Justin Pearson celebrates with supporters after being reinstated to the the Tennessee House of Representatives by the Shelby County Board of Commissioners building in Memphis, Tenn., on Wednesday, April 12, 2023. Republicans expelled Pearson and Rep. Justin Jones last week over their role in a gun control protest on the House floor after a Nashville school shooting that left three children and three adults dead.
The second of two Black Democrats expelled from the Republican-led Tennessee House will return to the Legislature after a Memphis commission voted to reinstate him Wednesday, nearly a week after his banishment for supporting gun control protesters propelled him into the national spotlight.
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Hundreds of supporters marched Justin Pearson through Memphis to the Shelby County Board of Commissioners meeting, chanting and cheering, before entering the commission chambers, where officials quickly voted 7-0 to restore his position.
“The message for all the people in Nashville who decided to expel us: You can’t expel hope. You can’t expel justice,” Pearson said at the meeting, his voice rising as he spoke. ”You can’t expel our voice. And you sure can’t expel our fight.”