Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

Nashville Leaders and Community Remember Pioneer Edith Taylor Langster

By meerna Jul11,2024
Nashville Leaders and Community Remember Pioneer Edith Taylor Langster

NASHVILLE, TN — One of Nashville’s pioneering figures, Edith Taylor Langster, died June 30. She was 75.

Langster’s memorial service was held July 6 at St. Ann Catholic Church. Several dignitaries and community leaders gathered to honor her life, in which she dedicated more than two decades of public service. She was praised as a pioneer in breaking the glass ceiling and becoming Nashville’s first female and black patrol officer in the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.

“Edith Taylor Langster was, quite simply, a pioneer of public service in Nashville. Her work as the first female patrol officer in our city in 1974 helped set a career standard that other women can emulate, even today,” said MNPD Chief of Police John Drake.

Langster began working as a dispatcher for MNPD in 1972, at a time when female officers were limited to administrative “desk” positions. Shortly after Tennessee ratified the Equal Rights Amendment by passing Joint Resolution 371, which prohibited sexual discrimination, she quickly challenged the status quo and enrolled in Metro’s Police Training Academy, graduating in six months. This accomplishment made her the first female and first African-American woman in the Patrol Division. She later moved on to Youth Services and the Intelligence Division.

Taylor once said, “As a police officer with the Metro Police Department, I had the opportunity to protect and serve the citizens of Nashville and Davidson County. The police department shaped me and prepared me for the future of my life.”

Langster left MNPD in 1982, but that did not end her distinguished career in public service. She soon turned her attention to politics and was elected to the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County, representing District 20 from 1991 to 1995. Her second elected term on the Council was from 2007 to 2015, representing District 21. During her time on the Council, she served as Chair of Public Works and served on the Budget and Finance, Convention, Tourism and Public Entertainment Facilities, and Federal Grants Review Committees.

In between her time on the Council, she also ran for state representative, winning her seat in District 54 from 1995 to 2006. At the state level, she has served as chair of the House Local Government Subcommittee, vice chair of the House Local and State Government Committee, former assistant majority whip, and as a member of the House Consumer and Labor Affairs Committee, House Rules Committee, House Elections Subcommittee, House Consumer Affairs Subcommittee, House State Government Subcommittee, Joint Selective Lottery Oversight Committee, and the Tennessee Joint Educational Lottery Corporation.

“After leaving the police force, Edith was an incredibly strong advocate for our community in the Metro Council and the State Legislature,” Drake said. “She cared deeply about people and wanted to help solve quality-of-life issues, often drawing on her roots in law enforcement to get things done. Edith was an example to many. I am grateful for her dedication to Nashville and the extraordinary life she led.”

Langster was a true advocate for her community, pushing for equal opportunity for minority businesses and access to services. She was also instrumental in gaining support and zoning updates necessary to bring the Tennessee Titans to Nashville.

In addition, Langster had an extensive background in community involvement. She was a member of the Davidson County Democratic Women’s Club, the North Nashville Organization for Community Improvement, Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and the Tennessee State University Alumni Association. She was also a past delegate to the Democratic National Convention, served as vice chair of the Davidson County Democratic Delegation, was a life member of the NAACP, a past member of the Nashville Symphony Board, and joined TriStar Centennial Medical Center’s Board of Trustees in 2014 for a three-year term.

“Mrs. Edith Taylor Langster was a dedicated Nashville public servant and will be greatly missed by our community. As a supportive Nashville resident, she will be remembered for her integrity, her compassion as a community activist, her strong and vibrant voice for those seeking equality under the law, and her love for her alma mater, Tennessee State University,” said Sandra D. H. Hunt, president of the Nashville Capitol City Chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc., of which Langster was a member. “She epitomized female leadership. Her dedication to her family, Top Ladies of Distinction and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. will be missed.”

In 1997, she joined Mary B. Conner as co-chair of the first-ever AKA Day on the Hill, drawing over 100 members from various Alpha Kappa Alpha chapters to the Tennessee State Capitol. The event was later adopted by the entire Southeast Region of the sorority and at the international level of the sorority.

“We are all saddened by the passing of our sister, Edith Taylor Langster. She was respected as a strong advocate for our community and a fierce fighter for equal rights,” said Mary B. Conner, 25th director of the Southeast Region of Alpha Kappa Alpha and a member of the Nashville Chapter of Kappa Lambda Omega. “When Kappa Lambda Omega launched the first-ever AKA Day on the Hill in Tennessee in 1997, she was right there helping us organize and connect with state elected officials to discuss legislation that directly impacted the communities we serve. Her contributions to our chapter and our sorority will always be remembered.”

Vivian Wilhoite, a Nashville and Davidson County property appraiser, expressed sadness at Langster’s death.

“I am so sad to hear about the loss of The Honorable Edith Taylor Langster, my dear friend and confidante. Many late night conversations about family, politics and just talking about what is going on in and around Nashville,” Wilhoite said.

She added: “Thank you for your courage at a time when women, especially black women, did not have the same opportunities. I am grateful not only to have known you and served with you, but to be able to call you my friend.”

Davidson County Recorder of Deeds Karen Y. Johnson shared her condolences in a July 2 Facebook post, saying, “Our community and our city lost a giant with the passing of Edith Taylor Langster… Rep. Langster helped open doors that all Nashville women in public service, and especially African-American women, were fortunate to walk through. I am one of those who benefited, and I lost a friend.”

A native of Painesville, Ohio, Langster was born on January 31, 1949, but spent most of her childhood in North Nashville. She attended Pearl High School and participated in a college preparatory program at Fisk University. After high school, she went to Tennessee State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in sociology and then pursued graduate studies in counseling and guidance.

Langster received numerous awards and honors throughout her life that recognized her commitment to public service and community involvement. She received the “Award of Appreciation” from the National Black State Trooper Coalition, “Woman of the Year” from the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women, “Award of Recognition” from the Tennessee Center for Labor Management Relations, “African America Women Making A Difference” from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and “Woman of the Year” from Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., to name a few.

She is survived by two adult children, Travis and David, and five grandchildren. Her legacy as a pioneer and dedicated public servant will be remembered and cherished by many.

By meerna

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