MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell and Tennessee State Representative Justin J. Pearson offer Community Heroes Celebration keynote conversation

In November, ABCD honored 18 people — educators, health professionals, artists, nonprofit leaders and parents who are doing yeoman’s work on behalf of underserved people — children, families, elders and the unhoused in Greater Boston and the Mystic Valley, and who advocate for social justice and equity in all its forms. A complete list of the 2023 ABCD Community Heroes is available here.

A week before the gala tragedy struck  –– another mass shooting, this time in Lewiston, Maine, just 30 minutes from Bowdoin College, Representative Pearson’s alma mater. O’Donnel and Representative J. Pearson stoked fire and passion in the bellies and hearts of audience members, expressed compassion for Heroes and attendees who have lost loved ones to gun violence and encouraged civic engagement for the betterment of society. The crowd was stoked indeed, giving O’Donnell and Representative Pearson a standing ovation. Watch the inspiring keynote conversation here.

NBC 10’s Glenn Jones served as emcee, and Lynn native Amanda Mena, grand prize winner on La Voz Kids and Golden Buzzer winner on America’s Got Talent who is known for her hit song “Soy Latina,” performed. View the gala photo gallery here.

Representative Justin J. Pearson – one of the “Tennessee Three” rose to national prominence in April 2023 after being expelled from the Tennessee legislature along with another Black Democrat, Representative Justin Jones and Representative Gloria Johnson following a peaceful protest for gun safety after another mass school shooting. Representative 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.

Emmy Award-winning executive producer and writer for The West Wing, Lawrence O’Donnell 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. He is the author of Deadly Force and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times among others.