A Revolutionary Mission for Race, Gender, and Climate Justice
By Katherine T. Egland
As we commemorate the anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendments and the contributions made by women to our democracy and towards gender equality, it is only fitting to shed light on the paths set for us by racial and gender justice pioneers like our beloved Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman to serve in the US Congress. There is no better way to honor the legacy of those whose shoulders we stand on than to do so by uplifting those who are risking it all to plot and carry on the unfinished business of ensuring liberation, justice, and equality for us all. It is in this vein, that we lift up our sister, Jacqui Patterson, Founder and Executive Director of The Chisholm Legacy Project (TCLP), founded just a little over two years ago.
In aspiring to honor the bold and visionary leadership of Shirley Chisholm, Jacqui Patterson, stepped out on faith, embarking on a revolutionary mission to push for race, gender, and climate justice that tackles the reality that Black women in the US and the global south, continue to endure the disproportionate impacts of the climate crisis. Whether it be gender-based violence faced by women who are forced to migrate across borders because of climate-induced shifts in agricultural yields or reproductive health impacts of women living near coal-fired plants, our issue and concerns have been ignored for far too long and/or discussed at tables where we were not present, to speak our own truths. Black femmes are most often the first to be called upon and the last to be supported in this movement work.
Through Jacqui’s decades of lived and “on the ground” experience in Black frontline communities, including serving as the founding NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Director, she recognized the toll that being on the frontlines of the movement has, especially, on the well-being of Black femmes. In the spirit of being unbought and unbossed, as Shirley Chisholm was known, The Chisholm Legacy Project seeks to be a vehicle that transforms the reality of black liberation and climate justice, while centering black women at the table. It was on July 1, 2021that Jacqui introduced to us a movement that was decades in the making, The Chisholm Legacy Project is A movement rooted in a Just Transition 0Framework and intended to serve as a vehicle to connect Black communities on the frontlines of climate justice with resources to traverse the path from vision to strategy to an action plan to implementation to transformation.
As Jacqui spoke with comrades in the struggle, she realized that this was the movement that so many of us dreamed about and would enhance the significant work of others who are already engaged. On March 1, 2022, while quietly celebrating her late mother’s birthday, Jacqui introduced to the world what she had given birth to An organization ready and yet sharpening itself to lead the work of supporting Black frontline leadership, linking movements and mainstream entities with the tools necessary to advance systems change centered in equity and justice. TCLP’s Resource Hub, which features resources to holistically support Black climate justice leadership resisting extractive activities and creating regenerative and democratic systems in their communities was also unveiled on March 1, 2022. And on July 1, 2022, TCLP launched Policy for the People, a policy database that features policies to support frontline black climate justice leaders. TCLP has added Black Femme and Wellness programming to ensure that Black femme leaders have the support they need as they transform society from one that centers extractive behaviors to a living economy that cares for sacred relationships between people and with Mother Earth, through regenerative, cooperative, democratic systems.
Jacqui’s vision is one that our ancestors and our shero Shirley Chisholm would be proud of! A movement that will be sure to catalyze the bold and transformative changes we need for justice, equality, and ultimately Black liberation. One that is led by the lived experience and expertise of those most impacted by environmental and climate injustices. One that seeks to provide economic opportunity for those who have contributed greatly to the building of this country but are systematically stripped of the wealth produced by their labor. A movement that advances Black liberation and a Just Transition framework that shifts economic and political power from an extractive to a regenerative economy while centering the well-being of Black femme in doing so. TCLP, led by Jacqui Patterson, is helping our communities to move towards radical imagination, visioning, and planning, a path set forward that brings to life the dreams of our sister, Shirley Chisholm.
Katherine T. Egland
Chair, Board of Directors, The Chisholm Legacy Project
Co-founder, Education, Economics, Environmental, Climate and Health Organization(EEECHO)
Chair, NAACP Board Environmental and Climate Justice Committee