Coreco Ja'Quan Pearson|
July 31, 2002
Augusta, Georgia, U.S.
|Residence||Grovetown, Georgia, U.S.|
|Education||Evans High School (2016–present)|
|Occupation||Political activist · freelance journalist · pundit|
Coreco Ja'Quan “CJ" Pearson (born July 31, 2002) is an American political activist and commentator, and freelance journalist. He has made appearances on television and on YouTube, with his publications seen in a variety of online news sources.
Born in Augusta, Georgia to a Democratic family, Pearson was raised in Grovetown. His political interest deepened at age eight, when he starting posting blog post in support of local conservative politicians. He embarked on a career as an internet personality when, in early 2015, he uploaded a video to YouTube defending comments made by former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani and criticism of former President Barack Obama, which quickly gained international attention. After the aforementioned event, he began his career as a freelance journalist and has campaigned for several Republican politicians and Bernie Sanders.
Pearson describes himself as an "anti-establishment populist" and is described as conservative, though has renounced the term "conservative" to describe his political views. He is the executive director of Young Georgians in Government and executive director of Teens for Trump.
Early life and education
Pearson was born as Coreco Ja'Quan Pearson on July 31, 2002, in Augusta, Georgia, his parents registered Democrat. In 2012, his family moved to Grovetown where Pearson attended Columbia Middle School. He was elected student body president in seventh grade, though he stepped down in order to form the Young Georgians in Government political group and participate in other political activities. In 2016, he started attending Evans High School as a freshman. He lives with his grandparents, Willie and Robin Pearson.
Pearson first became interested in politics when his first grade class held a mock presidential election, representing that of the 2008 United States presidential election. Pearson states that the class was instructed to research the political views of then-U.S. Senator from Illinois Barack Obama who ran as the Democratic presidential nominee (and who became the 44th U.S. president) and Senator from Arizona John McCain who ran as the Republican presidential nominee. He voted for John McCain in the mock election, because he was inspired by McCain's military service, and began following political news topics. At the age of eight, he started blogging in support of different conservative politicians in Georgia and participated in political campaigning in the 2014 United States midterm elections, conducting door-to-door and telephone surveys. After the 2014 midterm elections, Pearson founded a political group named Young Georgians in Government, to involve young people in the "political process and develop solutions for government."
In February 2015, Pearson received international media attention which led him to embark in his career in politics and journalism, after he created a YouTube channel on February 21, 2015, and two days later posted a video, "President Obama: Do you really love America?" in which he defended former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani about the comments Giuliani had made criticizing former President Barack Obama. Pearson also criticized Obama, saying, "If you really did love America, you would call (Islamic State) what it really is: an assault on Christianity, an assault on America and downright hate for the American values that our country holds—freedom of speech, freedom of religion and every single thing that our country stands for". The video received more than half a million views in its first two days and by June 2015 had logged nearly two million views, with it receiving both praise and criticism.
Pearson, in March 2015, began promoting his own constitutional amendment to lower the age restriction for assuming public office in Georgia to age 18 in the House and age 21 in the Senate. He has acquired seven co-sponsors for the bill, including State Representatives Ben Harbin, Barry Fleming, and Buzz Brockway.
During the 2016 United States presidential election, Pearson has campaigned for several different Republican presidential nominees. In April 2015, he campaigned for United States Senator from Kentucky Rand Paul's presidential campaign, said that Paul has a "unique ability" to connect with millennials. Later that year, in September 2015, Pearson left Paul's campaign and joined United States Senator from Texas Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, and Cruz named Pearson as national chairman of "Teens for Ted", with Cruz commenting “Young people are looking for someone who does more than just talk a good game. They want someone who has walked the walk,” Pearson after Cruz had dropped out said that he disavowed conservatism. Pearson the endorsed Bernie Sanders and then when Sanders dropped out he joined now-President Donald Trump's presidential campaign as national chairman of Teens for Trump.
Journalism and writing
Pearson is a freelance journalist, and his publications have appeared on TIME, The Huffington Post, MTV News, The Daily Beast, among others, and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. Pearson also has his own website, where he posts regular blogs.
Over the timeline of Pearson's career, he has changed political views and has changed support from candidate to candidate in the 2016 United States presidential election. Pearson, when first embarking on a political commentator career after the viral YouTube video he made in February 2015, described himself as conservative in addition to the media.
In November 2015, Pearson changed his political views, and "renounced conservatism" and was questioning the ideology of the Republican Party, stating that "My views on the issues aren't going to be dictated by one political platform or another." In December 2015, Pearson endorsed United States Senator from Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders for President of the United States in the 2016 elections. Pearson stated, "People are struggling in America. We need the right man in the White House. And in my opinion, that man is Senator Bernie Sanders." Later that month, Pearson published an article for MTV criticizing Trump and his presidential campaign, stating that the thought of a Trump presidency "...scares the crap out of me,"
In August 2016, Pearson published an article in TIME in support of Trump, noting that his political views have changed drastically since 2015. He also noted that he supported Sanders and now Trump because, in his view, their campaign platforms had a lot of similarity. Pearson states that is an "anti-establishment populist" and is a Christian. However, as of 2018, he describes himself on his Twitter feed as "fighting for a bold conservative future."
White House–Twitter feud
On September 23, 2015, Pearson claimed that he was blocked from President Barack Obama's official presidential social media account on Twitter, due to comments he made criticizing Obama for inviting Ahmed Mohamed to the White House after Mohamed was suspended for bringing an invention to school. Official White House assistant press secretary Frank Benenati made a statement that no one has ever been blocked from Obama's account, with other users on Twitter challenging Beneati's statement regarding the matter. Pearson denounced the claim made by the White House, stated that they were lying about him. "They lied about Benghazi," he said, "They lied about the IRS. They lie about every issue of importance to the American people." A subsequent tweet by Pearson revealed that he was still following the personal Twitter account of Obama, and there was no timestamp or external information on the screenshoted tweet. In addition to the White House denying the claims made by Pearson, Oliver Darcy, a reporter for The Blaze, reported the incident to be false. When blocked by an account on Twitter, the blocked user can't see the tweets of the account that blocked them, but it was seen that Pearson was still following the presidential Twitter account Obama, in contradiction to earlier claims. The screenshot provided by Pearson in support of his claim, was deemed to be an edited photo that another user posted. He was asked to comment, and stated that he "...refuse[d] to engage in conspiracy theories.”
Facebook account removal
On March 3, 2015, Facebook removed the personal account of Pearson. He then posted on social media, accusing them of quelling dissent towards former President Barack Obama. Facebook responded and stated that a person must be at least 13 to have an account on their website, a policy clearly stated in their user agreements. Pearson accused Facebook of "removing conservative accounts after they decide to speak up" on an interview with Fox & Friends and Fox DC.
Change in political views
Pearson has been criticized for his vacillating political views, and has been noted as "craving attention". Erick Erickson, a writer for RedState, stated that "core beliefs at that age are more a reflection of your parents’ politics or your rebellion against your parents’ politics." further making a comment to Pearson, "You don’t have a world view." Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks stated that he admired the fact that Pearson cared about news and politics, but stated that his worldview will change over time.
- After gaining international attention for his response to the comments made by former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani about former President Barack Obama, Pearson identified as conservative in addition to media identifying him as such. However, on November 28, 2015, he renounced conservatism and has stepped "away from the label..." Pearson states on his official website that he is an "anti-establishment populist"
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- "General Assembly; age requirements for members; lower". Georgia General Assembly. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
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- "Cruz names CJ Pearson as national chairman of "Teens for Ted"". Cruz for President. September 8, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
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- CNN, Tal Kopan. "Viral teen YouTube star renounces conservatism". CNN. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
- "13-Year-Old Viral Sensation C.J. Pearson Disavows Conservatism — Here's Who He 'Could Get Behind'". TheBlaze. 2015-11-27. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
- http://www.washingtontimes.com, The Washington Times. "C.J. Pearson, ex-conservative poster child, endorses Bernie Sanders". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
- Hensch, Mark (2015-12-09). "Former conservative teen YouTube star backs Sanders". TheHill. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
- Pearson, CJ (August 30, 2016). "I'm a Young Black Man and I Support Donald Trump". Time. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- "CJ Pearson: freelance journalist and political pundit". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Zorthian, Julia (September 19, 2015). "Meet 13-Year-Old Conservative Activist CJ Pearson". TIME. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Scott, Eugene (December 9, 2015). "Right to left: Ex-conservative teen YouTube star backs Sanders". CNN. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Pearson, CJ (December 16, 2015). "I'm 13 And Donald Trump Becoming President Scares The Crap Out Of Me". MTV News. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- "Political views of CJ Pearson". cjpearson.com. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Pearson, CJ (October 2, 2015). "#YesImAChristian and I have no apologies". YouTube. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Weigel, David (September 25, 2015). "Why did a 13-year-old conservative star apparently hoax the White House?". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Leslie, Jennifer; Wolfe, Julie (September 18, 2015). "Ga. teen blasts White House invite of Ahmed Mohamed". USA Today. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- King, Michael (September 24, 2015). "White House denies blocking teen critic on Twitter". USA Today. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Pearson, CJ (September 23, 2015). "My response to the White House" (video). Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Darcy, Oliver (September 24, 2015). "Fact Check: Did Obama Really Block a 13-Year-Old Conservative Critic on Twitter?". TheBlaze. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Nye, James (March 3, 2015). "Facebook REMOVES 12-year-old black middle school pupil's account for 'suspicious activity' after he made popular video criticizing Obama". The Daily Mail. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- "12-year-old conservative takes political world by storm" (video). Fox News. March 1, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Erickson, Erick (December 9, 2015). "Dear CJ Pearson: Shut Up". RedState. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- "Teenage Conservative C.J. Pearson Takes On Obama". The Young Turks. September 24, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2017.