Black History Month: Ecojustice Resources

Tara C. Trapani

February is Black History Month in the United States. So, we at the Forum wanted to highlight some of the resources from our new religiously-engaged Ecojustice hub that focus on the history and pivotal role of African Americans in the birth and growth of the Ecojustice movement, as well as material addressing the disproportionate impact of environmental concerns on black communities. 

This list is just a sampling. We've included a few secular resources for historical context, but please note that the majority of what the Forum shares concerns the religious engagement with environmental justice issues. There are many more wonderful secular resources online and in print. And you'll find many more religiously-engaged links and resources in our Ecojustice hub, and a wealth of titles in our Ecojustice bibliography



A Movement is Born: Environmental Justice and the UCC, United Church of Christ; information on the early UCC figures in the movement: Rev. Ben Chavis, Dollie Burwell, and Rev. Leon Wright 

This is environmental racism’: How a protest in a North Carolina farming town sparked a national movement,” Washington Post, 2021; contains profiles and history of early frontrunners of the movement in the 1970s & 1980s

EPA on Environmental Justice, includes a helpful timeline of the movement’s history that begins with the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike 

What is environmental justice?“ EarthBeat, 2020; a good overall history of the movement with substantive content on the early figures and events, plus some information on current religious activity

The Environmental Justice Movement Explainer, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 2016; a brief look at environmental racism and the black origins of the Ecojustice movement 

Environmental and eco-justice.” Article by Laurel Kearns from Religions and Environments: a reader in religion, nature, and ecology, Richard Bohannon ed. History of the movement with a Christian focus. See, in particular, 302-305 & 308.

The Principles of Environmental Justice, as set forth at the 1991 First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit

Environmental Justice in the 21st Century, Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University, Robert D. Bullard, 2008; a 22-page document with photos on the history of the movement and the challenges ahead


Recent Action, Activism, and Scholarship

Carl Anthony & Paloma Pavel
See more about their organization: Breakthrough Communites
Read Carl's book: The Earth, the City, and the Hidden Narrative of Race
Watch interviews with them in our Forum Spotlights series: Episode 1.27 (Carl)Episode 1.28 (Paloma)

Christopher Carter 
See more about his anti-racism training program: Racial Resilience
Read his book: The Spirit of Soul Food: Race, Faith, and Food Justice 
Read his article: “Blood in the Soil: the Racial, Racist, and Religious Dimensions of Environmentalism
Watch an interview with him in our Forum Spotlights series: Episode 1.4

Forum Spotlights: Episode 1.44, Environmental Justice (clip show) with Carl Anthony, Paloma Pavel, Christopher Carter

Ecology and Justice: An Orbis Books Series on Integral Ecology; See, in particular, Ecowomanism: African American Women and Earth-Honoring Faiths by Melanie Harris 


Prince, Shannon Joyce. Tactics for Racial Justice Building an Antiracist Organization and Community. New York & London: Routledge, 2022. New release discount with code FLY21 when purchasing from the Routledge site. 


Glave, Dianne D. Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage. Chicago, IL: Lawrence Hill Books, 2010. See, in particular, chapters 3 and 10 for religious content. 
Glave, Dianne D. and Mark Stoll. To Love the Wind and the Rain: African Americans and Environmental History. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005. See, in particular, chapters 9, 10, and 13 for religiously-engaged content. 


African Methodist Episcopal Church 2016 Resolution on Climate Change

Resource guides

Energy Justice Network, Environmental Justice/Racism resource list

Environmental Racism and the Environmental Justice Movement, Resource Guide from Edmonds College Library

The Links Between Racism and Climate Change, Yale Climate Connections, collection of helpful links to print & multimedia resources


Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis 
UCC Environmental Justice Press Conference on the Report:
“Breath to the People: Sacred Air and Toxic Pollution”
February 26, 2020