Numerous studies have documented African Americans communities face a disproportionate share of environmental and health threats. It is for this simple reason the Environmental Justice Movement was born some three decades ago—a national movement born fighting environmental racism. Millions of African Americans look to the federal Environmental Protection Agency for equal environmental protection they have been denied by their state environmental agencies, many of whom have a long and sordid history of protecting polluters over protecting residents who live in industrial “sacrifice zones.” A weakened federal EPA is a recipe for disaster. Rolling-back or gutting environmental regulations is a roadmap for more trips to the emergency room for many Americans who live on the fenceline with polluting industries. We must resist all efforts to dismantle EPA and our nation’s environmental protection apparatus as if our lives depend upon on it—and they do.
Three Texas Southern University Mickey Leland Scholars are part of a 50-member delegation of student leaders and faculty mentors who will be attending the United Nations COP21 Climate Summit in Paris. The HBCU COP21 delegation includes 15 schools in states stretching from Texas to Pennsylvania.
The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Climate Change Consortium is sending a delegation of 50 student leaders and faculty mentors to the United Nations COP21 Climate Summit in Paris. The summit runs from November 30 to December 11, 2015 and will bring together more than 125 world leaders, international organizations and civil society to discuss plans to achieve a new international agreement on the climate. The HBCU COP21 delegation includes 15 schools in states stretching from Texas to Pennsylvania.
The HBCU Climate Change Consortium was founded to support environmental and climate education and training, research, policy and civic engagement work—all viewed through an equity and justice lens. It is also fundraising to send a delegation of young emerging African American leaders from black colleges to the COP21 climate meetings in Paris this December.
Houston environmental activist Juan Parras is the 2015 recipient of the Sierra Club Robert D. Bullard Environmental Justice Award. Since 2006, Mr. Parras has led Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services or T.e.j.a.s, Houston lone Latino environmental justice organization, in its quest for health, justice and sustainability in Houston’s most environmentally challenged communities.
Katrina and the Second Disaster: A 20-Point Plan to Destroy Black New Orleans Revisited After 10 Years
This August 29 will mark the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Now is a good time to revisit Katrina and the Second Disaster: A Twenty-Point Plan to Destroy Black New Orleans, a blog I wrote months after the disaster. Now after ten years, Katrina watchers, experts, urban planners, funders, government and nongovernment organizations, and community leaders point to some shocking statistics and trends: smaller African American footprint, rising income inequality, uptick in black child poverty, shortage of low-income housing, skyrocketing apartment rents, rampant housing discrimination, runaway neighborhood gentrification, and overall uneven recovery. While these outcomes are alarming, they should be no surprise given the array of decade-long policies built on preexisting racial inequality that preceded the 2005 storm. If you rebuild on inequality, you can expect more inequality—not less inequality.
A coalition of environmental and climate justice and civil rights leaders will hold a tribunal in Selma, AL on Saturday March 7 as part of the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of Jubilee Bridge Crossing. The tribunal will feature the testimonies of leaders from communities from across Alabama who will speak with jurists from around the country who are experienced in achieving environmental justice victories. The theme of the tribunal is “Change Is Gonna Come: Advancing an Environmental and Climate Justice Agenda in the South.” A strategy session will also be held to map out a “southern initiative” on climate justice.
A consortium of historically black colleges and universities, led by Dillard University’s Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and Texas Southern University Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, will host the Third Annual HBCU Student Climate Change Conference March 26-29 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Conference conveners this year will conduct workshops, teach-ins and hands-on training in preparation for an HBCU-led delegation to participate in the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP21) Paris climate summit set for November and December.
The Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Climate Initiative, a consortium of black colleges and community based organizations in the Gulf Coast and South Atlantic states, will hold a “teach-in” at the Global Climate Convergence at 10:45am – 12:15pm, September 20 (Empire State College, 325 Hudson Street, Room 544, New York, NY). The theme of the teach-in, “Building a Strong U.S. “Southern Initiative” to Address Climate Change and Community Resilience,” emphasizes educating and training leaders from low-wealth and people of color communities in the Gulf Coast and South Atlantic states about the causes, impacts and consequences of climate change, mitigation and adaptation strategies, and effective models for building and enhancing community resilience to disasters.
The nation’s 104 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) play a significant role in training African Americans and other leaders of color in all fields. More than 80 percent of the HBCUs are found in the Gulf Coast and South Atlantic region of the United States. Many southern communities where HBCUs are located and where they draw the vast majority of their students are at ground zero in the fight for climate justice. Climate-related disasters in the southern U.S. have outnumbered those in other regions of the U.S. annually in both scale and magnitude by a ratio of almost 4:1 during the past decade. The southern region is vulnerable not only because of its physical location and but also because of its high prevalence of concentrated poverty, uninsured households, income and wealth inequality, health care disparities, and food insecurity, combined to create a perfect storm of vulnerability if and when natural and human-made disasters strike. Given the region’s unique history, a “southern initiative” is needed to address climate vulnerability and develop strategies for building just and resilient communities.