In 2016, we have an opportunity to commemorate and celebrate some important environmental justice milestones and work on finishing other struggles. The Flint water crisis unfolding today provides a textbook case for why we must build justice and equal protection into environmental decision making. It’s time to stand with communities endangered by environmental injustice and the principle of profit over people. Let’s make 2016 the year of justice.
“Dumping in Dixie,” the first book to chronicle environmental justice struggles in the United States, turns 25. Although the book dealt with black communities in the South fighting against the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, residential apartheid and environmental racism, over the last quarter century “Dumping in Dixie” environmental justice framing has translated to larger race and class struggles in the United States and around the world.
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.
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.
The Board of Directors of the National Sierra Club announced on Tuesday July 29 it had created the Dr. Robert Bullard Environmental Justice Award to be given annually to an individual or group that has done outstanding work in the area of environmental justice.
It has now been twenty years since President Bill Clinton signed the Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.” The Executive Order has survived three presidents. Although it has never been fully implemented, there are some positive signs at the executive level that environmental justice is back on the federal radar.
This Tuesday February 11 will mark the twentieth anniversary of the Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898 signed by President Bill Clinton. Environmental justice leaders from all across the country will commemorate the historic signing of the Executive Order with mixed emotions. A team of researcher at Texas Southern University will release a new report, “Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones, 1964-2014,” that tracks the Environmental Justice Movement over the past five decades, beginning with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The vast majority of environmental justice leaders two decades ago preferred to have environmental justice codified in law. However, that did not happen. They recognize the Environmental Justice Movement did not start with the Executive Order nor was it driven by government action. The 20-year commemoration is a time for grassroots-led movement leaders to reflect on how far they have come and where they are going.
In 1986 Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a U.S. federal holiday and is celebrated across the nation. The federal holiday is held on the third Monday of January and is seen as a day for Americans to promote equal rights and justice for all, regardless of their background, and to volunteer their time in some civic action groups.
The year 2014 has special significance as a landmark year for civil rights and social justice. It marks the 60th anniversary of the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision, 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act 1964 Civil Rights Act, and 20th anniversary of the 1994 Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898. Let’s make 2014 the “Year of Unsung Heroes and Sheroes.”
It is always nice to receive an honor and an award for one’s work. This weekend I will be traveling to San Francisco, one of my favorite cities, to accept the Sierra-Club 2013 John Muir Award, the Club’s top award. Founded in 1892 by Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and David Brower, the Sierra Club is…