HomeNewsNAACP leaders push for ‘good trouble’

NAACP leaders push for ‘good trouble’

By Brandon Shields

Managing editor

The Jackson-Madison County chapter of the NAACP held its 60th annual Freedom Fund banquet on Sunday, and the theme of the event was “Making Good Trouble Today for a Better Tomorrow.”

And that was the focus of many of the words spoken at the event.

Gloria Johnson (Democrat-Knoxville), a state representative from Knoxville, who was one of the “Tennessee Three,” who disrupted the proceedings in the State House in April in an effort to continue to push for stricter gun control in the wake of the shooting at Covenant Christian School in March, was one of the featured speakers at the event.

The other featured speaker was William Watson, the senior pastor at Historic First Baptist Church of Jackson.

Watson said NAACP President Harrell Carter told him to bring the Word, and he said that was his intention.

He spoke from Habakkuk 2:20: “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silent before Him.”

He then encouraged the assembly to stay quiet while God works, relating the situation the prophet Habakkuk lived in, in which the nation of Israel was about to go into captivity in Babylon.

“The nation was disenfranchised and violently persecuted,” Watson said. “And while God used Babylon as the rod of discipline for His people to learn to trust Him, He also knew Babylon’s sin of oppression couldn’t last more than He allowed.”

He related that situation to the work of the NAACP and the organization’s efforts for the past century in trying to relieve Black people and other minorities of oppression and disenfranchisement that’s come through systemic racism and the criminal justice system.

“The NAACP wasn’t designed so that one person or one group of people could look at another and claim they were better than you,” Watson said. “It was designed to give all the opportunity at equality and inclusion.”

Watson’s sermon went along with the message from Johnson.

“I don’t know when words like equality, diversity and inclusion became bad words, but somehow that’s what’s happened,” Johnson said. “And that kind of attitude and work is not acceptable, and we will continue to fight and get into good trouble when we need to that end.”

Carter spoke at the end of the evening and addressed the situation involving Johnson and fellow Representatives Justin Jones (D-Memphis) and Justin Pearson (D-Nashville) were all motioned to be expelled from the General Assembly.

Johnson didn’t receive enough votes to be expelled, but Jones and Pearson did, forcing both to have to run for re-election via the rules of the General Assembly after both of their respective county commissions voted to send them back to Nashville to represent their districts.

The death of Memphis resident Tyre Nichols in January, who was beaten to death by Memphis Police officers and not allowed to receive any medical attention, and the state legislature’s response to the Covenant Christian shooting.

“We keep hearing from our elected representatives that it’s a mental health issue, and I agree with them in a way,” Carter said. “Because I think you need mental counseling if you’re willing to vote against laws that would keep guns like what was used in that school out of the hands of people that don’t need them.”

Watson and Carter spoke to more local issues as well, criticizing the state education department’s requirement for third-graders to pass the TCAP to move on to fourth grade no matter what their grades may be otherwise. Both speakers encouraged those in attendance to vote as well.

After the event, Johnson said she knows the work she and others are trying to do are what the majority of Tennesseans support even if the majority in the State House doesn’t.

“Most Tennesseans want stricter gun laws,” Johnson said. “Because we’re not coming to take your guns. We just want guns to be in the hands of responsible people.”Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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