Oak Ridge, Tenn. – The Oak Ridge Chapter of Blacks in Government (BIG) is sponsoring the 26th Annual BIG Scholarship Luncheon on Tuesday, February 18 at 11:30 a.m. at the Y-12 New Hope Center. The event is open to the public, and tickets are on sale for $15. Proceeds from ticket sales along with private and corporate donations fund scholarships for local high school seniors based on their academic excellence or financial need. 

This year’s theme of “African Americans and the Vote” focuses on the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment being adopted into the U.S. Constitution. The amendment ensures citizens of the United States are not denied the right to vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Rev. Dr. Charles Lomax, Jr. is the keynote speaker for the event. Dr. Lomax, a Knoxville native, serves as the senior pastor for St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Alcoa, Tennessee and the director of the Community Empowerment Division for the City of Knoxville. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in political science from the University of Tennessee, a Master of Divinity from the Morehouse School of Religion, and a Doctor of Ministry with a focus on leadership and community witness from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

In addition to the keynote address, the event includes a special performance by Austin-East Magnet High School Drum and Dance Company and a delicious meal. The menu includes fried and baked chicken; smothered pork chops; macaroni and cheese; fried corn; green beans with potatoes; rolls; and deserts.  A vegetarian option will also be available.

Anyone interested in attending can purchase tickets at the door or by contacting local BIG members Tanisha Smith-Wimes (576-1025), Angela Threat (576-0907), or Vanna Gaffney (576-4452). 

BIG is a non-profit organization that has been in existence since 1975. It was established to provide aid in a national response to the needs of African Americans in public service, to organize around issues of mutual concern, and to use the organization’s collective strength to confront workplace and community issues. BIG strives to promote equality in all aspects of American life and excellence in public service.