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Environmental Justice is Racial Justice - and to learn where we need to go, we have to learn where we’ve been. Take #WaterActionWednesday time today to learn more about the history of the Environmental Justice movement and the systematic discrimination we need to continue to fight.

Black and white photo posing next to sign: "West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. WE ACT for Environmental Justice". Caption: Water Action Wednesday

In recognition of Black History Month, Clean Water Action features the stories of Black leaders in the Environmental Justice movement on the latest episode of our We All Live Downstream podcast.

Season 3 - Episode 1: Celebrating Black History Month
with Rev. Vernon K. Walker, MA Climate Justice Program Director at Clean Water Action and graduate student at Tufts University pursuing a Masters in Public Policy with a focus on environmental justice. Listen Here

Episode 26: Black Leaders in the Clean Water Movement
with Kjia Rivers, Policy Advocate at Community Water Center and Ngodoo Atume, California Water Policy Analyst at Clean Water Action. Listen Here

Episode 20: Black History Month - The Environmental Justice Movement
with Vernice Miller Travis, co-founder of WE ACT for NJ and Clean Water Board Member. Listen Here


Clean Water Action is excited to recognize and uplift Black Water Champions internally and externally during Black History month. During this time of reflection on important advancements and milestones in history, we honor those who sacrificed and impacted the Black movement for justice and equality, as well as Black leaders of today.

2024 Black History Month Clean Water Champions
Omesa Mokaya
Mari Copeny
Shay Brooks

2023 Black History Month Clean Water Champions
Erga Pierrette
Lord Takim Allah
Sasha Lewis-Norelle
Ashley Richardson
Kevin Jeffery
Brenda Lee Richardson
Ngodoo Atume


Interactive Feature
“This Is Environmental Racism” - Tracing Black Environmental Justice activism history from the 80s until today through the stories from early frontline leaders, including Vernice Miller-Travis. Read More

Oral History
The event that changed the environmental justice movement forever: Thirty years later, organizers reflect on the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit. Read More

Academic Collaboration
The Michigan Conference on Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards in 1990 helped establish Environmental Justice as worthy of academic study. The University of Michigan would become the 1st US university with an Environmental Justice program. Read More

To get where we need to go, we need to learn where we've been. Explore this EPA timeline of key Environmental Justice milestones & learn how trailblazing activists built networks to organize for systematic change. Learn More

In 1987, the United Church of Christ published the seminal report "Toxic Wastes & Race in the Race in United States", stating that race was the best predictor of the location of hazardous waste facilities. 20 years later, UCC revisited the impact of the groundbreaking study. Read More

How Detroit’s Black leaders shaped Detroit’s environmental justice, labor movements. Read More

March and protest against in Warren, picture of two young Black girls with hadnmade signs "We Care About Our Future"

Thanks to many Black activists & allies organizing in their communities & beyond, Environmental Racism could not be ignored. We still have a long way to go. Continue on your own exploration of the history of the Environmental Justice movement, gain a better understanding of how we got where we are today, support organizers working today to overcome systemic racism, and commit to taking Environmental Justice action year-round.

More on Black History Month from Clean Water Action


Clean Water Action supports the Environmental Justice for All Act | Letter to Natural Resources Committee Leadership

The Environmental Justice for All Act (H.R. 2021), introduced by Rep Raul Grijalva and Rep Donald McEachin, is a long overdue package of reforms that will help address the history of environmental injustice that has led to undue burdens of pollution on people of color and low-income communities.

Keeping an Eye on Justice40

Justice40 is not perfect. Its primary challenges remain consistent with that of environmental justice issues more broadly: they are multifaceted, interconnected, and complicated. However, it is an opportunity to take these challenges on, knowing that the financial and federal support is there to begin remediating America's history of exploitation of places and people.

Clean Water 50 Stories: Vernice Miller-Travis

In honor of Clean Water Action's 50th birthday, we’re sharing our history and stories of the people who have helped us protect clean water along the way through #CleanWater50Stories. We’re thrilled to highlight the story of Vernice Miller-Travis, an environmental justice champion and vice chair of Clean Water Action's board.