The Boots Blog

The Boots Blog hosts remarks by Sylvia Peters, Knoxville resident, community leader, educator, art collector and Days of Dialogue: A Southern City Speaks organizer. 

Learning More about Each Other
March 23, 2023

Tuesday evening, March 21, 2023, the boots and I went to the historic Bijou Theatre to participate in Days of Dialogue: A Southern City Speaks~Knoxville, TN. Our journey was amazing and we were proud to be a part of such a special occasion. Years ago, the Bijou was segregated and African Americans entered through a special door on the side of the facility and were seated in a balcony high above the stage. The theatre eventually became one of the first public spaces in Tennessee to desegregate and people of various backgrounds sat side by side to see the shows. 

Tuesday evening, the staff of the Bijou worked their technical magic and the program was inspiring, magical and a real boost to the notion that if we spend time together, we can learn more about each other. Hundreds of people filled the main floor and were treated to a presentation that was filled with joy, great music and wise words about race in America. The Knoxville Opera Gospel Choir, directed by Jeanie Melton, was spectacular. The boots were excited to support me as I spoke to the audience about the wise words of Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, who wrote: “An organized lie has more power than a disorganized truth.”  

I was happy to see so many friends, neighbors and Ascension Church members at the Bijou on Tuesday. Michael Fosberg, playwright and actor, performed Incognito, his very own My Story. It’s his discovery at age 30-something that his father was a light-skinned African American. It’s the second time that Michael has visited Knoxville. We’re grateful for his willingness to tell us his story because it helps us to begin our dialogues with each other. If you’re interested in learning how to establish a Days of Dialogue group, please visit our home page.

Women of Courage
February 17, 2023

This evening the boots and I went to the Beck Cultural Exchange Center at the request of the President, Rev. Reneé Kesler. It was an extremely wonderful and eye-opening experience; my soul was stirred by what it means to be courageous and determined when the subject doesn’t matter. As people living in a free society, we have forgotten the kind of responsibility required to be free. Since 1619, we have struggled with what it means to live in a country where many are not free. Tonight I met women who are quietly demanding, through very simple actions, to be respectfully free and move about Knoxville without recrimination. In Knoxville, that feeling of freedom is a struggle.

My friend, Ms. Kesler, assigned me the task of greeting people at the sign-in desk. I recognized Dr. Dasha Lundy, our courageous Knox County Commissioner, immediately when she entered. Tears welled up in my eyes, for I knew that I was looking at a person who was responding through her elected seat to the concerns of our people WHO ARE TIRED of being judged by the color of our skin rather than the content of our character. I rose and hugged her and felt the quietness of her soul. Her spirit exuded this message: “My job is simply to ask questions about why: why we as a people continue to be tossed around like sacks of indistinguishable flotsam?” Even more disturbing is that Commissioner Lundy is representing the cause of a young female in our community who has been treated like a child in bondage rather than a lovely young lady. As I listened to the audience thoughtfully respond to President Kesler’s questions, I was struck by the fact that most of the respondents were African Americans. In Knoxville, the answer to this problem may be solved when all who believe in the cause of Commissioner Lundy shall have the courage to ask: why do we have a County Sheriff and County police who feel that they can be so disrespectful to the African American people in this community? Their disrespect is an example of off-the-books systemic racism, which is just as divisive and malicious as on-the-books systemic racism. It’s all painful and spiritually draining.  

So the cute boots took me to a wonderful space this evening to meet young women of courage. DAYS OF DIALOGUE: A SOUTHERN CITY SPEAKS~Knoxville, TN will soon be teaching folks how to speak to one another with compassion and courage…like Commissioner Lundy and Reverend Kesler.

These boots are made for stepping, even at 84.

Cute Boots: Finding Confidence to Approach Uncomfortable Subjects
February 16, 2023

The former UN Ambassador from South Carolina is demanding that politicians 75+ should take mental competency tests…It’s not a good idea and just represents one more repressive notion to add to the list of inappropriate measures that are already swirling through the national consciousness.

Here’s a picture I want to share with you about cute boots, who should wear them, and why I don’t care. I bought these cuties two years ago and decided they were inappropriate for my age. I tried to give them away…no takers. Finally, a few weeks ago, I put them on my feet and can be seen in stores, church and other places doing my daily things wearing these cute boots that support my ankles and arches so well that I feel confident doing what I do. I’ll be 85 years old in 6 months.

Watch for announcements about Days of Dialogue: A Southern City Speaks in Knoxville, TN. I’ll be wearing my cute boots and talking to you about not-so-cute things and interviewing people who are willing to take on not-so-cute subjects in a manner that’ll make you dialogue with your neighbors, friends and folks you don’t know about uncomfortable subjects. You might even put on a pair of cute boots.