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On May 6th, elected officials, grassroots leaders, and concerned neighbors gathered in Roxbury to rally for clean air for all in honor of World Asthma Day. The Boston neighborhood of Roxbury has a rich history of neighbors organizing to advocate for the changes they want to see and is also an Environmental Justice community, disproportionately impacted by poor air quality. At the rally, Clean Water Action and a collection of allied organizations and partners stood together with residents to demand change!  

Air pollution was responsible for over 15,000 cases of childhood asthma, and over 2,700 deaths in MA in 2019, and its distribution is unequal. Residents in lower income communities, communities of color, and language-isolated neighborhoods are more likely to experience poor air quality. According to the American Lung Association, Black Americans are 1.5 times more likely than other races and ethnicities to be diagnosed with asthma in their lifetime, likely because of the unequal siting of polluting facilities and transportation hubs.  

Clean Water Action and our Environmental Justice partners are fighting for change. This World Asthma Day, speakers and neighbors rallied for S.2682, a bill that sets Massachusetts on a path to improving air quality for all!  As the end of the legislative session draws near, we continue to advocate for the strongest version of this bill to be passed, and for the other components to be included in future legislation.  

Take action! Tell your elected officials to support clean air legislation!

Despite the massive stakes of the issue, the rally was joyful and inspiring. Check out these highlights from some of the speakers!

Image of Senator Liz Miranda (MA) at a World Asthma Day rally

Sen. Liz Miranda, a State Senator and a Roxbury native, helped ground the rally and draw attention to the injustice occurring there.

“Whether you can breathe clean air shouldn't depend on your zip code. The fact that Roxbury right here is a 5 times higher rate for asthma than anywhere else in the City of Boston and Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a travesty.”  

 

Image of Celeste Williams at a World Asthma Day rally (MA)

Chelsea Community Member, Celeste Williams  

“My granddaughter came out with a cough. So, the baby was born with asthma living in this environment. And the environment is a Black and Brown community. So, we’ve been vigorously calling the state legislators to implement indoor filters so they can monitor the air quality in our homes and make an accurate analysis of what we're dealing with every single day.”  

 

Image of Emannuel De Barros, Director of Development and Community Engagement at ACE at a World Asthma Day Rally (MA)

 Emmanuel De Barros, Director of Development and Community Engagement at ACE

“As you know these [Inhalers and nebulizers to treat asthma] are not accessible and affordable for many households. If we can get this air quality bill passed, many households will not have to face those issues and actually have a clean indoor space for their kids, their families and anyone that's in their household.”

 

Image of Christina Mui

Christina Mui, Clean Water Action’s Youth Action Collaborative member and Malden Highschool Student  

“We can change the narrative. In a turn of events the future lies in our hands. Let your voice sing, your hands empower, your mindset awaken. Petitions are running, protests are fuming. Action is bound to change the world. The only question now is are you willing to rewrite the narrative.”  

 

Image of Clean Water Action's Rev. Vernon K. Walker

Clean Water Action, Climate Justice Program Director, Rev. Vernon Walker  

“We are here today as concerned citizens that will not sit idly by while communities of color bear the disproportionate harms of environmental injustices. We at Clean Water Action stand in partnership with environmental justice organizations on the fight for racial and environmental justice.”

 

Want to hear more? Check out the full livestream of the event here.