Climate Action

4 Black Environmentalists Fighting for Equity

EARTHDAY.ORG’s aim is to shed light on the contributions and perspectives of Black environmentalists, highlighting their all too often-overlooked role in the fight for environmental justice and the need for greater representation and inclusion in mainstream environmental movements.

Black environmentalists have been at the forefront of the fight for a sustainable and just future for decades. Inclusion, diversity, and equity are vital to the environmental movement, and it is necessary to continue to uplift voices of color. From grassroots organizers fighting for better environmental policies to scholars studying the intersectionality of race and environment, Black environmentalists are making significant strides in building a more equitable and sustainable world. 

Below are some of the key Black figures in the environmental movement and the important work they are doing to build a better future for current and future generations. 

  • Robert D. Bullard

Often referred to as the father of the environmental justice movement, Bullard began his work fighting environmental inequalities in the 1970s. Bullard coined the term environmental racism, which refers to the disproportionate amount of environmental hazards that people of color face. Author, professor, and now member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, Bullard has dedicated his life towards securing a more equitable world.

  • Mari Copney

The youngest on the list at 15 years old, Copney is widely known for her work with the Flint water crisis. Commonly known as “Little Miss Flint,” Copney gained notoriety after writing a letter to President Barack Obama leading him to approve $100 million to help with the city’s water crisis. 

Copney continues to be an advocate for marginalized communities. From donating backpacks and school supplies to kids to working with Hyrdoviv to create and distribute filters for those without drinkable water, Copney is an inspiration to anyone who wants to better their community.

  • Wawa Gatheru 

Activist, Rhodes scholar, public speaker, writer, and nonprofit founder, Gatheru is busy making the world a better place. Black Girl Environmentalist (BGE), Gatheru’s nonprofit, focuses on empowering Black girls, women, and non-binary people within the environmental movement. BGE recognizes different groups have unique experiences within the climate movement, and works to create spaces where those who often feel excluded can have a voice and build community with each other.

  • Leah Thomas 

Author of ​​The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet, Thomas is dedicated to educating people on the importance of intersectionality within the climate movement. Thomas aims to teach people you cannot separate the earth from its inhabitants. In fact, she believes to save one you must save them all. 

A better world is an equitable world. EARTHDAY.ORG’s Vote Earth campaign seeks to make an impact by encouraging people to vote for leaders that want to build a more sustainable and equitable future.