Knoxville is my home. I was born at the University of Tennessee Hospital, and grew up in a lower-middleclass home where my parents went to great ends make ends meet. We started out on Dandridge Avenue in East Knoxville where my educational endeavors began at Green Elementary School prior to it becoming a magnet program, and we ultimately moved West where, after a couple of stops in between, I attended and graduated from Karns High School in 2000.
Admittedly, I have pretty awesome parents. They’ve shaped and molded me to be the man that I am today and for that I will always be grateful. My dad, Charles Sr., is a graduate of Austin East High School and has been employed by Arconic Incorporated (formerly ALCOA Aluminum) for the last seventeen years. My mom, Terri, is a graduate of Fulton High School and has been an employee of the State of Tennessee for the last 25 years. Because of their efforts and sacrifice, I’ve been able to achieve and accomplish everything I’ve sought to do, and have scratched off some “firsts” for our family in the process.
After high school, I attended the University of Tennessee where I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a minor in Political Science. During my freshman year, I felt the call to ministry and preached my initial sermon at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church at the age of 18. Also while a student, I began working for the Knox County Election Commission. This move afforded me the opportunity to see local politics from a different perspective and made me fall in love with the local political process.
Following my graduation from UT, I said “goodbye” to Knoxville and moved to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the Morehouse School of Religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center where I earned a Master of Divinity degree. I initially had no plans to return to Knoxville until the economy upended, I could not find employment, and I was reluctantly forced to return home. Coming home turned out to be a fantastic move because I started working for the Knoxville Leadership Foundation. At KLF I served as the Match and Training Coordinator for Amachi Knoxville where I paired mentors with mentees who had at least one parent incarcerated in state or federal prison. I was also responsible for training each of our mentors and making sure they had the tools to make their match a success.
It was while working at KLF that Mayor Madeline Rogero appointed me as a Commissioner on Knoxville/Knox County Planning (formerly the Metropolitan Planning Commission). Additionally while at KLF, I started pastoring St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Alcoa, which prompted my departure from KLF. I have proudly served in the roll of Senior Pastor at St. John for the last seven years and continue to be encouraged by the work of our members and ministry partners.
Because I am an advocate for education and continued learning, I enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry program at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. I successfully defended my work and graduated in May of 2018. With school behind me, my sights are now set on serving Knoxville on City Council. I am excited about what we can accomplish and I look forward to the journey. I would appreciate your support and look forward to meeting you and hearing your thoughts and ideas about this place we call home.