NASHVILLE, Tennessee – During the announcements portion of the House Floor Session on Thursday, an emergency meeting of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators was called, commencing immediately after session ended.
The announcement was made by the Black Caucus Chair, Representative G. A. Hardaway (D-Memphis), who was elected in January to the position.
According to the Facebook page of the Black Caucus, other newly-elected positions included the following Democrats: Vice Chairman – Rick Staples (Knoxville), Treasurer – Vincent Dixie (Nashville), Secretary – London Lamar (Memphis), Chaplin – John DeBerry (Memphis), Parliamentarian – Jesse Chism (Memphis) and Sergeant at Arms – Antonio Parkinson (Memphis).
According to Hardaway’s emergency meeting announcement, the meeting would be held in Conference Room 4A, which is located on the 4th floor of the Cordell Hull Building, and that pizza would be available.
Prior to all of the members arriving to conference room 4A, The Tennessee Star inquired if the meeting would be open to the public. Caucus Chairman Hardaway responded that the meeting would not be open to the public, but representatives would be available after the meeting to answer questions.
Legislators seen in or entering the 4A conference room (in alphabetical order) were: Senator Raumesh Akbari and Representatives Karen Camper, Jesse Chism, Barbara Cooper, John DeBerry, Vincent Dixie, G. A. Hardaway, Harold Love, Larry Miller, Antonio Parkinson, Rick Staples, Joe Towns, Hakeem Yusuf as well House Democratic Caucus Press Secretary Ken Jobe.
After about an hour and a half behind closed doors, the meeting started to break up with members slowly emerging from the conference room.
Upon his exit, The Star asked Chairman Hardaway if he wanted to comment on the meeting. Hardaway politely declined saying he couldn’t talk about the meeting. Responding to the point made by The Star that calling an emergency meeting from the House floor is pretty attention-grabbing, Chairman Hardaway responded, “Next time, I’ll try not to say emergency.”
“Everything that we talked about, there is nothing I can discuss with you right now. Perhaps next week.”
When asked if there would be a press release coming out about the meeting, Hardaway politely replied, “No, ma’am.”
In January 2019, before the 111th Tennessee General Assembly convened, The Tennessean criticized the super-majority House Republican Caucus for holding a closed meeting, a move it called a “break from the past.”
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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.