MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we also Celebrate Memphis and the phenomenal people making a difference right at home.
Tannera Gibson is a woman of many firsts in Memphis. She said her father, Tanner George, left a mark in her life.
“He would say … ’Now is our time.’ And that is, that was his thing,” said Gibson.
The now is life’s greatest gift. It's that span of time that learns from the past while inspiring the future.
“I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was five because I wanted to shorten the school day,” said Gibson.
Her education extended beyond school to home.
“I have eight brothers and sisters,” said Gibson. “I kind of grew up with parents who were always very conscious of issues. I guess we’d characterize as diversity and inclusion issues now.”
Gibson’s father co-founded the Black Business Association in the 80s advocating for economic opportunities and growth for entrepreneurs. He watched his father’s every move.
“I was conscious of, as a little kid, you know, I will call out inequities. I called them out in high school columns … It just, I think, shaped me altogether,” said Gibson.
She began school at Emory University in Atlanta but was not quite on the legal path she’d hoped.
“I just wasn't focused. I’d always … School had always been very easy for me. Now, I'm in this environment where I really have to study. Everybody's smart,” said Gibson. “My father physically came in to remove me from Atlanta to help me course correct.”
It was a course that took time but finally is on track.
“It took me a while to find myself. It took me seven years to finish undergrad. So, I'm big on doing things in your own time. When I finished, it just kept calling me. I was drawn to it,” said Gibson.
She couldn’t escape law. Now a mother, Gibson started law school at the University of Memphis in 2005.
After graduating and beginning her career, she noticed those inequities her parents fought against.
“It was very isolating … My mentors are great, but they are men. They've never been trying to nurse a baby while writing a brief While being the only Black lawyer in your firm, Black female lawyer,” said Gibson. “When I graduated, the Bar Association didn’t feel like it was for me … There are very few people who look like me. There were very few people I felt like I can relate to … very nice people. They're kind people, but it didn't feel inclusive.”
If she’d learned anything from her father, it was that “Now, is our time.”
In 2022, Gibson became the first Black President of the Memphis Bar Association, the first in the organization’s 148-year history.
“I can almost see God ordering my steps, because I genuinely believe that. Like, I can see x thing occurring that prepared me for why and why things occur that prepare me for z,” said Gibson.
While looking back on her accomplishments, there is one person in particular who would miss her historic moment but still resonate every second. That person is Gibson’s father.
“My dad passed in 2017. So, I hope. I hope I'm making him proud. My mom is so proud and supportive. It's just hard to even articulate,” said Gibson.
We asked, “What do you think your dad would say now if he were here?’
“I think about that a lot. You know, now is our time. Time. It's time. It's time for progress, real progress, not progress on paper, accountability, and all of those things. I think that’s what he would say,” said Gibson.
Although Gibson said much progress has been made, there’s still ways to go.
Gibson received a proclamation from the city of Memphis last Monday. She's the first Black female partner at Burch, Porter & Johnson and is one of three Black partners in Memphis.