Featured Reflection
Justin Jones: "I sang the entire time"

"Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou annointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
(Psalm 23:5-6)

Being able to connect with the presence and care of God when we are in peril is a powerful spiritual resource. In his book, The People's Plaza: Sixty-Two Days of Nonviolent Resistance, Representative Justin Jones of Tennessee describes how he found strength even in the most frightening times of being intimidated by law enforcement officers as he witnessed for racial justice outside the capital building in Nashville:

"No matter how many times these raids happened, they never became routine, never something one got used to. They were traumatizing and frightening. My body was in constant fight-or-flight mode. The next few nights I woke up periodically to check if troopers were surrounding me.

"I was arrested alone a few days later. A group of us were holding signs and chanting on the upper Plaza, right at the barricades facing the capitol. It was evening, after our General Assembly.

"This time I was singled out. They only arrested me.... They brought me to the basement of the capitol to fill out paperwork and then to the jail for booking. I sang the entire time, when they handcuffed and took me away, while they filled out paperwork in the basement, and on the ride in the back of the police car to the jail. I sang and prayed. I knew they wanted me to feel alone, so I did everything I could to connect with the Divine and my ancestors. Hours later, I was released.

"The more times they arrested us, the less fear there was about it. They took the power out of their ultimate threat by making it routine. The troopers could terrorize us at any time of day or night, and arrest us, but beyond that, what could they do? We collectively showed more strength and power by staying, and having the resilience to repair, rebuild, and return after every raid. It was daily resurrection at the doorsteps of state power--power that did not understand that while their authority was dominant, it was not ultimate."

Amen and Amen.


This excerpt is from The People's Plaza: Sixty-Two Days of Nonviolent Resistance, by Justin Jones, published by Vanderbilt University Press, 2022, Nashville, Tennessee, pages 82-83.