A new generation of kids is becoming more dependent on "fast-food" and "smart phones," rather than understanding the importance of "perseverance" and "patience." I'm not alone in feeling that my generation have not taken the time to really to dive deeper into learning our Black History, enough to supplement the enormous gap that leaves the history of people of color out of our schools' lesson plans.
I have tried to impress upon my daughters that knowing your history is important -- even if it's just to recognize that you cannot take for granted the opportunity to attend school, the house and neighborhood you live in, and last but certainly not least, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the safe, green space we enjoy.
In 2014, we celebrate several milestones in civil rights. Sixty years ago, we desegregated our public institutions with Brown vs. the Board of Education, and 46 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led the strike of the sanitation workers in Memphis, TN, which was the civil and human rights movement that would soon become known to many as environmental racism.
Environmental justice is a movement that has fought to bring a solution to end environmental racism -- making sure that no person, despite, race, ethnicity, social status, political power, or the amount of income, will be disproportionately, or negatively impacted by environmental laws and policies that are not protective of public health.
Communities across the county began to speak out about all forms of racism. They were tired of living near hazardous-waste landfills, tired of waking up to the spells of the chemical manufacturing facilities that violate the comfort of their homes. They were tired of their family members getting sick and dying because of some chemical that infiltrated their water system. These were the types of harsh realities that engendered a generation of community activities and leaders that -- through pressure and persistence -- led to signing of the first executive order to mandate that all federal government agencies make their policies and programs in accordance with the principles of environmental justice.