Justin Pearson refuses to remain silent, despite the best attempts of the Tennessee House of Representatives to censor him. “The message for all the people in Nashville who decided to expel us: You can’t expel hope,” Pearson said after reinstatement to the House. “You can’t expel justice. You can’t expel our voice. And you sure can’t expel our fight.”

Pearson’s parents knew he was destined for a future in activism and politics

Justin Pearson was born on 7th January 1995 to Reverend Jason Pearson and Kimberly Owens-Pearson. He grew up alongside three older brothers and one younger brother in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Jason and Kimberly were teenagers when they welcomed their first son. Both had divorced parents, so few expected their union would last. However, despite the struggle, the couple persevered and raised five sons. 

“People used to say that I would end up being on welfare, doing this, doing that,” Kimberly told the Tri-State Defender. “And the thing, the truth of the matter, is you can’t ever limit God.”

Jason saw the first glimpse of Pearson’s future as an activist and a politician when he ran for president in first grade. He stated that Pearson’s speech drew tears from teachers. “I had to go to be there to hear the speech and be his support,” Jason said. “That was the day I knew, ‘we got something’. There was something inside of him.”

At home, Pearson ministered to his siblings and cousins. “He had church at home and his brothers had to sit down, his cousins, and listen to him preach. So he has been preparing for this moment practically all of his life,” Jason added. 

As a sophomore in high school, Pearson protested at a school board meeting that he and other students weren’t getting textbooks. It turned out that the school had withheld the books in storage because it feared some students might misplace them. The school board punished the principal and ordered the distribution of the books. 

Pearson’s parents weren’t surprised seeing him leading a protest for gun-reform legislation. However, they were stunned and angered by the supermajority’s decision to expel Pearson. Kimberly told WREG Memphis:

“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. Those of us that are around with voices, we got to say something.”