Nashville post office renamed for the late Sen. Thelma Harper

Thelma Harper Post Office
Posted at 5:08 PM, Jan 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-06 21:48:25-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — When a child loses their parent, missing their presence never truly goes away.

"I talk to her endlessly. Sometimes I can even feel her spirit," said Linda Harper.

That's true, even if your mother's role in politics was bigger than her varied and vivacious hats.

The late State Senator Thelma Harper was the first Black woman to be elected to the Tennessee Senate and the longest serving — retiring in 2018 after 28 years on Capitol Hill.

"When I think about all that we have done, there’s still some more that I still could do," said Sen. Harper on her last day in office.

So when she passed away in 2021, it didn't take long for people to brainstorm ways to honor her legacy.

"But at that time, when you’re going through the grieving process, it really didn’t quite register but I never thought again about it," said her daughter Linda.

That is until Congress and the President of the United States got involved.

On the very street Harper helped rename after Civil Rights hero Rosa Parks sits the newly renamed Thelma Harper Post Office.

"We’re just pleased and thrilled. You just can’t make this stuff up," said Linda. "I mean literally I cried. I literally cried. They were tears of joy. I just didn’t see it going all the way."

Choosing the location at 2245 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. wasn't just a coincidence.

"This is her post office," explained Linda.

She says it's fitting that the resolution passed with support from all of Tennessee's representatives and senators — from both sides of the aisle.

"She was a true blue Democrat, we’re not going to take that, but one thing I can say, is she was one that worked and reached across the aisles," said Linda.

And if there was any doubt that many more people loved her mother beyond just their family, consider that message delivered.

"It’s just such a tribute, it really is," said Linda. "It just means thank you, Sen. Harper, for all the work that you did do."

A formal dedication of the Thelma Harper Post Office is expected later this year.

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