Updated 4/12/2023 at 5:20 p.m. ET  

Less than a week after being banished from the state legislature, Representative Justin Pearson of Memphis is back! On Wednesday, the Shelby County Board of Commissioners voted to reinstate Pearson after both he and Representative Justin Jones were expelled from the statehouse.

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“People power just sent us back to save the people of District 86,” proclaimed Pearson after the vote. “If there is anybody who is doubting the power of people, tell them to look right here in Memphis.”

Rep. Jones of Nashville was reinstated to his position on Monday. However, the fact that this happened at all spells trouble for Black Americans in Tennessee and across the United States. Not only were two democratically-elected Black Americans removed from their positions for speaking out against gun violence, but thousands of Black voters in their districts were also disenfranchised. The worry now is that these types of tactics could spread.

Why This Is Still a Serious Problem For Black Americans

The Root spoke with Ohio State University Professor Hasan Kwame Jeffries, who did not shy away from sharing his concerns:

“I can guarantee you that we will see something similar in similar places going forward,” he said. “That is a bad precedent.”

Whether it’s anti-Democratic measures to ban women’s rights, decrease voting rights, or censor what can be taught in schools, “when one red state does it, the others will follow,” Jeffries said.

He also noted that the laws in Tennessee are not unique, and we could see this being done on a national scale. “Don’t be surprised if we see this when you have either Black legislators or progressive legislators trying to amplify their voice,” he said. “In one way or another, rules will be used to silence them.”

What Happens After The Council Members Are Restored?

It’s worth noting that this debacle won’t be entirely over once both representatives are reappointed. The reappointments would only be to temporary positions. That means both Pearson and Jones would have to run for re-election in special election races.

So far, we don’t have a specific date for when they’d have to run again. However, both politicians have made it very clear that they plan to seek re-election. Considering the outcry over their ousting, their re-election campaigns should start on solid footing.