In honor of Black History Month, 350 Bay Area finds it essential to recognize some black visionaries who have lead and continue to lead the flight in climate activism.

  • Lisa Jackson was appointed by Barack Obama as the first African American EPA Administrator. She put some of the strictest air and water pollution regulations into place. Her opponents said that she was waging a war on coal – she conducted reviews on mountaintop coal sites and limited mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. Read about her current endeavours here:
  • Robert Bullard is known as the father of environmental justice. In 1979, he conducted a thorough study of toxic waste sites in Houston that gave a clear picture of what environmental racism looks like. He still is a huge advocate for the movement and often educates people about the links between the civil rights movement and environmentalism. Check out this recent interview he did with The Guardian:
  • Tanya Fields is a food justice activist from the Bronx. She founded The Black Feminist Project, an organization that focuses on serving low-income women of color by giving them economic opportunities. Currently, she is working on a just transition to an inclusive green economy. Check out some of her lectures here:
  • Rue Mapp is a Bay Area local and founder of Outdoor Afro. She created this community because she saw the need for accessibility for black people in green spaces and outdoor activities. Mapp uses digital media to help connect black people with an interest in outdoor activities to each other and to nature. Check out Outside Afro here:

Environmental justice is an important part of racial and economic justice. Traditional environmentalism has often excluded those most affected by environmental wrongs and further marginalizes the most vulnerable populations. By reframing the conversation about climate action to focus on environmental justice, we can build a bigger and more inclusive movement.