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The New "Redeemers"
In my latest for CNN, I talk about how the expulsion of the ‘Tennessee Three’ is a chilling echo of Jim Crow
I’m a historian and we shy away from the word “unprecedented.” But all too often that word has applied to current events. If you appreciate this kind of analysis, consider becoming a paid subscriber today.
When Republicans in the Tennessee legislature voted to expel two young, Black members—Justin Jones and Justin Pearson—I couldn’t help but note some historical parallels.
In my latest for CNN Opinion, I talk about the “Redeemers” of the late 19th century. They, too, used the political process to severely curtail Black political participation and cement their power.
Here’s an excerpt from the article…
I teach African American history at Simmons College of Kentucky, a historically Black college (HBCU) in Louisville. This week, we’ve been studying the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of the Jim Crow period of US history.
In the late 19th century, White, Southern Democrats (then the party of White supremacy and segregation) dubbed themselves the “Redeemers,” a group whose goal was to “save” the South from Northern carpetbaggers and newly freed Black people.
The so-called Redeemers took over state legislatures with the primary goals of disenfranchising Black voters, barring Black people from holding political office, and establishing a politics that would render the White power structure impervious to disruption.
When Republicans in the Tennessee House of Representatives voted this week to expel two Black members — Justin Jones and Justin Pearson — they revealed their resemblance to the anti-democratic, authoritarian Redeemers of more than a century ago.
I also had to note the theological implications of the term “Redeemer.” How salient this week of Holy Week and the day before Easter.
Those words, redemption and redeemer, are significant.
This is Holy Week in the Christian religion. Events such as Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday culminate in the observance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. These liturgies commemorate the redemption — Jesus paying the price for humanity’s sin.
In many Christian traditions, redemption is a sacred theological principle that undergirds the hope of salvation. It is likely that many of the Tennessee Republican lawmakers will attend church this Sunday to celebrate the redemption that Easter heralds.
Easter provides the perfect opportunity for these lawmakers to ponder the true meaning of redemption and which redeemer they are following.
Read the full article HERE.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
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