The Tennessee Education Association’s Johnella H. Martin Ethnic Minority Affairs Conference (EMAC) will be held March 22-23 at Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel in Memphis, TN. Conference check-in will begin at 4:00 p.m. CST on Friday, March 22.


The conference will open with dinner and remarks from our featured guest, Representative Justin J. Pearson. Attendees are encouraged to wear apparel that reflects their cultural heritage, but that is not required. The opening session begins at 7:00pm on Friday, March 22.


Saturday's breakout sessions are designed to build competency in the areas of leadership, relationship building, and honesty in curriculum--all rooted in racial and social justice. Valuable sessions focusing on supporting grieving students and one’s personal well-being will be included. Certificates of attendance will be provided upon the completion of all session evaluations.

We look forward to seeing you in Memphis!


Featured Guest


Justin J. Pearson is a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, representing District 86, a sprawling area along the Mississippi River, spanning from south Memphis through downtown and north to Millington, TN. 

A community organizer, Pearson became the second youngest lawmaker serving in the Tennessee House of Representatives when he was elected to office January 24, 2023, at the age of 28. He is a community organizer and servant leader who prioritizes the needs of the people. When a mass shooter took the lives of six persons–three of them 9-year-olds–at The Covenant School in Nashville, TN March 27, 2023, Pearson, along with fellow state representatives Justin Jones and Gloria Johnson, staged a protest for common sense gun legislation on the Tennessee House floor. Republicans retaliated by expelling Pearson and Jones April 6, 2023. Local authorities in Memphis and Nashville reinstated the legislators several days later, Pearson on April 12.  Pearson ran for the office again, handily winning back the seat Aug. 3, 2023, with nearly 94 percent of the vote.

A proud native Memphian, Pearson is the fourth son of five boys born to teenage parents. He graduated from Mitchell High School as valedictorian and attended Bowdoin College in Maine where he graduated in 2017 with degrees in both Government & Legal Studies and Education Studies. He later served as Special Assistant to the CEO at Year Up, a national workforce development non-profit in Boston, MA, that focuses on social, racial, and economic justice. During the pandemic, Pearson returned home to Memphis where he co-founded Memphis Community Against the Pipeline (MCAP), now known as Memphis Community Against Pollution. MCAP, through Pearson’s leadership and the efforts of a coalition of residents and community organizations from across Memphis, 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.

Pearson’s advocacy and leadership inspired The Sierra Club to recognize him as the 2023 National Changemaker of the Year and The Root to declare him as one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans in 2022. Pearson is a devout Christian and tireless champion for justice. He is engaged to his partner in life and the struggle for justice, Oceana R. Gilliam of Los Angeles, California.


What to Know Before You Register

Conference attendees are responsible for making their own hotel reservations. 


You will need to pre-select your sessions. View the agenda and a list of sessions here.