State Senator Brenda Gilmore, left, and Attorney Keeda Haynes

By Rosetta Miller-Perry, Publisher/CEO
The Tennessee Tribune

NASHVILLE, TN — Nashville’s Black community has had stellar political representation for decades, with Blacks who sought office not to feather their pockets or enhance their social status, but to serve and aid those in need, and continue the battle for social justice and equality in the great state of Tennessee. Whether it was established figures like the Hon. Senator Avon Williams and the Hon. Senator Thelma Harper and also the students from American Baptist College, Tennessee State and  Fisk Universities who took on the forces of state sanctioned segregation during the sit-ins and created a legacy with dignity and courage.

Unfortunately, in the current political environment, Senator Brenda Gilmore is the only Black female political hack whose intentions are more aligned with victory than personal conviction. Selecting a sorority sister in secret, who speaks often about surviving in a prison atmosphere.  With this badge of honor she is ready to challenge many of our most esteemed Black politicians who have been in the trenches with us all these years. They  have aided the overall growth and progress of the Nashville community. 

I grieve that Senator Brenda Gilmore, in one extremely questionable, unethical and dubious move, tarnished her legacy of service in both  the   General Assembly and the Metro Council where she began her political career.

Gilmore’s handpicked successor is Attorney Keeda Haynes, who now looks like the worst type of Black female stalking horse opportunist and the Senator is guilty at least of bad political tactics, or worse, attempting to fix an election.  

First, Gilmore  delayed her announcement until the 11th hour, which left several potential candidates unsure of what to do out of respect for the Senator who had no respect for them or the citizens who have kept her in office.  This announcement should have been made weeks ago. Instead Senator Brenda Gilmore at the last minute, so no other candidate could enter the race,   simultaneously anointed her best friend  and Delta Sigma Theta sorority sister as her successor. Second, Keeda Haynes, who is no stranger to the Tennessee Tribune,  has every right as a private citizen to run for office and I applaud her. But what Keeda should not want is what she has claimed happen  to her before going to   prison – “unfairness and chicanery.”  She should want to win as the best candidate, not by shenanigans  or as someone’s  anointed candidate whom she may be beholden to at future date.

Senator Gilmore has done some commendable things during her time in the legislature, but with this one  woefully slick undercover move,   tarnishes all of her public service work for Metro and the state of Tennessee. She now looks  a lot more like the typical political hack who operates behind closed doors and never does anything that will benefit anyone other than a select circle of  sorority friends. I know more about Brenda’s  Red Hat Society and 100 Black women than I know about any of the Bills she has recommended to benefit Nashville.

There’s an easy solution to all of this. Senator Gilmore must recant either the resignation or endorsement. If she truly wants and intends to resign, then she should call for a full and freely open election for that seat. There was no reason for her to do what she did under cover. If she wanted to resign, that announcement should have been made months ago. It’s not like she  woke up   early one morning and said I’m calling it quits. 

This  stench is a  prearranged sweetheart deal between Senator Gilmore and Keeda Haynes. Certainly the Tribune can’t prove that’s the case, and there is no doubt  it will be denied. (it was on Facebook before pulled), but in this case,  perception may not be the reality, but the stink will be there in perpetuity.

There have been many proud days in the history of Black politics in Nashville, and Senator Brenda Gilmore had a few contributions.   But this latest move over shadows those contributions and isn’t something anyone should be applauding. It is unethical and a disgrace, and the Tennessee Tribune calls upon Senator Gilmore to undo the damage immediately so Blacks and whites can have a free, open and uncontrolled  and non-anointed Senatorial District 19 election.  If this was a white female legislator doing the same unethical scheme, Senator Gilmore  would be calling her unethical and racist.

This is the worst political skulduggery since the 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed.