NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The chants of “no justice, no peace” could be heard from outside the Fisk University Chapel. On Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris scheduled an unplanned visit to Fisk University to meet with Reps. Gloria Johnson (D—Knoxville), Justin Jones (D—Nashville) and Justin Pearson (D—Memphis).
“They chose to show courage in the face of extreme tragedy,” Harris said to a cheering crowd. “A democracy allows for places where the people’s voice to be heard and honored and respected and they understood the importance, these three, of standing to say the people will not be silenced.”
Visiting with the group now known as the “Tennessee Three” on the front row, Harris complimented their efforts on the House floor.
It was a moment that stuck with many in the crowd.
“I think history will tell the story and it’s so important that we get our legislatures back in place, we get them back on that floor, making decisions for this community,” said Dr. LaTanya Rogers, a Fisk University Professor.
The “Tennessee Three” have gained national attention. Jones, a graduate of Fisk University and the first to be voted out, received a warm welcome, surrounded by supporters.
“Seeing Justin take a stand against this prejudice, I would like to call it, and really just injustice, has really inspired a lot of the students here, myself included,” said student Desmond Pare.
“It was a timely speech. Right now, it’s imperative that we get everyone involved. Democracy is failing us right now,” said Connor Joseph, another Fisk University student. “It was great to see that Justin Jones, came home and was able to be celebrated after the expulsion”
The visit comes on the heels of Jones and Pearson being expelled from their positions, after protesting for gun reform in the House well. The protest was sparked by the Covenant School shooting, which left six people dead.
Harris focused on “red flag” laws and background checks.
“The policy is really pretty straightforward. It’s to say, you might want to know before someone buys a gun whether they’ve been found by a court to be a danger to themselves or others, you might just want to know. You might want to know if someone has shown themselves to be violent before they can go a buy a gun,” said Harris.
Hours before Harris spoke, the Tennessee Three spoke to President Joe Biden via video conference call. The President stated, “Our country needs to take action on gun violence — to do that we need more voices like theirs speaking out.”
“We need leaders who have the courage to act at statehouses and in Washington D.C. and the United States Congress, have the courage to act, instead of the cowardness to not allow debate and to not allow a discussion on the merits of what is at stake,” said Harris.