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Right after the American Civil War, there was a Reconstruction Era that lasted until the Compromise of 1877. Basically, the focus was on bringing the southern states back into full political participation in the Union, and the goal was guaranteeing the rights of former slaves and ensuring new relationships between whites and African Americans. This period ended March 31, 1877.

In a sense, this might be considered the golden age of African American participation in politics. There was a lull after that period, as well as a white supremacist backlash. After that time, Republicans became more conservative. Subsequently, there was an economic depression that especially impacted the South, and the Democratic Party gained control of the House of Representatives for the first time since the Civil War.

Fast forward to 2023. African Americans have gained political offices all over America. This “New Reconstruction” has seen the election of an African American president, vice president, Secretary of State, a number of mayors, state and national legislators, Supreme Court Justices, U.S. Attorney General, and three Black governors, among other gains.

There are indications that some folks want to turn the political clock back. Recently, three legislators from Tennessee were cited for misconduct, and two were ousted from their positions in the State legislature. The two were African American; a white woman was spared. When asked why she didn’t meet the same fate as the African Americans, she indicated that it was connected with skin color!

This is what happened: Former State Representative Justin Jones and fellow Democratic lawmaker Justin Pearson were ejected by the Republican-controlled state House for their role in a protest calling for gun control after the March 27 Nashville Covenant School shooting. State Representative Gloria Johnson, who also participated in the protest, survived the expulsion fiasco.

Claims of racism followed because Johnson was not removed, while both Black legislators were removed. This is why, in the eyes of most people, the Black legislators are seen as victims of a cut-and-dried case of bigotry on the part of the Republican-dominated State legislature.

Those who voted for the ousters say racism was not at the seat of the expulsions. They say the legislators broke the law. The Black legislators, however, say that their ouster is part of Republican voter suppression and disenfranchisement strategies.

Our children are losing their lives to gun violence at alarming rates, and there is reluctance on the part of Republican legislators to vote on common sense legislation that would help mitigate the problem. This is why the expulsion of Justin Jones and Justin Pearson was so egregious. They were addressing an issue that needed to be tackled.

As of the end of March, 2023, there were 128 mass shootings. Moreover, over 150 people have died in mass shootings so far this year. One of the worst aspects of this situation is the fact that too many citizens have access to assault rifles. These are not needed for hunting, and they are not needed for general protection. For some reason, among Republicans, the political will does not exist to rid the population of these machines of war!

Our society appears to be devolving at an alarming rate. People are becoming meaner and are quick to settle disputes with lethal weapons. That’s why there is an urgency to address the gun control issue. Republican legislators are reluctant to ban assault weapons. To do nothing, and more importantly, to sanction their colleagues who strive to address the issue, is an atrocity!

Hindsight, therefore, makes the ejection of the Black legislators even more egregious. Apparently, Republicans care more about their guns than they do about the lives of American children!

Six days after being expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives the two legislators were reinstated. But the horse has left the stable…a renewed push for much-needed gun control activism has been ignited by the pushback related to the expulsion incident. Let’s hope this marks the beginning of a serious consideration of strategies regarding controlling guns, and especially assault rifles. The existence of these lethal weapons in a society that is increasingly hostile is like pouring gasoline on a fire!

There is a saying that guns don’t kill people; it is people who kill people. We wonder why people don’t realize the obvious: that it is people with guns who kill people! A Luta Continua.

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