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Tennessee Rep. Jones Urged Berkeley Students to Dismantle Systems of Injustice

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Tennessee Representative Justin JonesPlay

Tennessee Representative Justin Jones.

Justin Jones, an activist and community organizer from Nashville, gained national attention when he was expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives for leading a gun control protest on the House floor. However, just four days later, he was reinstated to his seat by a unanimous vote from the Metropolitan Nashville Council.

Jones, 27, was born in Oakland but graduated from Fisk University, a historically Black school in Tennessee, and is now a graduate student in theology at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Representative Jones and Angela Glover Blackwell discussed activism, gun violence, race, and democracy in an hour-long discussion on the UC Berkeley campus. Blackwell is the founder of PolicyLink and a Professor of Practice at the Goldman School of Public Policy.

The event is part of the Creating Citizens Speaker Series at UC Berkeley, a partnership between The Commonwealth Club, the ASUC Vote Coalition, and the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement. Through this series, UC Berkeley students and community members have the opportunity to hear from and engage with influential figures in politics, media, and education, as they strive to become more informed and engaged citizens.

In a speech to the UC Berkeley School of Public Policy, Jones urged students to commit themselves to social justice and to challenge the power structures that have been hostile to people of color, women, LGBTQIA+ communities, and other long-marginalized groups.

TN Rep. Justin Jones also gave a commencement address:

“We know we have the moral platform that our movement is multiracial and multifaith and multigenerational,” Jones said. “And that is what makes them so afraid. If they were not afraid of our power, they would not be calculating and conniving in such ways to silence our generation. They would not take such extreme measures to try and silence our movements.” – Rep. Jones on

To listen to the full conversation between Rep. Jones and Blackwell visit

To read excerpts from Jones’ commencement speech, visit

Photography by Vita Hewitt


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