Tennessee State Rep. John DeBerry, a longtime Democrat who has represented Memphis for 26 years, unloaded on violent rioters who are burning cities down across the U.S. and also took a shot at people who are “too frightened to stand up and protect our own stuff.”
DeBerry told Fox News that he’s “appalled” when people try to compare Black Lives Matter to the civil rights movement, saying “there is absolutely no comparison.”
DeBerry, during an impassioned speech at the Tennessee House of Representatives, gave the following remarks earlier this month:
I rise because I continue to hear references to what I saw in growing up in this country and growing up in the state of Tennessee as I walked with my father and worked with my father here in the state of Tennessee and Memphis, Tennessee, and across this state and across this country in the middle of what has been referenced to on several occasions, the civil rights movement.
And, you know, people continue to refer to this, but I saw it. I saw men and women stand with courage and integrity and class, and they changed the world. They changed the world because what the world could see in them was the lie that was being told about them.
I am one of those individuals who walked in back doors because the law said I had to. I’m one of those individuals who rode on the back of the bus, on the back seats that were not cushioned, because the law said I had to. I went to the water and drank ‘colored’ water because the law said I had to. I went to a school where everybody looked like me, and the country was divided and segregated, because the law said that I had to. So, all of these things we continue to refer to are the things that me and my generation lived. We saw it for ourselves. We’re not reading it in the history books, but we lived it.
I went with my father when he and our neighbor got one of those “I am a man” signs, and went downtown Memphis and watched him stand there proudly with Dr. King and other men and women—black and white—who had enough courage to stand up against what was wrong.
And the way they did it, they had on their suits, their shirts, their ties, their hats and, if it was cold, their overcoats. They locked arms and they marched peacefully, and Dr. King stood for that which was peaceful because the world took a look at what was happening in Memphis and Chicago and Detroit and Washington, D.C., and all over this country.
We changed the entire world. And we changed it because those men and women had enough guts, integrity, enough citizenship and love of country because my father was a Korean War-era soldier as many of those other men and women were.
They didn’t beg for anything. They didn’t beg for citizenship; they demanded it because they were American citizens who paid taxes, who raised children, who paid house notes and rent, and did everything that they were supposed to do so that they could demand from this country and its Constitution those things that they were supposed to have.
How did they do it?
They did it by standing like men and women of integrity and class and common sense and values.
When the riots started and folks started burning stuff down, that’s when my father took my arm and we left. We left because that was not what we were there for. That was not what Dr. King was there for. That was not what others who are famous in the civil rights days were there for.
This was not peaceful. It was not part of our movement, and it only hurt everything.
My family raised money and sent my dad to Washington for that march when that man stood there and said that he wanted his children judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
And all we do in America right now is talk about color. Every issue, every issue is about race, it’s about color instead of us sitting down at the table like men and women of common sense and common justice, and understanding that our enemies are looking with a greedy vigilance upon us as we tear ourselves apart internally.
They have been watching us for 50 years, preparing step by step by step by step for us to kill ourselves.
And I may not be back here next year, and I’m sure everything I say is going to be misconstrued and misquoted and used against me in November. Fine. Fine, because I stand for my father’s legacy. I stand for the men and women who acted like they had some sense and some courage, and changed this country by being men and women who stood for something.
If we don’t start standing for something, don’t you know that the people who are looking at what’s happening in Washington and Detroit and Portland and Seattle, they’re getting emboldened because we act like a bunch of punks, too frightened to stand up and protect our own stuff.
You tell me that somebody got the right to tear down property that Tennessee taxpayers paid for, that American taxpayers paid for and somebody has the right to destroy it, deface it, and tear it down? What kind of people have we become that we can’t protect our own stuff?
Peaceful protest ends peacefully. Anarchy ends in chaos. And what we see happening right now, any of us with any common sense, any common sense whatsoever, know that what we see is not peaceful.
So, we can continue to fool ourselves and mix with words and use rhetoric and public relations in order to frost this stuff over and put a nice picture on what we see that is frightening, frightening.
I have a nephew who is a policeman who talked about getting attacked the other night.
You’re telling me that somebody has the right to throw feces and urine in the face of those that we as taxpayers pay to protect us, and that’s okay?
What has happened to us?
If we don’t get this right right now, I’ve got grandchildren. I don’t want to see the country we’re going to have five, ten, fifteen, twenty years from now if we don’t start acting like we got some guts, right now—brethren, sisteren, friends, colleagues—right now.
MUST SEE: Democratic state Rep. John Deberry Jr. delivers an incredibly powerful speech on race in America. pic.twitter.com/Q34HouVGYC
— MRCTV (@mrctv) August 24, 2020