Honoring Black History Month and the Path Towards Energy Justice: Creating a Climate for Change

This is the fifth and final post in our 2016 Black History Month blog series honoring advocates and highlighting opportunities to advance energy justice. To read other blogs in this series, click here.

The Clean Power Plan, and transitioning to a clean energy economy more broadly, are creating immense opportunities for community engagement in helping shape our states’ energy futures. Environmental justice champion, Reverend Leo Woodberry, whom we profiled in last year in our 2015 Black History Month blog series, is focusing on bringing people together to find common ground in acting on climate change.
Reverend Woodberry considers climate action a matter of justice since the impacts of fossil fuel pollution fall disproportionately upon people of color and low-income communities and impacted communities have often been historically excluded from the policy making that encourages dirty energy pollution. In addition, Reverend Woodberry considers climate action a moral imperative, particularly for people of faith who believe in the responsibility of the stewardship of creation. Meanwhile, taking action on climate change and dirty energy poses huge opportunities for economic development and public health improvement. Many families that are struggling to pay the rent would benefit greatly from new clean energy job opportunities, such as installing solar panels and energy efficiency upgrades, while children and elderly who currently suffer from cardiovascular and respiratory health problems would find their health improved as more polluting fossil fuel plants are retired.

To this end, Rev. Woodberry and his congregation, Kingdom Living Temple, will host two events later this spring and summer where individuals and groups of all sorts can come together to find a just and healthy path forward in a changing climate.

The first event, titled “Stewards of the Earth,” is a public forum focusing on faith and environmental justice to be held at Coker College in Hartsville, SC on March 19. Churches and religious institutions are encouraged to attend and discuss the moral responsibility to promote environmental justice and ensure protection of vulnerable people and communities.

The second event is the “Creating a Climate for Change” conference on June 9 in Florence, SC, which will bring together stakeholders from throughout the Southeast and around the nation to share best practices, processes and models on community engagement with the Clean Power Plan, renewables, energy efficiency, environmental justice, and equity. In the evening, following the conference, people of faith are invited to join Kingdom Living Temple for a worship service, titled “Lord, I’ve Been Changed,” which will focus on the theme the changing climate, changing earth, and the need for individuals to change, too. Rev. Woodberry and Kingdom Living Temple are seeking sponsors to help cover printing and copying costs and lunch for the conference.

Through these events, Reverend Woodberry hopes to help get communities more involved in environmental policy making and the economic and public health opportunities offered by the clean energy economy, so that all segments of society will benefit.

Rev. Woodberry considers himself to be standing upon the shoulders of giants in the tradition of African American environmental justice champions in South Carolina and throughout the South, citing inspiration from people such as Dr. Robert BullardDr. Beverly Wright, Damu Smith, Dana Alston, Connie Tucker, Vernice Miller-Travis, Dr. Yolanda Whyte, and Mildred Myers.

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Thank you, Rev., for your activism. I hope at some point you will also speak against nuclear power, since it also pollutes, , and disproportionately affects people of color and lower socioeconomic status. Native American communities in the western United States have been devastated by the contamination from uranium mining. Communities of color are often chosen as nuclear waste dump sites. Many reactors have been built in economically challenged areas and historical and no benefit to the local communities… If you need proof of that just look at Jenkinsville South Carolina or shell bluff Georgia.. virtually every reactor in this country is leaking cancer-causing radiation. And nuclear is not carbon free – a great deal of greenhouse gases are emitted during the 10-year construction phase and no one has yet calculated the greenhouse gases that will be needed to maintain and monitor hundreds of years of deadly nuclear waste. We can provide all of our energy needs to truly Green Clean renewables and energy efficiency.

Comment by Susan Corbett on February 29, 2016 11:28 am

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