Last Thursday was a shameful day in the Volunteer State. Just days after six people — three of them only nine years old — were murdered in an elementary school, three Democratic lawmakers joined a group of protesters demanding their legislature act. Rather than listen and engage, the Republican supermajority in the Tennessee House of Representatives voted according to party lines to expel two of their colleagues from the chamber. It is not lost on me that, of the three legislators whose expulsion was brought to a vote, the two young Black men were expelled, while the white woman survived the vote.
These men, state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, represented majority Black districts in Nashville and Memphis, respectively. If made permanent, the expulsion would have left over 139,000 constituents without their duly democratically elected representation, leaving them disenfranchised and without a voice in their state’s legislative process. Over half of these constituents are Black.