One of the Ousted ‘Tennessee Three’ on Democracy | Sojourners


Representative Justin Jones, a Black-Filipino man in a white suit and brown tie, stands amid the aisles of Tennessee's House of Representatives, raising his fist to the ceiling as his colleague Justin Pearson stands behind him to the left.

Rep. Justin Jones gestures during a vote to expel him from the state legislature in Nashville, Tenn., in April, for taking part in a gun-control demonstration on the House floor after six people were killed in a mass shooting at a local Christian school. / Seth Herald / Getty Images

One of the Ousted ‘Tennessee Three’ on Democracy

Rep. Justin Jones addresses his ousting from Tennessee's House of Representatives and his hope for a “Third Reconstruction.”
By Justin Jones

Justin Jones is a Tennessee state legislator representing Nashville. He spoke with Sojourners’ Mitchell Atencio.

What they were trying to do wasn’t just expel us, but the movements we are standing in solidarity with. It’s not ironic that it happened on the day before Good Friday. They tried to crucify democracy and I [was reinstated] the Monday after Easter as a testament to the resurrection of a movement for multiracial democracy here in the South. The resurrection of a Third Reconstruction [is] being led by students and young people — that’s a very powerful vision. If it’s possible here in the South, if it’s possible in Tennessee, that should give us some hope in the nation.

One of my closest mentors is Diane Nash, who I believe is a representative of what she calls “agapeic energy,” this love force that is used to challenge injustice and harm. She’s one of my dear elders and teachers who’s really guided me throughout this process. I’ve been inspired by many of the elders of our movement: the Freedom Riders; [Ernest] Rip Patton [Jr.], who passed away just a couple of years ago and was like an honorary grandfather, who taught us about nonviolence and the need to act in our generation; and Bernard Lafayette, who lives in Alabama and was here a couple of weeks ago. We talk frequently on the phone, and he’s been an adviser on nonviolence and strategy.

I also think of younger leaders — Rev. Stephen Green, who came from Harlem, showed up, saw what was happening, and was willing to stand with and help coordinate this resistance to an attack on democracy. I think of Rev. Ingrid [McIntyre], one of our younger clergy here in Nashville, a white [clergyperson] who said, “Whatever you need, I will be there; I will stand in the breach.” This is a movement of faith here.

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Justin Jones is a Tennessee state legislator representing Nashville.