This course examines issues of environmental quality and social justice. It takes the premise that all people have a right to live in a clean environment.
Gaspar Sánchez and Veronica Morris-Moore are young organizers from Honduras and Chicago, respectively. Gaspar is a leader of the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and a Lenca indigenous LGBT activist. He was mentored by the late Berta Cáceres, the COPINH co-founder who was assassinated on March 2, 2016. Veronica has been on the front lines of youth struggles in the era of Black Lives Matter, from winning a trauma center to helping oust the state’s attorney who played a role in covering up the Chicago police murder of Laquan McDonald.
By Thenjiwe McHarris, Movement for Black Lives
Contributing Editor’s Note by Dara Cooper
On April 4, the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the Movement for Black Lives [M4BL] launched Beyond the Moment: United Movements from April 4th to May Day, a campaign “to strengthen the fight for justice, freedom and the right to live fully, with dignity and respect for all people.” M4BL engaged a broad based, multi-cultural, multi-sector coalition known as “The Majority” to kick off a series of actions, teach-ins and events inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech between April 4 and May Day.
In his speech, Dr. King named racism, capitalism and militarism as the greatest harms challenging people to commit to the “fierce urgency of now.” As tens of thousands of protesters converged in Washington D.C. for the People’s Climate March to stand up against reactionary assaults on environmental justice by the current U.S. administration, Dr. King’s warning is more urgent now than ever. Because of the highly racialized effects of climate change, communities of color are the most devastated by our current climate conditions.
In an interview with Peter Mansbridge from CBC News in March 2016, David Suzuki claimed that we have fundamentally failed as environmentalists. This is a worrying statement coming from an acclaimed environmental activist, yet difficult to deny given the consistent need for public protest and outcry over things like the placement of a pipeline or waste facility. The environmental movement inspired by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 has been a long uphill battle. Individuals and communities half a century later are still forced to challenge the dominant discourse of industrial development that denies the right to a healthy environment.