Karen Camper

Lee signs proclamation declaring Rosa Parks Day in Tennessee

Gov. Bill Lee sits in a bus at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis after signing a proclamation declaring Rosa Parks Day in Tennessee on Dec. 1, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee traveled to Memphis on Sunday to sign a proclamation declaring Rosa Parks Day in Tennessee. The bill to honor Parks on the anniversary of her 1955 arrest for refusing to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Ala., was sponsored by Sen. Raumesh Akbari and Rep. Karen Camper (both D-Memphis).

Lee called Parks “an inspiring human being, who did so much for so many, so [I’m] proud to be working with the legislature today to honor her.”

Lee got into hot water last summer over signing a proclamation honoring slave trader and Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, as required by a state law dating back to 1969. Lee has said he hopes to change that law next legislative session.

Parks is a better example of historical figures the state’s should be honoring with proclamations, Lee told reporters Sunday.

“It’s important that we recognize folks who have made major contributions for civil rights in this country and to change the trajectory for civil rights,” Lee said.

“Whenever we can make proclamations about inspiring individuals who are to be celebrated — and that’s someone who is celebrated by everyone  — that’s the  kind of thing we need to be doing in this state.”

 

Camper elected minority leader in Tennessee House

Rep. Karen Camper (D-Memphis) speaks tp reporters on Nov. 25, 2018, after her elected as House minority leader. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Fellow Democrats have elected state Rep. Karen Camper of Memphis to be the House minority leader for the 111th General Assembly. Camper is the first African-American to be elected the chamber’s Democratic leader.

Camper will also be the Democrats’ nominee for speaker. The Army veteran has served in the House since 2008.

Camper defeated Reps. Bo Mitchell of Nashville and Johnnie Shaw of Bolivar for 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,” she said in a statement.

Rep. Mike Stewart of Nashville was unopposed in his re-election as Democratic caucus chair. Democrats hold 26 of the 99 seats in the House.

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