Senator Thelma Harper

NASHVILLE, TN — “To my constituents in the 19th Senatorial District & the great citizens of Tennessee.  Today I make my official announcement that I will not seek re-election to the 19th Senatorial District in the upcoming election in August.   Even though there is no greater honor than being able to serve and be your voice ”On the Hill”, I truly feel the time is right for me to pass the baton to the next generation of future leaders.

Even though I will no longer be an elected public servant, I will continue to serve and work in the community to help those in need.  I will also continue to have my “Kids Are Special Too” Annual Easter Egg Hunt.

I have been so fortunate and blessed that you have voted and elected me to serve you for over 35 years: 27 years in the Tennessee State Senate, 8 years in the Metro Council and 2 years as Executive Committee Woman.  Over the years many of you have volunteered, walk door to door, made phone calls & donated your time & efforts to ensure our voice was heard.  Your efforts allowed me to become the first African-American female elected to the Tennessee State Senate which led me to be the first African American Woman to preside over the Senate and the longest serving female State Senator in Tennessee History.  More importantly, it allowed me the opportunity to sponsor and pass laws that were important to you.

Together, we have accomplished more than I could have ever expected.   I am especially proud to have been a voice to our most vulnerable and being able to pass meaningful legislation regarding women, children and the elderly. Being able to foster economic development within the 19th Senate District and the passage of numerous amendments to state budgets to benefit the citizens and local colleges within our community was always a focus. I am also proud of my early efforts in working with the community  to close the Bordeaux Dump and changing the name of one our roads to Rosa Parks Blvd. in honor of the Mother of Civil Rights. All of this fueled my dedication to politics and public service.

I would like to thank all of my colleagues and elected officials throughout the years for your collaboration and support.  I sincerely want to thank my staff and all of the interns throughout the years. They truly understood the meaning of “constituent service” regardless of the type of service our citizens needed.  Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank my loving family for joining me on this journey.  We are excited about our next journey and look forward to continual service to our community.”

Forever “Your” Senator,

Thelma Harper, 19th

Senatorial District, TN


“Even before she was elected to the Senate, Thelma Harper was working to make the lives of Nashvillians better. I’ve served with many members and none have had more compassion and strength of will than Thelma Harper. She has consistently broken down barriers throughout her career without ever breaking a sweat. She has been a credit to Nashville and a most distinguished member of the Senate. Her hand is consistently extended in friendship toward those she serves and those she serves with. She has truly left Tennessee and the Senate better than she found it. We will miss her in the Senate.”                         —  Lt. Governor McNally

“Senator Harper is a Tennessee treasure. Her service in the Senate and to our state is surpassed only by her dedication to her community and constituents. She will be missed but never forgotten.”

—    Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris 

“Many times we speak of statesmen in the General Assembly, but Senator Harper reflects that image for me and many others on both sides of the aisle. She has represented her constituents with great honor and distinction, and she will be truly missed.”

— Senator Bill Ketron

“There has been no greater champion for children and young adults in Tennessee than Senator Harper. She has blazed so many trails for so many people that her legacy will last for decades to come. I am grateful to have been blessed to serve with her in the TN General Assembly.”

— Rep. Harold M. Love, Jr.