Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

TN Politics: Quoting Dr. King, Republicans Spend the Week Doing the Opposite

Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 9.47.13 PM.png
Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn asks judicial nominee Andre Mathis about his "rap sheet" consisting of three speeding tickets from more than a decade ago.

Diluting the Black vote in Middle Tennessee, fast-tracking an ethics hearing for a Black legislator, and demanding that a Black court nominee explain his "rap sheet" (three speeding tickets) are among reasons African Americans were wondering why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. showed up in so many Republican tweets this week.

Political analyst Otis Sanford says Black voters in Middle Tennessee have a right to be angry after the state senate approved its map dividing Nashville's Black neighborhoods into three sections. Currently, Nashville Democrat Jim Cooper's constituency is nearly 30 percent African American.

But these newly drawn districts will ensure that people of color have virtually no political influence after being gerrymandered into districts that are more than 70 percent white and heavily weighted toward rural, white Republican voters. The Black vote in each of these districts will be reduced to between 9 and 16 percent.

Sanford says that just because a Republican has a small slice of urban community in his or her district does not mean any advocacy will be done on the part of citizens there. He notes that Congressman David Kustoff in the 8th District, who makes his home in Germantown, has moved farther to the right since taking office.

On Thursday, State Senator Katrina Robinson, a Democrat recently convicted of fraud, faced a senate ethics hearing, where she asked for a delay until her case had fully played out (she will be sentenced in March). But Republicans expedited the process, signaling to Democrats that race and party affiliation were behind the decisions.

Finally, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn was criticized for calling a Black nominee's three speeding tickets his "rap sheet," as if he were a convicted criminal. On Monday, Sen. Blackburn tweeted that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "vision to create a better tomorrow continues to teach and inspire us."

Reporting from the gates of Graceland to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Christopher's favorite haunt is the intersection of history and cultural change. He is WKNO's News Director and Senior Producer at the University of Memphis' Institute for Public Service Reporting. Join his conversations about the Memphis arts scene on the WKNO Culture Desk Facebook page.