Tennessee state Representatives Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson went from being local lawmakers to nationally recognized political figures in the span of just a few weeks. After participating in a protest calling for gun control legislation following the mass shooting at Nashville’s Covenant School, the “Tennessee Three” faced expulsion from the state’s House of Representatives. Jones and Pearson, the two youngest Black members of the legislative body, were kicked out by the Republican supermajority.
Jones and Pearson were later reinstated as interim representatives by commissions in their respective districts. Today (April 24), the Tennessee Three took their case to the White House. Jones, Pearson, and Johnson met with President Biden and Vice President Harris to discuss how the country and individual states can move forward on enacting stricter gun control laws.
“You’re standing up for our kids. You’re standing up for our communities,” Biden told them at the top of their Oval Office meeting, according to USA Today. “What the Republican legislature did was shocking. It was undemocratic.”
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, first confirmed the meeting last week. “The president has been very clear about how very important it is to take the next steps when it comes to gun reform, and he saw these three legislators as taking that next step,” she told reporters in the clip seen below. “He was proud and very appreciative of their efforts of what they were doing in the state House and how important it is to have that type of visibility, to have those voices out there to continue to call on an issue that he’s been talking about not just for the past several months, but for years.”
“They had a conversation,” she added. “He thanked them for speaking out, standing their ground and being very clear about what’s needed to protect their communities, and he invited them here to continue that conversation.”
The three politicians emerged from their meeting with the president and vice president more energized and ready to fight than ever. After the discussion, they addressed what needed to be done. Pearson, flanked by Jones and Johnson, said the next steps are apparent.
“For the Republican Party, who too often likes the status quo than justice, who too often is okay supporting white supremacy and patriarchy than supporting policies that can keep children alive, the message has been very clear from Tennesseeans, both Republican and Democrat, white and Black, and rich and poor,” he declared, as seen below. “Something must be done.”
“The Republican Party … who too often is OK supporting white supremacy and patriarchy than supporting policies that can keep children alive.”
— The Recount (@therecount) April 24, 2023
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