MEMPHIS, Tenn. — From the National Civil Rights Museum to the inside chambers of the Shelby County Commission, hundreds followed behind Justin J. Pearson in anticipation of his appointment to the Tennessee House of Representatives after his expulsion less than a week ago.
Wednesday night, he celebrated with supporters at the Unity Party hosted by Shelby County Democrats.
“What they were attempting to do was to silence this democracy, erode this democracy, abuse this democracy, abuse their power in a democracy,” Pearson said.
Seven Shelby County Commissioners voted to appoint Pearson to the 86th District. All of them were Democrats with two not present.
Noticeably, no Republican Commissioners showed up for the vote.
Republican Commissioner Mick Wright sent out a statement saying he would leave the decision to his Democratic colleagues.
Dr. Earle Fisher, a community activist and pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church, said the divide in the vote sent a clear message.
“What some intended for evil, God turned around and worked it out for good,” Fisher said. “You had no white commissioner show up to the meeting that’s either because they don’t value democracy enough to show up in support or they made a political calculation that they did not want to be on public record.”
Looking past the political strife, Pearson is continuing to use his voice to call for gun reform and other critical issues.
“We’ve got real problems that deserve real solutions and real courage because sometimes you have to act no matter because the issue is too important,” Pearson said.
Pearson said he is heading back to Nashville with family and plans to be sworn in on Thursday morning.