4 Black Environmentalists
Written By: Jacqueline Omdara, Research By: Sophie Campbell, Sheridan Hill, & Nadia Vanzanten
In honour of Black History Month, we want to highlight various generations of black environmentalists that have made a big impact on their local community and around the world. Each individual has accomplished a great amount and continue to be a great influence in the climate crisis community that many admire.
Cambridge, England / Age: 24
Many focuses including using artificial intelligence for environmental risk programme. Investigating the role of technology in forest conservation. On top of that she is the founder of ClimateInColour which is an online education platform created to help make climate information and conversations more accessible and inclusive. Her work centres around indigenous knowledge.
Joycelyn wanted to create resources regarding her academics that could be accessed by people outside of the academic world. She believes that access to education can solve many global issues and could aid in dealing with the climate crisis.
Founder of ClimateInColour. Since 2020 more than 24,000 individuals have joined and collaborated. Many organizations have also collaborated including Samsung, Oxford University and Greenpeace.
Dr. Robert Bullard
Texas, United States of America / Age: 75
Often deemed the “father of environmental justice” his goal is to fight against environmental racism and educate future generations, stating that all people should have the right to environmental protection. His belief is that if you have facts and evidence, you have a stronger ability to protest. His goals within the environmental justice movement are to reduce environmental, economic, health, and racial disparities.
His wife, Linda McKeever Bullard, wanted to sue the state of Texas for trying to place a landfill in the middle of a Black community. This inspired him to research the link between environmental oppression and systemic racism.
A professor at Texas Southern University, and Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of the National Black Environmental Justice Network. He has an extensive list of over 20+ awards for the actions he has taken, has published 18 books, and many articles.
Flint, Michigan, USA / Age : 14
She focuses on helping to fix toxic water crises, starting with Flint and then moving across the country. She works to empower children to create the change needed to combat environmental issues.
Frustrated by the water crises in Flint, she wrote a letter to President Obama in 2016 who then visited and approved $100M for relief. She is driven to speak about environmental racism and the unequal distribution of impacts on people of colour by improper and toxic infrastructure.
She convinced Obama to visit Flint, giving the issue some necessary publicity. She is a member of the Flint Youth Justice League, has raised over $600K for school supplies and other items for Flint children, and has raised $250K for bottled water in her community. She partnered with Hydroviv to create and distribute a water filter for those living without access to clean drinking water across the USA.
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
Location: New York, United States of America / Age: 41
Ocean conservation, sustainable fishing. She works at the intersection of climate science, marine biology, and policy. She co-founded Urban Ocean Lab — a think tank for coastal cities — and founded Ocean Collectiv — a consulting firm for social justice-based conservation solutions. She co-founded the All We Can Save Project to support women climate leaders.
Drawn to the ocean by a ride on a boat with a glass bottom but inspired to pursue marine biology by a childhood spent in nature along with stories from her father about Jamaica and the state of coastal ecosystems there.
Founder & President of Ocean Collectiv, co-founder of Urban Ocean Lab, co-founder of All We Can Save Project, co-creator/co-host of How to Save a Planet podcast, co-editor of the book All We Can Save, on the 2021 Time 100 Next List.