Oct 13, 2023

Community Forum Kicks Off Four-Day Event Bringing HBCU Students, Professors, Advocates, Policy Leaders to New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, LA – This week, the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) and Robert D. Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice kicked off its ninth annual HBCU Climate Change in New Orleans, LA by hosting the “It’s About Justice” community forum. The solution-oriented dialogue centered around the urgency of addressing environmental injustices. A keynote speech by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on criminal, racial, and environmental justice followed the Forum. The event wrapped up with a reception and book signing session, during which Keith Ellison autographed his book “Break the Wheel: Ending the Cycle of Police Violence,” Heather McTeer Toney, Executive Director of the Beyond Petrochemicals Campaign, signed copies of her book “Before the Street Lights Come On: Black America’s Urgent Call for Climate Solutions,” and Dr. Robert Bullard and Dr. Beverly Wright added their signatures to their collaborative work, “The Wrong Complexion for Protection: How the Government Response to Disaster Endangers African American Communities.”

This year’s conference theme is Looking Back to Move Forward: Building a Climate Resilient Future for Vulnerable Communities. Attendees will address issues related to climate justice and resilience, like transportation, energy sources, carbon emissions, green jobs, the creation of a green economy, and community economic development.

“The HBCU Climate Change Conference has been a major focus of our work for the last decade as we seek to train and influence the next generation of environmental justice leaders. We belive that HBCUs are the frontline for innovative thinking to solve the greatest crisis of our time,” said Dr. Beverly Wright, founder and executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. “This is an opportunity to bring together Black faculty, students, policy experts and researchers together to bridge the gap between actionable solutions and theory to provide solutions that will have a tangible impact on our communities.”

“It was a magic moment to share the book signing stage with some fantastic authors who not only research, meticulously document and write books about the struggle of Black people, but more important were the change agents themselves in frontline communities quest for environmental, climate, economic, racial justice in policing,” said Dr. Robert D. Bullard, Director of the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University and Co-Chair of the HBCU Climate Change Consortium. “And like our HBCU Conference, its all about justice.”

“Climate justice must be seen as part of, and not distinct from, racial justice,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. “The impacts of climate change won’t be felt evenly – Black, brown, and Indigenous communities will be hurt first and worst. We have to be our own salvation, and use the tools at our disposal to move us forward.”

Other notable speakers scheduled throughout the conference include Chair Brenda Mallory of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Tennessee State Representative Justin Pearson, Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the HipHop Caucus, Dr. Mithika Mwenda of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, and Dr. Calvin Mackie of STEM NOLA among other scholars, students, advocates, and experts.

About the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice
Families in the Gulf Coast deserve to live in communities that are free from deadly air and are more resilient to climate change and extreme weather. The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) works to empower and engage communities to put environmental justice and equity at the center of all climate action. Led by environmental justice scholar and advocate, author, civic leader, and professor of Sociology Dr. Beverly L. Wright, the DSCEJ uses research, education, and community and student engagement to advocate for policy change, lead health and safety training for environmental careers, develop social and emotional community wellness programs, and create new and environmentally healthy opportunities for the residents of communities disproportionately impacted by historic environmental injustice.

About Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice
The Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University addresses longstanding issues of systemic inequality and structural racism that cause disproportionate pain, suffering and death in Black and other people of color communities.  The Center is directed by environmental justice scholar Dr. Robert D. Bullard and is housed in the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs. It strives to be a leading force for transformative environmental, climate and racial justice using rigorous science, community-driven research, policy, civic engagement programming, and effective advocacy.