A woman who served a quarter century in Tennessee’s state legislature died, House Minority Leader Karen Camper announced Wednesday.
State Rep. Barbara Cooper (D-86th C.D.) was 93 years old when she died.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my longtime colleague and dear friend, Barbara Cooper,” said House Minority Leader Karen Camper. “She was a warrior for her community and the City of Memphis, a tireless advocate on education and equality issues, and just a delightful person. We will all miss her.”
The Associated Press further reported:
Cooper was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1996. She was honored earlier this year as the oldest serving lawmaker in Tennessee recorded history and among the oldest lawmakers across the United States.
In a new release, House Democratic leaders described Cooper as an “unwavering voice for the community of Memphis and advancing the rights of Black Tennesseans.” During her legislative tenure, she formed the Harriet Tubman Legacy Awards to honor Memphians who were committed to uplifting the community.
“Barbara Cooper was feisty and powerful. She spoke her mind and didn’t suffer fools gladly,” Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris tweeted Wednesday. “She was a teacher to everyone she met. Every setting was her classroom. There will never be anyone like Barbara Cooper.”
Cooper was running for reelection. Under Tennessee law, her name will remain on the ballot. Should she win, a special election will be held to fill the vacant seat. She was running against independent candidate Michael Porter.
Survivors include her daughters, Reverend Joan Cooper Burnett and Tanya Cooper; grandchildren Reneshia Burnett, Ashlea Burnett Vainqueur (Willy) and Martez King; great-grandchildren, according to a News Channel 5 report.
“Barbara Cooper was a dedicated public servant who faithfully served the Memphis community,” Republican Governor Bill Lee said in a Twitter post Wednesday. “Maria & I are lifting up her friends & family in prayer.”
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.