The Tennessee 2: Realistic Radicals or Beautiful Troublemakers?

4 min readApr 20, 2023
Photo by visuals on Unsplash

Activists and legislators have different functions, but what happens when an activist becomes a legislator and continues functioning as an activist?

Headlines like this appear: Tennessee GOP expels Democratic lawmakers for anti-gun protest.

On March 27, a mass shooting at a private elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, shocked the nation. Three children and three adults were killed. Days later, over a thousand demonstrators gathered at the state capitol to demand that the Republican-controlled legislature make stricter gun laws.

No rules were broken until two black activists and first-term Democratic state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, along with Democratic state Rep. Gloria Johnson, entered the legislative chamber, took over the podium, and led protesters in chants calling for gun reform.

The Democratic state Reps. breached chamber rules of procedure by interrupting a house session. Democratic state Rep. Jones led the gun reform chants from the podium with a bullhorn. Obviously, he was playing the role of an activist, but why breach chamber rules when the gun reform demonstration had a good turnout and achieved the goal of a lawful protest?

Because activists like Jones and Pearson use tactics from Beautiful Trouble: A




J. Pharoah Doss is a columnist for the New Pittsburgh Courier.