Published 28 September 2017
It’s just over a month until our ‘Environmental Justice 2017 – Looking Back, Looking Forward’ conference, and in anticipation of this exciting event, we want to highlight the contributions made by Professor Robert Bullard in the field.
Bullard is widely regarded as the ‘father of the environmental justice movement,’ and has been the leading voice in academia and activism about the intersections of environmental degradation, race, class, health and much more.
In an article for Grist Magazine, Bullard explains that he became interested in environmental justice during graduate school when he discovered that due to institutionalised racism, “100 percent of all the city-owned landfills in Houston were in black neighborhoods, though blacks made up only 25 percent of the population. Three out of four of the privately owned landfills were located in predominantly black neighborhoods, and six out of eight of the city-owned incinerators. In a city that does not have zoning, it meant that these were decisions made by individuals in government.”
Bullard’s environmental justice publications explore the topics of “sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, industrial facility siting, community reinvestment, housing, transportation, climate justice, emergency response, smart growth, and regional equity.” For a comprehensive list of Bullard’s publications, click here.
The impact of Bullard’s research and advocacy is evident in that it contributed to redefying our understanding of environmentalism. In an interview for Earth First! Journal, Bullard explains that:
“The environmental justice movement is about is trying to address all of the inequities that result from human settlement, industrial facility siting and industrial development. What we’ve tried to do over the last twenty years is educate and assist groups in organizing and mobilizing, empowering themselves to take charge of their lives, their community and their surroundings. It’s more of a concept of trying to address power imbalances, lack of political enfranchisement, and to redirect resources so that we can create some healthy, liveable and sustainable types of models.”
At the Environmental Justice 2017 conference, Bullard will take part in a ‘Keynote Conversations’ session, and speak at ‘The Future of Environmental Justice’ – a public lecture presented by the Sydney Environment Institute for the and the Sydney Ideas.
For ‘The Future of Environmental Justice,’ Bullard will be joined by fellow ‘EJ 2017’ keynote speakers Maxine Burkett, Lauren Rickards, and Kyle Powys Whyte, in discussion of the potential and future of environmental justice scholarship as an organising principle for climate change activism and political action. For more details and to register, click here.
Robert D. Bullard is Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy in the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas.