The Tennessee State Assembly Wanted To Make An Example Out of Two Black Representatives

Michael Arceneaux
5 min readApr 7

The Tennessee state assembly is punishing its Black members for being “uppity.”


Tennessee Republicans that hold a supermajority in the Tennessee State Assembly sought to humiliate two Black men on Thursday.

Last week, in the wake of the mass shooting at Nashville’s Covenant School that left six people dead, three state representatives — Democrats Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson — interrupted the legislature by chanting “No action, no peace” on the House floor — forcing legislative proceedings to a halt.

Hundreds of students, parents and teachers had marched to the State Capitol demanding action by the legislature to toughen gun laws.

“You ban books. You ban drag. Kids are still in body bags,” they chanted.

Johnson, Jones, and Pearson led a protest inside the state house, when they hadn’t been recognized to speak under House rules.

The state legislature was not interested. They had already decided what would be done: more guns — including for teachers even the majority had already told them that armed teachers are not the right answers. They did not appreciate these two Black men and this woman daring to challenge them.

In response, the three were then accused of violating decorum rules for their use of a bullhorn and signs to call for gun control.

The speaker of the House, Cameron Sexton, compared them to the insurrectionists on January 6th. Sexton said that their actions were “unacceptable,” and revoked their ID access to the State Capitol building.

And then they sought to expel them on the charge that they “generally engaged in disorderly and disruptive conduct.”

They had the two-thirds vote required to expel every member, but only the two Black men found themselves expelled.

Rep. Gloria Johnson, who survived albeit by one vote, was asked in an interview with CNN why she thinks there was a difference between her outcome and her colleagues.

“I think it’s pretty clear. I’m a 60 year-old white woman and they are two young Black men.”

Michael Arceneaux

New York Times bestselling author of “I Can’t Date Jesus” and “I Don’t Want To Die Poor.”