After 26 years in office, lawmaker faces the fight of his political life.
By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle
As a teen, longtime Tennessee state Rep. John DeBerry Jr. integrated an all-White high school and witnessed civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.’s final speech before his 1968 assassination.
To supporters, DeBerry — a 69-year-old Black preacher from Memphis — is a man of high integrity and strong moral convictions based on his Christian faith.
But to opponents, including Planned Parenthood, the LGBTQ Victory Fund and the Tennessee Democratic Party’s executive committee, the 13-term incumbent is an out-of-touch relic. In their view, DeBerry’s conservative positions on issues such as abortion, gay rights and school choice make him unfit to remain in office.
“I tell people all the time when they talk to me: It’s not about the elephant. It’s not about the donkey. It’s about the Lamb,” said DeBerry, who has preached nearly every Sunday since 1968 and served as the minister for the Coleman Avenue Church of Christ in Memphis for the last 20 years.
The widowed father and grandfather makes no secret that he believes life begins at conception.
That, he contends, is not a Republican stand.
“It is a biblical stand,” he told The Christian Chronicle in a lengthy, wide-ranging interview. “It is a moral stand. It is an ethical stand.”
This story appears in the September edition of The Christian Chronicle.