Justin J. Pearson
In the most recent evolution of Black protest movements, it’s almost easy to forget the roots that the fight for social justice and equity in this country has in the Deep South. After all, the largest and most well-publicized protests against police brutality–the context of much of early aughts protest–happened in places like Ferguson, Missouri; Minneapolis and New York City, places that were never officially segregated. But Justin J. Pearson, an actor and activist with his own roots in Memphis, reminds us that the path to justice is still paved through the south. Pearson founded Memphis Community Against the Pipeline, an advocacy group committed to halting the Byhalia Connection Pipeline that opponents said risked the safety of drinking water for up to a million people. While opposition to oil pipelines bubbles up whenever one is proposed, this one was different for two reasons: the effort was led by local Black leaders and, more importantly, it succeeded in actually getting the pipeline canceled.