5 Black Environmentalists You Should Know
You need to know the names of these black environmentalists.
This year for Black History Month, we are raising the profile of 5 key black environmentalists we believe all should know. These individuals have achieved great things, coined new ideas, and championed environmental and social justice to provide equal access to the environment and its benefits.
Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan environmental activist and founder of the Green Belt Movement in Africa. The Green Belt Movement has planted over 50 million trees in Kenya, working at all levels from grassroots to international in promoting conservation, empowering communities and championing sustainable livelihoods. The movement has spread across Africa, planting millions of trees. In 2004, she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace, the first African woman to receive the prize.
Robert Bullard is often known as the father of environmental justice. He played a leading role in the Environmental Justice Movement in the 1970-80s. This movement first uncovered the eco racism in the USA where toxic waste sites were often placed in African American communities, placing the burden of pollution onto ethnic minorities.
Leah Thomas is the founder of intersectional environmentalism. This movement brings together the protection of the planet and people by recognising that injustices are between marginalised communities and the earth and interconnected. Thomas has raised the idea that we cannot have environmental justice without social justice.
Rene Ngongo, from the Democratic Republic of Congo has dedicated his life to saving the Congo rainforest. Even throughout the civil war, Ngongo campaigned, advocated and risked his personal safety to protect the rainforest from destruction. He has worked to conserve and encourage sustainable use of the Congo forest, second only to the Amazon in global importance.
Vanessa Nakate in a climate activist from Uganda. She started campaigning for the climate in 2018, as she recognised the increasingly high temperatures in Uganda. She has spoken at the COP25 and the Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture and has called on governments to stop subsiding fossil fuels. Nakate has started a renewable energy initiative to provide Ugandan schools with solar energy.
These are just a selection of inspiring black environmentalist making changes to our society for the betterment of the environment and all people. The green movement is across borders, genders and races. We hope this list has inspired you to make changes in your community.
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Are there any key individuals we've missed? Let us know in the comments.