The Sum of Us

E2 | Memphis, TN: The Sweetest Water In The World

In 2020, Memphis residents began to hear rumors that a company called Plains All American was set to build a 49-mile oil pipeline through the city. At first, the pipeline appeared inevitable, planned to run through a “sacrifice zone” of all-Black neighborhoods that had already been poisoned by nearby heavy industry. But when local environmentalists discovered the pipeline would threaten Memphis’ prized drinking water, they joined forces with a charismatic 26-year old, Justin J. Pearson, to build a multi-racial coalition that united Black and white neighborhoods in this segregated city to protect their hometown’s treasured water.

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Host and Creator: Heather McGhee

Original Music and Theme Song by: Thee Sacred Souls 

Producers: Cassim Shepard, Ryan Kailath, Emilce Quiroz, Joaquin Cotler and Juan Diego Ramirez, with help from Liliana Ruiz, Sophia Lo, Susanna Kemp and Alissa Vladimir

Senior Producers: Nicole Rothwell, Jeanne Montalvo, and Fernanda Echavarri

Editors: Sandy Rattley and Maria Garcia

Mix Engineers: Stephanie Lebow and Julia Caruso

Researchers: Lynn Kanter and Carolyn Lipka

Executive Producer for Futuro Studios: Marlon Bishop

Executive producers for Higher Ground: Mukta Mohan, Dan Fierman, Anna Holmes, and Janae Marable

Editorial assistant for Higher Ground: Jenna Levin

Executive producers for Spotify: Daniel Ek, Dawn Ostroff, Julie McNamara and Corinne Gilliard 

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