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Sankofa: Looking Back to Move Forward

Celebrating Black Leadership In Nature

Celebrating Black Leadership in Nature

For far too long, many African Americans have not felt safe or welcome in the outdoors, due to discrimination and violence. Yet countless leaders, like Hazel Johnson, Chip Cartwright, Dr. John Francis, MaVynee Betsch, Vernice Miller, Lisa Jackson, have served as activists, educators, ambassadors and more, in environmental advocacy efforts that have helped protect public health and the planet.

We have to put ourselves into uncomfortable places in life in order to grow. As a historically white-led organization, we acknowledge how we have been exclusionary in the past and now proactively and intentionally make space for leadership from the Black community.

Those with experience in historically marginalized communities have the most insight into what solutions will be effective. It is incumbent upon all of us to confront the high levels of pollution in communities of color in our state. Just climate solutions and environmental policies are the only ones that are going to work and last.

Sierra Club supports the Red, Black and Green New Deal (redblackgreennewdeal.org) a project of the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) and partners with Black-led organizations locally on issues related to climate and environmental justice. The Virginia Sierra Club is training our leaders on equitable community engagement that puts listening to those living in underserved communities before our agenda. All of our campaigns are centered around justice and equity, because we recognize that for too long our outreach and priorities have been centered in predominantly white communities.

One of the places in Virginia that has lent itself to refuge is the Great Dismal Swamp.
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