An Open Letter to “Friends of Diversity” from a Veteran Environmental Justice Educator

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PCM HBCU Climate Change Initiative Pic NYC2014

Dear Friends of Diversity,

I want to make you aware of our HBCU Climate Change Consortium that Dr. Beverly Wright at Dillard University New Orleans) and I at Texas Southern University launched in 2011.  This HBCU Consortium builds on the cross-disciplinary community-university partnerships and community based participatory research (CBPR) approach carried out long before these approaches had a name. For decades, our HBCUs have “talked the talked… and walked the walk” on diversity by educating and training the next generation of leaders across various disciplines. Yet, our schools and ethnic based environmental and climate justice organizations receive little funding for this effort. Nevertheless, this work is too important to allow lack of resources to stop us. It is for this expressed purpose, a number of my colleagues and I chose to leave our cushy jobs at PWIs (predominately white institutions) and return to HBCUs. We were not under any illusion that it would be easy or glamourous. For us, it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it. No regrets!

A Plea to Support Black Student Leaders Attend COP21 in Paris

We are making preparation to take a delegation of students and faculty mentors to participate in the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties 21st convening (COP21) in Paris, France from November 30, 2015 through December 11, 2015. We currently have a GoFundMe HBCU Road to Paris fundraising campaign underway to raise $150,000 toward this effort.  Our goal is to send one faculty mentor and two students representing each of the 22 participating HBCUs to the conference in Paris. In support of diversity, we are seeking support and a few dollars from our friends to make this happen. Please give!!

Moving Diversity Beyond Color-Coordinating the Green Groups

While we value Green 2.0 and other groups effort efforts to diversify the Green Groups, we also value with equal fervor the need for equitable funding of people of color institutions, consortia, networks and NGOs. We welcome Green 2.0 and its advisors to mount a proactive campaign to ensure funding diversity is given parity with diversifying the green groups. These views are presented in a March 2015 OpEdNews piece entitled “A Call to Diversify Green Groups and Equitable Funding for People of Color Environmental Justice Groups.” We would like to see Green 2.0 leaders and its advisors step up and give voice to the importance of funding groups that represent the emerging people of color majority in the United States—and not wait until the “magic year” 2042.

HBCU Climate Change Consortium is on the Move

Here is an update on our HBCU Climate Change Consortium. Since 2011, our Consortium has supported hundreds of HBCU faculty, students and leaders from climate-vulnerable communities participate in a number of important domestic and international gatherings including:

A Call to Support HBCU Climate Change Consortium Infrastructure Development

Finally, our Consortium is also seeking support for growing and strengthening our institutional infrastructure to support environmental and climate education and training, research and policy and civic engagement work—all viewed through an equity and justice lens. This work takes resources.  Our goal is to work with all 104 HBCUs—that stretch from Pennsylvania to California. We would love the opportunity to chat and explore in more depth our Consortium and our vision going forward. Our Consortium is unique in that it provides a regional infrastructure to assist and support place-based climate justice work happening across the Gulf Coast and South Atlantic.

We welcome your thoughts, ideas and support. We are determined to make a difference—mentoring and instilling confidence and competence in our young emerging leaders to take on and find solutions to local and global challenges.

Upward and onward!


Robert D. Bullard, Educator

Author: Dr. Robert Bullard

Dr. Bullard is the lead author and principal investigator on several new book projects and research undertakings that address environmental health, energy, transportation, climate justice, and racial equity.

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