Rep. Karen Camper becomes first African American, first African American woman named House Minority Leader

Rep. Karen D. Camper

The Tennessee House Democratic Caucus has elected its leadership positions for the upcoming 111th General Assembly of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Rep. Karen Camper of Memphis was named House Minority Leader. Camper is the first African American and the first African American woman to hold the position.

“I am honored by the faith the Caucus has shown in me and I pledge to bring the type of aggressive leadership needed to advance legislation that promotes the Democratic agenda, such as quality health care and economic opportunities for all Tennesseans,” said Camper.

Camper replaces House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley. Fitzhugh, who lost in the Democratic Gubernatorial primary to Karl Dean, will retire after serving more than two decades in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Leader Camper was also chosen to be the Democratic nominee for the Speaker of the House position and Rep. Bo Mitchell of Nashville will be the Democratic nominee for House Speaker Pro Tempore. Rep. Mike Stewart of Nashville will retain his position as Democratic Caucus Chair.

Other positions elected were as follows:
· Minority Leader Pro Tempore—Rep. John DeBerry of Memphis
· Assistant Minority Leader—Rep. Rick Staples of Knoxville
· Minority Whip—Rep. Jason Powell of Nashville
· Minority Floor Leader—Rep. Harold Love, Jr. of Nashville
· Caucus Vice-Chair—Rep. Antonio Parkinson of Memphis
· Caucus Secretary—Rep. London Lamar of Memphis
· Caucus Treasurer—Rep. Vincent Dixie of Nashville

Former State Rep. Turner honored by Tennessee ACLU

TN State Rep. Johnnie Turner

In addition to the above, Reps. Bill Beck and Darren Jernigan of Nashville and Rep. Larry Miller of Memphis were elected to fill the three House Democratic positions on the Joint Fiscal Review Committee.

Former Tennessee State Rep. Johnnie Turner was honored in a ceremony on Thursday night by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee at the Noah Liff Opera Center in Nashville. Rep. Turner recently retired from the Tennessee General Assembly after eight years. Prior to that, she served as the long-time executive director of the Memphis Chapter of the NAACP.

Turner has a long history of civil rights work including participating in sit-ins and marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Turner is also one of the few Americans present at both Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech during the 1963 March on Washington and his ‘I Have Been to the Mountaintop’ speech at Mason Temple in Memphis the night before his assassination in 1968. As a state representative, she championed numerous issues including education equality, voter restoration, LGBTQ equality, criminal justice reform and crafted and sponsored legislation that created the Tennessee Civil Rights Crimes Information, Reconciliation and Research Center. Community advocate Sally Levine was also honored at the event.