Vernice Miller-Travis hopes President Biden can secure additional federal funding for environmental justice issues, so activists today won’t have to endure the intimidation she felt as a Black woman asking White philanthropists for help. She likened the experience to “taking an elevator to heaven to talk to God.”
President Biden is placing environmental justice at the core of his plan to fight climate change. Today, Black people are nearly four times more likely to die from exposure to pollution than White people. “The conversation we started having was about ‘environmental racism,’” recalled Vernice Miller-Travis. “Because everybody was uncomfortable with racism, we called it ‘environmental justice.’ It’s not accidental. It’s all intentional.”
This article features the stories of prominent BIPOC leaders of the environmental justice movement. They explain how they organized the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991 and how the Environmental Protection Agency was originally created to advocate for racial minorities disproportionately affected by pollution. This 40 year action has benefitted all of us and still has a long way to go.