“No, You’re Not Going to Shut Me Up”

The Day Rep. Renitta Shannon Wouldn’t Sit Down for Georgia’s Abortion Ban

Rep. Renitta Shannon refuses to stop her one-woman filibuster on March 7, 2019, despite pleas from Democratic colleagues. Courtesy of Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP.

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“No, You’re Not Going to Shut Me Up”

The Day Rep. Renitta Shannon Wouldn’t Sit Down for Georgia’s Abortion Ban

by Cynthia R. Greenlee, Renitta Shannon
Southern Cultures, Vol. 26, No. 3: The Women’s Issue

“I got to about twelve minutes, and the Speaker said the lady needs to wrap up her speech. And I just kept talking over the Speaker. So then about a minute later, the Speaker cut my mic.”

First things first: Representative Renitta Shannon, who represents Georgia’s 84th district in the state’s legislature, was raised a PK—a preacher’s kid. In her father’s Primitive Baptist church—one so doggedly literal that it frowned upon 11 a.m. Sunday communion because the practice debuted at the Last Supper, that world-changing evening meal—she absorbed and sometimes questioned the contradictory. White Jesus floating above Black parishioners. The faithful women of the flock barred from the pulpit. Her father, a conservative pastor who took his children to protest George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” policy. The imperative and power of “testifying” in the Black evangelical lexicon: speaking one’s truth—even, and especially, painful, self-implicating truths—before an audience of witnesses.

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