Once again, the Tennessee General Assembly has brought national attention to our state, and not in a positive way. Their most recent antic, expelling Representative Justin Jones and Representative Justin Pearson as well attempting to expel Representative Gloria Johnson, highlights their obsession with stifling dissent or even open debate. And their actions reek of racism. This has been obvious from the very beginning of the current session. They feigned indignation when Pearson chose to wear a dashiki rather than a business suit to his swearing in. This continues a history of trying to marginalize black and brown citizens. It is the 2023 version of white's only water fountains and segregated lunch counters.
The ”super majority” claims that the three broke “decorum” and what they consider “appropriate behavior”. They allege that it interfered with business. House Speaker Cameron Sexton had the audacity to compare their chants, after repeatedly being denied a chance to speak on the issue of gun violence, to the January 6, 2021 insurrection in the U.S. Capital. It’s them who are subverting the democratic process, not Jones, Johnson and Pearson.
This sad spectacle played out during a week where thousands of people protested the senseless murders of six people, three of them children, at Covenant School and demanded action from our State. Instead of rolling up their sleeves, they did nothing to address gun violence, not even common sense steps like red flag laws. Instead, they focused on silencing those who were demanding action.
Whether you live in Memphis, Knoxville, Nashville or anywhere else in our State, the threat to our democracy is real, and we should all be concerned. We need to keep fighting for change so that the needs of people must be addressed
This last week many citizens, Black, brown and white, young and old, gay and straight, all came together as Nashvillians and were loud and outspoken, just like Justin, Justin and Gloria were. Sometimes, oftentimes, you have to challenge the status quo and those in power to make change happen.
This is something working people and the members of SEIU Local 205 understand all too well, the need to speak truth to power and to stand up for what is right. We know that only by standing together can we make change happen. So let's stand together as a community and call for the reinstatement of Representatives Jones and Pearson.
Change is going to come. Change needs to come. Asked what he meant when he chanted “No Justice No Peace”, Justin Jones explained that it came from something Dr. Martin Luther King said that true peace is not merely the absence of tension, but it is the presence of justice. He then said, “Until we act, there will be no peace in our communities.” That says it all.
No Justice! No Peace!