“The modern Environmental Justice Movement would not be what it is today if it were not for the African Americans who helped shape it. African Americans have been fighting for decades, from sparking the modern Environmental Justice Movement, to conducting key research on environmental pollution, to founding countless grassroots organizations, their legacy is undeniable” Eddie Junsay -350.org — The Environmental Justice Movement is Rooted in Black History.

Never Surrender — The fight for environmental justice in Bayview — Hunters Point, San Francisco is a documentary film that is the result of over two years of research and field work conducted by M. Reza Shirazi, urbanist and researcher in sustainable urban development at the Oxford Brookes University. Shirazi was awarded the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Global Fellowship at UC Berkeley Institute of Urban and Regional Development. He is principal investigator for the EU-funded research project “(Un)Just Neighborhoods: Socio-Spatial Justice in Urban Neighbourhoods.”

The first major study of segregation and pollution in America was conducted in 1987 by the Commission for Racial Justice. Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States showed race is the major variable in where toxic waste facilities are sited. People of color comprise 57% of residents living within a two mile radius of hazardous waste sites and 60% of residents living near polluting industries.

Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States — a 1987 National Report archived by the NRC, characterizes communities with hazardous waste sites using Census Bureau and EPA data. Dark areas on the map document counties where the Black and Latino populations are greater than the national average and where five or more toxic waste sites are sited. Southeast San Francisco is shaded black!

The national mapping conducted by the Commission for Racial Justice on file with the National Research Council clearly identifies southeast San Francisco to be one of the worst regions in the nation!

Greater than 20 tons of particulate matter emissions per year and hundreds of hazardous waste sites are concentrated in the 94124 zipcode located in Southeast San Francisco.

“It was so easy for her to fight for people who didn’t have a voice. She might have been the littlest person in the room but she was the loudest.” Arieann Marie Harrison — Founder Marie Harrison Foundation

Marie Harrison — Mother of the Environmental Justice Movement in Bayview Hunters Point fought to the very last breath to protect her family and community. Harrison died in May of 2019 of a chronic lung disease caused by exposure to air pollution. Her daughter, Arieann Marie Harrison, described her mother as “small but mighty” and continues her legacy as founder of the Marie Harrison Foundation.

The Father of Environmental Justice

Dr. Robert D. Bullard has been named “The Father of Environmental Justice’. Dean of the School of Public Health at Texas Southern University, Bullard fueled the charge for Environmental Justice in 1978 in the successful injunction of Bean v. Southwestern Waste Management. His research and advocacy led to the Environmental Justice Executive Order signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994 that codified the values of Environmental Justice into law and creation of the Principles of Environmental Justice adopted by the People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit held on October 24–27, 1991 in Washington, DC.
“The maps we generated proved, without a doubt, that race was the major player in where the city sited environmental hazards.”
Iconic Hero Robert D Bullard, “father of environmental justice” in the US. Illustration: Richard A Chance

On January 27, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order to establish a White House Interagency Council on Environmental Justice, forming an office of Health and Climate Equity at DHHS and an Office of Environmental Justice within the Department of Justice. Biden grew up in a fenceline community adjacent to a Delaware oil refinery and in the historic October 22, 2020 Presidential Debate recalled, “That’s why so many people were dying and getting cancer. The fact is in those front line communities, it’s not a matter of what you’re paying them. It matters how you keep them safe. What do you do? You impose restrictions on the pollutants coming out of those fence line communities.”

The Face of Environmental Justice at the EPA

“They share my belief we have no time to waste to confront the climate crisis, protect our air and drinking water and deliver justice to communities that have long shouldered the burdens of environmental harms.” President Joe Biden

The Washington Post announced the historic picks Biden made to “put environmental justice front and center” that include Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) — the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary and head of the Interior Department, North Carolina environmental regulator Michael S. Regan to become the first Black man to head the Environmental Protection Agency and Brenda Mallory to serve as the first Black chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

The Duke Energy Corporation Coal Fire Power Plants located at the fence line of Goldsboro, North Carolina were shuttered in 2012. EPA Chief nominee Michael Regan is credited with working across the aisle to secure a multibillion dollar settlement to clean up coal waste — adjacent to where he grew up.
The Black History Month 2021 Senate advancement of Biden appointee Michael S. Regan as EPA Administrator sends a clear signal of commitment to environmental justice. Regan grew up in a fence line community next to coal fired power plants he would ultimately shutter. He began his career as an air quality specialist in the Clinton EPA and brings 20 years of experience, advocacy and commitment to the tenets of environmental justice. Seen here with his son Matthew
Black History Month at the United States Environmental Protection Agency

Medical Director - Golden State MD Health & Wellness. UCSF/Stanford Author & Researcher. PI HP Biomonitoring. Certified Clinical Nutritionist. PoliticoMD!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store