollins wrapped up his speech by relating the stormy evening to the night before Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.  That stormy night in April 1968 was the evening Rev. King gave his famous ‘mountain top’ speech at Mason Temple in Memphis, TN.   The moving conclusion to the speech prompted a standing ovation from the audience. 

Theotis Robinson, Jr., UT vice president for equity and diversity, Hubert Smith, journalist and JEM lecturer, and CCI Dean Mike Wirth  praised Rollins for his many accomplishments in advancing civil rights in Knoxville and throughout the United States as he was presented with the 2012 CCI Diversity Award.

 “Thanks to our many donors, contributors, volunteers and keynote speaker, the evening was a great success,” said Alice Wirth, director of CCI’s Diversity Student Leaders Society.  “The many hours of hard work put in by our DSLS students and CCI faculty and staff volunteers, allowed us to raise over $3,300 for the CCI Diversity and Inclusion Program.”   

The CCI Diversity Student Leaders Society was established in 2007, to provide an open and accepting community within the College of Communication and Information for students of all backgrounds, races, genders, cultures, religions and sexual orientations. DSLS provides students with equitable and high quality educational experiences and promotes understanding and mutual respect by moving beyond simple tolerance to embrace and celebrate the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual. Donations to the CCI Diversity Student Leaders Society in support of the college’s Diversity and Inclusion Program can be made by contacting Alice Wirth at