Thelma Harper Post Office Building

Floor Speech

Date: July 12, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COOPER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask support for H.R. 5271, my bill to name this Nashville Post Office for a great friend of mine and a great friend of all Tennesseans, the late State Senator Thelma Harper.

Thelma was many things. She was a beloved public servant. She was the first African American to be elected to the Tennessee State senate, and she was the first female African American to be elected to the Tennessee Senate. She was the longest-serving female State senator in all of Tennessee history.

Her nearly four decades of public service were marked by her tireless service on behalf of her constituents. She started in the city council, and she helped fight a toxic landfill in her community of Bordeaux.

She then moved to the State senate, and she continued to fight for average people in Nashville, Tennessee. She served in the State senate until 2018, and she had a hand in many of Nashville's greatest projects: for example, bringing the Tennessee Titans to our city, the development of Nashville's Music City Center, the downtown public library, and for the National Museum of African American Music.

Thelma Harper was a proud member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, and she served as chair of the Tennessee Commemorative Women's Suffrage Commission.

She is fondly remembered by many for her annual Kids' Are Special Too community Easter egg hunts, which kids delighted in, and which I personally participated in for many years. Those were held continuously and are continued by her family since Thelma passed away in May of 2021.

Most importantly, Thelma was a dear friend who was kind enough to include me in her family. She was a member of many organizations in Nashville, a mentor, a teacher, and a friend. She taught me how to find common ground, even with some tough political adversaries. She saw the best in everyone.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 5271.

Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.