Published April 14, 2023
“Justin Jones is reentering the chamber at the Tennessee State Legislature to tremendous applause.”
So said an MSNBC commentator today, after the Nashville Metro Council voted to return Democratic state representative Justin J. Jones to the Tennessee General Assembly. Last week, Republicans expelled Jones and his colleague Justin Pearson, who represents parts of Memphis, for breaches of decorum after they joined with protesters to call for gun safety legislation in the wake of a school shooting last week that left six people, including three 9-years-olds, dead. The colleague who protested with them, Gloria Johnson, survived a motion to expel her, too, by a single vote.
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Yesterday, representatives Jones and Johnson flew from Nashville to Newark, and it happened that Joan Baez, the folk music legend, was on the same airplane. In the Newark airport, Jones asked Baez to sing with him. As Johnson filmed them, together they sang two spiritual-based freedom songs that became anthems in the Civil Rights Era: “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round” and “We Shall Overcome.”