Why HBCUs Must Lead on Climate Justice
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.