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.
Dillard University and Texas Southern University convened the Third Annual HBCU Student Climate Change Conference in New Orleans on March 26-29. More than 200 students and faculty mentors from 19 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and community based organization leaders attended the four-day event. Consortium members developed a 6-month fund-raising plan to ensure a diverse number of students/faculty mentors and CBO leaders engage in on-the-ground activities leading up to the United Nations COP21 in Paris, France November 30 thru December 11, 2015.
A major study from Green 2.0 has once again brought national attention to the whiteness of mainstream environmental organizations. A major push is now underway to diversity these groups by adding more people of color to their boards and staff. However, diversifying white environmental organizations is only part of the solution. Diversifying funding to people of color and indigenous environmental organizations and institutions must be given equal weight in addressing current and future environmental challenges going forward as we transition to a majority people of color nation in the next thirty years.
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.
In order for the nation to make headway on the climate change front, we need our mainstream environmental organization friends and philanthropic allies who supported the People’s Climate March to join us in supporting the recommendations for diversifying funding and building an infrastructure of “grassroots” efforts, ethnic-based networks, and regional environmental and climate initiatives—better known as a Movement. That’s how we put together a winning team to effectively battle climate change, social vulnerability and build community resilience.
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.
Longtime environmental justice scholar, researcher and professor Paul Mohai was presented the 2014 Damu Smith Power of One Leadership Award this past weekend at the Second Annual HBCU Student Climate Change Conference held at Dillard University in New Orleans April 17-19. Professor Mohai is a professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan where he co-founded the Environmental Justice Program in the mid-1990s.
The Second Annual HBCU Climate Change Student Conference kicks off today and runs through Saturday April 19 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference is hosted by Dillard University Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and Texas Southern University Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs. All sessions are held on the Dillard campus except for the community tour that begins on Thursday afternoon.
Jacqui Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environmental Justice Climate Program, is the featured keynote speaker at the 2014 Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University Black History Month Lecture Series (Thursday February 27, 2014 6:30pm. – 114 McCoy Auditorium, Public Affairs Building, Houston, Texas).