East Boston resident Maria Perez to be honored by ABCD 

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Boston native and journalist Lawrence O’Donnell returns home to participate in a keynote conversation with Tennessee State Representative Justin J. Pearson of the “Tennessee Three”

East Boston
East Boston resident Maria Perez who will be honored on November 3 at the ABCD Community Heroes Celebration

(BOSTON, MA) – On Friday, November 3 at the Boston Marriott Copley Place, ABCD will honor East  Boston resident Maria Perez at Boston’s most empowering event, the ABCD Community Heroes Celebration – who as a partner, collaborator, and leader uplifts underserved and under-represented people throughout Greater Boston and who advocates for social justice and equity in all its forms. Perez is among 18 nominated from across the region by ABCD neighborhood centers and programs for their selfless contribution of time, energy, expertise and compassion

Boston native Lawrence O’Donnell, host of MSNBC’s The Last Word, and Tennessee State Representative Justin J. Pearson of the “Tennessee Threewill engage in a keynote conversation during the gala. Ronald M. Drucker, President of The Druker Company Ltd. is chair of the dinner committee, and NBC 10’s Glenn Jones will emcee the event. 

According to ABCD President and CEO Sharon Scott-Chandler, advocating with and empowering underserved and under-represented communities is part of the organization’s DNA. “Since our inception during the tumultuous 1960’s, ABCD has blazed a trail in every aspect of anti-poverty and social justice work in Greater Boston,” she said. “Society is once again at a tipping point. This crucial conversation between leaders and advocates who use their platforms to forward the dialogue about social issues is vital, and it will bolster our 2023 Community Heroes who are on the frontlines making a difference in communities throughout Greater Boston and the Mystic Valley.”  Scott-Chandler continued, “I am proud and honored to recognize all of our 2023 Community Heroes. ABCD doesn’t do this alone. Collaboration and community are at the core of our work and beliefs.”

This is a crucial time in society, much like 1960’s when ABCD became designated as Boston’s anti-poverty agency. We’ve had two major adverse Supreme Court decisions in the past year, gun violence is still an almost daily occurrence, the U.S. House of Representatives has been historically shaken and 2024 is a critical election year. In its role as an advocate for community change and development, ABCD is hosting this keynote conversation to encourage and embolden those on the frontlines of social justice, and to help articulate how everyday people can lift their voices and become civically engaged to improve not only their communities, but society at large.

Maria Perez volunteers with ABCD’s food access centers and has assisted with YEA! — ABCD’s two week summer civic engagement program for 13 year olds, of which her own daughter has been a participant. She said that she partners with ABCD because she believes in the organization’s mission and appreciates the Community Action Agency making her feel like one of their own. “ABCD made us feel like part of their family and never made us feel uneasy. Their inclusivity and warmth will always be appreciated.”

Dorchester native and Harvard College graduate Lawrence O’Donnell is the host of MSNBC’s The Last Word. An Emmy Award-winning executive producer and writer for The West Wing, earlier in his career he served as senior advisor to Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), chief of staff to the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works and the Senate Finance Committee. O’Donnell is the author of Deadly Force and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times among others.  

Representative Justin J. Pearson – one of the “Tennessee Three” – rose to prominence in April 2023 after being expelled from the Tennessee legislature along with another Black Democrat, Representative Justin Jones, following a peaceful protest for gun safety in response to a mass school shooting. Their shocking expulsion was possible due a disciplinary rule only used twice since the 1800’s, while Representative 

Gloria Johnson, who is white, was spared although she also participated in the peaceful protest. Both Mr. Pearson and Mr. Jones were reinstated and went on to win the general election last summer.

Mr. Pearson also has roots in Boston. Upon graduation from Bowdoin College, he served as special assistant to the CEO at Year Up, a national workforce development nonprofit that focuses on social, racial and economic justice, and attended the Union United Church in the South End where he still Zooms services regularly. At the start of COVID, Mr. Pearson returned to Memphis and co-founded Memphis Community Against the Pipeline, a Black-led environmental justice organization that successfully defeated a multi-billion dollar crude oil pipeline project that would have poisoned Memphis’s drinking water and stolen land from South Memphis residents. He is also President and founder of Memphis Community Against Pollution (MCAP). 

Learn more about the 2023 Community Heroes Celebration here along with a complete list of the 2023 ABCD Community Heroes.

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