Lois Marie DeBerry was born in Memphis, TN on May 5, 1945, the second of the five siblings to Samuel DeBerry and the former Mary Page. Her father was a self-employed trucker. She graduated from Hamilton High School in Memphis, 1962.
During the 1960s, Lois DeBerry was involved in the civil rights movement. She participated in the August 28, 1963, March on Washington, student sit-ins, and a Selma to Montgomery march in 1965.
In 1971, she graduated from LeMoyne-Owen College with a B.A. degree in elementary education.
DeBerry became a candidate for public office in 1972 after becoming disillusioned by her experiences …
She was a candidate for the state House of Representatives following the 1970 census. With support from U.S. Rep. Harold Ford, Sr., she defeated the four male candidates, and took office in the 88th Tennessee General Assembly that was convened in 1973.
She had represented the 91st district until her death. In addition to serving on numerous House committees, including the House Calendar and Rules Committee; and the House Government Operations Committee, she was also chair of the Special Committee to Study Integration of Ex-Offenders into Mainstream of Society, a member of the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Reform Commission, and a member of the Governor’s Minority Business Development Advisory Committee.
Rep. DeBerry served as President of National Black Caucus of State Legislators from 1994 to 1999 … where she pushed for a focus on international policy in Africa and elsewhere around the world.
She was the President Emeritus of National Black Caucus of State Legislators. In 1976, Rep. DeBerry had joined with a handful of other black legislators to push for the formation of an official group of Black State Legislators. NBCSL was born in Nashville, TN in 1977 where our first ever national convention was held thanks to the hard work of Rep. DeBerry and others.
National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women (NOBEL-Women) also mourns the lost of it’s founder, former national vice president, and one of their most influential leaders, Rep. Lois DeBerry. NOBEL national president, Senator Sharon Weston Broome of Louisiana, said, “Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of Rep. Lois DeBerry. Rep. DeBerry was a friend, and mentor to many of the women of NOBEL and will be greatly missed.
“We would also like to offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends. Be comforted in knowing that her spirit and valor will live on in each of us as we continue to be a global voice for the voiceless.”
NOBEL-Women is a non-profit, non-partisan national organization originally established in 1985 to increase and promote the presence of black women in government. To learn more about NOBEL-Women please visit www.nobel-women.org.
She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the William Bulger Award for Legislative Leadership, National Conference of State Legislators.
DeBerry married Charles Traughber, chairman of the Tennessee state parole board, in 1981. She had one child from a previous marriage.