Updated: Jun 17
Four days after being expelled by Republicans in the Tennessee Legislature for breaking house rules, in a colossal repudiation of his colleagues on the right, the Nashville Metro Council voted 36-0 to reinstate Representative Justin Jones back into the governing body. Another Black member who was tossed out the same day, Representative Justin Pearson, will likely be reappointed later this week.
Sending Jones back to his seat so soon after his removal was one of the biggest political snubs in US history. The loathing on the right was palpable.
Sure, it's not necessarily a good idea to break the rules, but these 2 men felt they had no choice with hundreds of their constituents demanding action outside the chamber after the school shooting 10 days earlier that left 6 dead, including 3 children at the hands of an emotionally disturbed person using a legally purchased AR-15.
The Speaker of the House refused to address the shooting and silenced the men by turning off their microphones, which led to a vote for their dismissal the following day. A white female lawmaker who also participated in the fracas kept her seat, illustrating the blatant racism firmly embedded in the Tennessee House.
Justin Jones returned yesterday to a triumphant reception by his supporters, but before he arrived, he and 82 year-old Joan Baez, who happened to be on the same plane, sang, "We Shall Overcome" together at the airport gate after disembarking. Jones is 26.