NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Tennessee's black lawmakers are looking for their next leader after the loss of longtime Rep. Lois DeBerry.
DeBerry was the first female speaker pro tempore in the House and the second African-American woman to serve in the Legislature. More than anything, she drew respect from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
The Memphis Democrat's death from cancer in July has left a void in the Legislative Black Caucus. Its members now wait to see who among them will step up.
Just 15 of the 132 lawmakers in the Tennessee General Assembly are black: three in the Senate and 12 in the House. All are Democrats.
They say their low numbers and the fact that Republicans control the Legislature makes it a challenge for black lawmakers to effectively represent their districts.