Mayor Wayne M. Messam of Miramar, Florida gave the keynote address entitled, “Resilience: Staying focused in Times of Change” at the 13th annual Metro Minority Caucus Reception. The event this year honored trailblazers State Senator Thelma Harper and Former Metro Councilwoman Lois Jordan. The Reception was held on Monday, February 12, at Belmont University’s Ayers Conference Center.
“More than ever, women are reshaping politics, thanks in large part to the contributions made by Senator Harper and Former Councilwoman Jordan,” said Councilwoman-at-Large Sharon Hurt, who is also vice chair of the Minority Caucus. “It is an honor to celebrate these pioneering women at our annual reception this Black History Month.”
Former Councilwoman Lois Jordan was the first woman elected to the position on her own merit, and not to an office vacated by the death of a husband. Councilwoman Jordan, a Democrat, was first elected as representative of District 17 in 1971.
Senator Thelma Harper was the first African-American woman State Senator of Tennessee elected in 1991. She continued to break the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman to preside over the Senate. She is a Democratic member of the Tennessee Senate for the 19th district. Though she celebrated her 25th year in the Senate in 2014, Harper has served as an elected official for almost 35 years, having served for two terms on the Metro Council for District 2 from 1983 through 1991.
“Senator Harper and Dr. Jordan paved the way for the election of women throughout the country and their courage and commitment to improving policies have empowered women for generations to come,” said Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher, treasurer for the Metro Council Minority Caucus Political Action Committee.
TSU President Glenda Glover was recognized by Belmont President Fisher, who noted the recent TSU mens basketball victory over Belmont. Council member-at-large Erica Gilmore, immediate past chair of the Minority Caucus, recognized U.S. Representative Jim Cooper, Mayor Megan Barry, former mayor Karl Dean, Vice-Mayor David Briley, Metro Parks Director Monique Odum, County Clerk Brenda Wynn, Metro General Hospital CEO Joseph Webb, MTA Director Steve Bland, Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson, Judge Angelita Blackshear, Judge Nick Leonardo, incoming IMF head Rev. James Turner, Hispanic Chamber chair Yuri Cunza, Monica Foster of the Nashville Sports Council, Ashford Hughes and Hershel Warren of the Mayor’s Office.
She also recognized many past and present members of the Metro Council, including former members Walter Hunt and Sandra Moore, and present council members Jacobia Dowell (who presented the awards to Jordan and Harper), DeCosta Hastings (who gave the opening prayer / Invocation), Tanaka Vercher (who acknowledged the sponsors), Brenda Haywood (who gave the Benediction/ closing remarks), Ed Kindall, Mina Johnson, Karen Johnson, Fabian Bedne, and other members of the Minority Caucus Brett Withers, Bob Mendes, Freddie O’Connell, Antoinette Lee, and Scott Davis (who was unable to attend due to a family illness emergency). Also present were various candidiates for public office.