She appeared to cheers in the erupted crowd. Kamala Harris became the vice-president of the United States while they sang “Mine Light Little This” anthem, which represents civil rights, at Fisk University, a historically Black college in Nashville, Tennessee. Approximately 500 people packed the chapel.
After joining a protest in favor of gun control at the capitol in Nashville, Tennessee, representatives Justin Pearson and Justin Jones, along with Gloria Johnson, narrowly survived a vote of expulsion from their fellow Republican-controlled lawmakers and Democrats, showing support for her listeners and Harris.
Harris expressed, “They made the decision to take charge and demonstrate bravery and express that a democratic system permits spaces where the opinions of the people will be acknowledged and valued,” hinting at how the specific representatives supported advocates of gun control following the tragic incident at Covenant elementary school in Nashville on 27 March, where three students and three staffers lost their lives. Harris commended [Jones, Pearson, and Johnson] and their fellow members of the Democratic caucus for exhibiting bravery in the midst of a severe calamity.
The vice-president also added that they saw another chapter added to the vibrant local history of civil rights activism, saying that it was their colleague Diane Nash and the late US congressman John Lewis who saw previously segregated lunch counters during the sit-ins movement, standing on their broad shoulders.
In an attempt to bring about regulation and control of guns, Pearson, Jones, and Johnson spoke out in a manner that led to the cutting off of their microphones by staff at the Capitol. Sexton Cameron, the Republican speaker of the house, faced expulsion proceedings after the “Tennessee Three,” as they are called, visited Harris’s office, which was punctuated by a dramatic week.
Demonstrators supporting their suggested actions were guided by Jones and Pearson with a megaphone while Johnson stood alongside them quietly in unity and repeated slogans.
They were elected to expel all three seats in the chamber, then drew up papers to oust their colleagues. On Thursday, two Black men, Pearson and Jones, left after votes, while a 60-year-old white woman, Johnson, managed to keep her seat with a single vote.
Harris exclaimed in anger, “These politicians had to acquire a megaphone to make their voices heard.” “A democratic society declares that you must not suppress the citizens, you must not hinder the citizens, you must not disable their audio devices while they are expressing their opinions,” Harris added.
In 2019, the state legislature chose not to remove a Republican representative who was accused of sexual misconduct. Meanwhile, the governing body had previously expelled one legislator who was accused of using federal nursing school grant funds for a wedding, and another who allegedly engaged in improper sexual contact with over 20 women during their four-year tenure in office. Such removals are extremely uncommon, even in today’s highly polarized political environment, and are typically reserved for lawmakers accused of misconduct that is more severe than a mere breach of decorum.
Prior to those competitions, despite reports of pressure on the commissions to select temporary substitutes, county commissions in the districts of Jones and Pearson are currently preparing to designate individuals to fill the recently vacated seats until the occurrence of special elections. Jones and Pearson are still qualified to participate in those special elections and may potentially be appointed by the county commissions to retain their positions.
In order to address the gun violence in our country, we require more voices like theirs, advocating for action. President Johnson tweeted a photo of the meeting, stating the importance of speaking out. Additionally, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris met with them virtually and emphasized the significance of their remarks. Both Pearson’s and Jones’ expulsions have been given considerable attention on national platforms, ensuring that they are held accountable.
Well-known within the corridors of African-American churches, the type of positive statements that are in response to her remarks, the chapel warmly welcomed the vice-president.
“Of course. However, when it comes to the matter of gun safety regulations and background checks, the policy is actually quite simple,” she stated. “Certain aspects are subject to partisan discussion.”
“Truth!” Someone exclaimed from one of the benches.
Harris continued, “weapons designed to kill a lot of people are weapons of war, not assault weapons.” Harris continued, “these weapons have no place on the streets of a civilized society.”
Whispers of “amen”, and “I understand that’s correct”, flowed through the gathering.
Kayla Willis, one of them, told the students at Fisk University that in this current political environment, particularly at the forefront, Harris is also associated with the historically Black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. As a symbol of their affiliation, the students from the sorority can be seen wearing vibrant pink-and-green attire and pearls as they line the aisles of the chapel.
Willis, a senior studying Spanish and political science, expressed her disappointment at the expulsion of representatives Jones and Pearson, as well as the turnout, appearance, and speeches from local activists and officials, which had initially lifted her spirits.
Harris Torrey, a Democrat who represents Memphis in the State Legislature, was similarly affected. He, like Pearson, was noted for being the youngest member of the legislature after the expulsions. He targeted two men whom he referred to as “brothers” and whom he had grown to love.
Harris said he had no doubt race factored into Jones and Pearson’s expulsions as well as the more favorable outcome for Johnson.
Harris remarked, “However, in various states, not just in this particular state, ethnicity plays a significant role in many of the decision-making processes that occur. It is unjust to suppress someone else’s beliefs and capacity to advocate for their community. We aspire to return to that ideal society, where our nation is founded upon democratic principles.”