The current Black Lives Matter protests continue the long struggle for justice. (Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash)

Justice Movement Includes the Environmental Movement

Civil rights are deeply intertwined with the pursuit of clean air, water, safe communities

The current uprising that we are witnessing and experiencing isn’t anything new under the sun.

Historically, protests have been an effective outlet for marginalized groups to be able to express frustration and demand equitable policy that impacts their well being.

The Civil Rights Movement, Stonewall, Occupation of Alcatraz and other seminal protest movements have all been noted as some of the largest demonstrations and movements in our country’s history, and all directly relate to the concept of “rights.”

One of the biggest mistakes made within the justice movement as a whole is the decision to segment out social, racial, environmental and economic justice, as if they are their own movements. When we review the history of these movements, particularly the environmental movement, it was crafted as a direct response to the outcry of Black and Indigenous activists, leaders, and community members who recognized that the impacts of environmental policy unfairly targets communities of color.

I see it where I work in North Carolina. It’s there as we struggle against CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) that are strategically placed in low income and/or communities of color in eastern North Carolina and continually contaminate our water ways.

It’s there in our fight against an energy monopoly that places an energy burden on its customers rather than paying for their own mishaps. It’s there as we oppose the construction of fracked gas pipelines, such as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline-Southgate, and as we call for the closing of coal plants located in the backyards of historically Black and Brown communities.

In these struggles and all of the other wonderful work being done at the Center, we must be clear that they all not only impact our ecosystems and threaten our wildlife, but also have continued to slowly deteriorate communities of color and low- income communities that are often ignored.



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Jovita Lee

Jovita Lee

NC State Campaigner — Center for Biological Diversity