July 24, 2024

“Continue to fight the good fight,” Caswell said.

Pearson responded with a warning message to the Republican supermajority in the state House and a rally cry to his supporters.

“The message for all the people in Nashville who decided to expel us: You can’t expel hope, you can’t expel justice, you can’t expel our voice and you sure can’t expel our fight,” Pearson said.

“We look forward to continuing to fight,” he said. “Let’s get back to work.”

Pearson is expected to return to work Thursday when the full state House will convene.

Ahead of the vote, supporters gathered at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, located where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, and marched toward the council meeting.

GOP leadership was angered by the Democrats’ protest and swiftly removed them from the chamber in an unusually partisan process. A third targeted member, Rep. Gloria Johnson, escaped expulsion by a single vote. Johnson suggested the vote went in her favor because she is white and Pearson and Jones are Black.

Republicans’ actions have propelled Nashville onto the national stage and drawn criticism from Democratic leaders including President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama.

Their ouster has also handed Tennessee Democrats a major organizing opportunity and the party is now attempting a political comeback in the deep red state.