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ICYMI: Vice President Harris Traveled to Nashville, TN

April 08, 2023

Vice President Harris Visits Nashville, TN to Stand with Tennessee Three

Yesterday, the Vice President traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to meet with state legislators and young leaders, who showed courage in the face of extreme tragedy and demanded meaningful action to address gun violence. The Vice President delivered powerful remarks reaffirming that the Administration will not be silent on attacks against democracy, and called on Congressional and state leaders to act on common sense gun reform.

Read more about the Vice President's trip below:

Tennessean: Live Updates: 'Tennessee Three' meet VP Kamala Harris; speak with President Joe Biden
[Molly Davis, Liam Adams, Diana Leyva, and Melissa Brown, 4/7/2023]

Vice President Kamala Harris met with the three lawmakers who battled this week for their seats in the Tennessee House of Representatives. […]

Early into her remarks, the vice president recognized the significance of where she's speaking, a local HBCU (historically Black college and universities) that educated civil rights leaders like Diane Nash and John Lewis.

"We are here understanding the broad shoulders upon which we all stand. Those fighters for freedom and liberty and justice," Harris said. "Those leaders who understood truth must never be stifled or silenced when it is on behalf of the people." […]

After addressing Thursday's events and the Tennessee Three, Harris concluded her remarks with a message for the whole audience.

"Your voices are part of the conscience of our country. When we need in these moments in time people who have something in them that is about empathy, about care, about a sense of responsibility for their brother and sister," Harris said. "We need you all."

CNN: Vice President Kamala Harris meets with expelled Black Tennessee lawmakers
[Jasmine Wright, Sam Fossum, and Kaanita Iyeer, 4/7/2023]

Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Nashville on Friday where she delivered an impassioned speech advocating for gun control and met with a pair of state lawmakers who were expelled from the General Assembly after protesting on the state House floor. […]

The vice president applauded the three lawmakers that had faced expulsion votes, saying they "chose to lead and show courage." […]

Harris also used the moment to convey the administration's seriousness about democracy, which a White House official told CNN earlier Friday was one of the objectives of the trip.

"We understand when we took an oath to represent the people who elected us that we speak on behalf of them," she said. It wasn't about the three of these leaders. It was about who they were representing. it's about whose voices they were channeling. Understand that – and is that not what a democracy allows?

AP: Kamala Harris leads Tennessee rally, backs ousted lawmakers
[Travis Loller, Kristin M. Hall, and Zeke Miller, 4/8/2023]

[…] Harris received wild applause and several standing ovations as she told a crowd at Nashville's historically Black Fisk University that the so-called Tennessee Three — ousted Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson and a third Democrat, Gloria Johnson, who avoided expulsion by a single vote — were being, in her words, silenced and stifled for standing up for the lives of schoolchildren.

"Let's understand the underlying issue is about fighting for the safety of our children," Harris said. "It's been years now where they are taught to read and write and hide in a closet and be quiet if there's a mass shooter at their school, where our children, who have God's capacity to learn and lead, who go to school in fear." […]

Harris met privately with Jones, Pearson and Johnson, as well as with other elected officials and young people advocating for tougher gun control laws.

The 19th News: We will not be defeated': Vice President Kamala Harris stands with expelled representatives in Nashville
[Daja Henry, 4/7/2023]

[…] From the pulpit of the Fisk Memorial Chapel, Harris leaned into the school's legacy of producing leaders who fought for freedom, like John Lewis, Diane Nash and now Justin Jones.

"We will not be defeated. We will not be deterred. We will not throw up our hands when it is time to roll up our sleeves. We will fight. We will lead. We will speak with truth. We will speak about freedom and justice and we will march on," Harris said.

She demanded legislation around gun control such as background checks and red flag laws, which would allow intervention when an individual owning a gun poses a threat to themself or others.

"The policy is pretty straightforward," she said. "Let's not fall for the false choice, which suggests you're either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want reasonable gun safety laws. We can do both."

The Grio: Vice President Harris travels to Tennessee after expulsion of Black lawmakers
[Gerren Gaynor, 4/7/2023]

Harris will meet with the so-called "Tennessee Three," comprised of Rep. Gloria Johnson and former representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, who Republicans moved to expel from their seats by a super-majority Republican House. […]

Vice President Kamala Harris condemned the expulsion of Jones and Pearson.

"Six people, including three children, were killed last week in a school shooting in Nashville – How did Republican lawmakers in Tennessee respond?" queried Harris. "By expelling their colleagues who stood with Tennesseans and said enough is enough."

Washington Post: Kamala Harris, Democrats rally around expelled Tenn. Lawmakers
[Liz Goodwin and Matthew Brown, 4/7/2023]

Vice President Harris led a chorus of Democratic outrage raining down on Tennessee Republicans on Friday, making a surprise visit to greet the state Democratic lawmakers who were kicked out of their posts by their GOP colleagues on Thursday for protesting in the statehouse for gun control laws. […]

"That is not a democracy," Harris said of the move to expel the lawmakers in a speech to Fisk University students after she met with Jones and Pearson. "You can't walk around with your lapel pin and you're not representing the values that we hold here as Americans." […]

In her speech at the historically Black college, Harris said the GOP lawmakers showed "cowardice," and appeared to act as if they didn't want "those voices in the room, challenging notions about who can say what, when and where."

NBC: VP Kamala Harris meets with expelled Black Democratic lawmakers in Nashville
[Rebecca Shabad and Zoe Richards, 4/7/2023]

Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday traveled to Nashville to meet with three Tennessee Democrats a day after state GOP lawmakers ousted two Black Democratic members for protesting against gun violence on the chamber floor. […]

During remarks at Fisk University, Harris said the three Democrats were "channeling" the voices of their constituents during last week's protest.

"A democracy says you don't silence the people. You do not stifle the people, you don't turn off their microphones when they are speaking about the importance of life and liberty," Harris said. […]

Reuters: Harris chides Tennessee Republicans for ousting state lawmakers
[Cheny Orr, 4/8/2023]

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Nashville on Friday in a show of support for Tennessee state lawmakers expelled for staging a rule-breaking demonstration for gun control on the statehouse floor after a recent school shooting. […]

"The issue, which gets back to these three, is that we need leaders who have the courage to act at state houses and in Washington, D.C., in the United States Congress," Harris told a gathering at Fisk University, a historically Black school. "Have the courage to act instead of the cowardice to not allow debate." […]

Harris urged young people to increase their activism on gun violence prevention, following the example of those who joined the original protest last week and returned on Thursday.

"Every generation has its calling," Harris said. "And so in particular, to all the young leaders here: This issue is going to require your leadership. ... We need you."

Additional Coverage:

Kamala Harris, ICYMI: Vice President Harris Traveled to Nashville, TN Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/360475

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