After graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with a B.A. in English, Justin Perkins participated in an international service corps program with the Lutheran World Federation located in Montevideo, Uruguay. There, he worked closely with a grassroots organization called Claves, whose work focused on promoting children’s rights, advocating for gender justice, and organizing politically to spread awareness and combat issues of domestic assault, sexual violence, human trafficking, and femicidio—all in the context of Latin America and the Caribbean. He also had the opportunity to work on a documentary film covering the role of religious communities during the Uruguayan and Argentinian dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s, who were pivotal to organizing acts of civil disobedience and subversion against the militarized state. “Not only was I immersed in a community seeking to transform society, but I produced several essays in the format of newsletters sent to readers from my own community in the U.S., allowing me to reflect more deeply on this experience through a theological lens,” he writes.
In 2017, Perkins moved to Chicago to work as an intern with the independent magazine In These Times. He has since embarked on dispatch assignments, covering Native communities in Minnesota and Nebraska, reporting on a group of horseback riders who each year commemorate the memory of 38 Dakota warriors hanged by Abraham Lincoln—the largest mass execution in U.S. history—to an alliance of Native tribes and Nebraska farmers organizing to protect the Ogallala Aquifer and Great Plains land from construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. In the fall of 2019, he plans to begin work in the Masters of Divinity program at the University of Chicago Divinity School.