MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — You might think Justin J. Pearson just burst into the spotlight as an outspoken advocate, but those who know him say he’s been at it for years.
They say the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. For Justin J. Pearson, that tree is his mother Kimberly Owens-Pearson and father Jason Pearson. Now they’re getting attention as many wonder where their 29-year-old son gets his passion.
“The equities and disparities that were seen and he lived through, that’s why he uses his voice,” said Jason.
They said Justin has been speaking up and speaking out since he was a child running for kindergarten and first-grade President.
“So we go to school, we get up there, and Justin gives this speech. I look around. Teachers were crying,” his father recalled.
His dad knew then Justin had something special. He said his son even led the push to get textbooks for his school.
The Pearsons aren’t shy about how they raised Justin, the fourth of their five children. His mother, a lifelong teacher, and father, a long-time minister and pastor, point to the same disparities that have their son speaking out, like gun violence.
“The audacity to come and say you want him to be silenced because you don’t like him standing up for everyone for gun control. That’s asinine,” said Kimberly.
“Those of us that are around with voices, we got to say something,” said Jason.
When State leaders voted Pearson out of the legislature, his parents couldn’t believe it.
“I was pissed off. I was standing there watching somebody attempt to humiliate my son because you disagree with him on an issue. You want to silence him,” said Jason.
Now, their son has become the face of a movement of change who says he won’t back down. His parents wouldn’t have it any other way.
“There are no principalities that will ever dim his light or his smile because he is who he is, and that’s who he authentically is, and I always tell him ‘Thank you for being authentically you,'” his mother said.
Justin J. Pearson was also a leading voice in stopping a planned pipeline in Memphis after launching protests about the harm it could do to the community and the water system.