Honoring Dr. King and the Ongoing Quest for Social and Environmental Justice

Photo: the Seattle Times

Photo: the Seattle Times

Today’s national holiday in recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday is an apt time to acknowledge the persistence of social injustice and environmental racism in our society, and to encourage and support the ongoing quest for justice and equity locally, across the nation, and abroad.

This work entails fighting for clean air and water in our communities, creating a vibrant green job economy and ensuring workers’ safety, reducing our reliance upon greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels, investing in clean energy sources to address climate change, addressing persistent poverty and the lack of access to transportation and food in our cities, and eliminating the production and release of toxins within the environment.

As an institution of higher learning in the Chicago region, Roosevelt University embraces the goal of social justice at the core of its mission; and the Sustainability Studies program at Roosevelt bases its curriculum upon the “Three Es” of sustainability — Ecology, Economy, and Equity. Without the ethical foundation and attention to the human prospect represented by that third E of equity, a truly sustainable future is impossible to realize. We salute the work of colleagues and students who have joined citizen activists and community leaders to advance the cause of social and environmental justice for all people, regardless of race, income, belief, or place of residence.

Former RU professor and SUST program co-founder Dr. Carl Zimring, now Associate Professor of Sustainability Studies at the Pratt Institute in New York, published this post entitled “Environmental Racism, Environmental Justice, and the Legacy of the Memphis Strike” on his blog today as a reminder of Dr. King’s quest for workers’ rights and dignity in the context of environmental racism and social injustice. The essay is adapted from Zimring’s forthcoming book Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States from Monticello to Memphis.

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