Energy & Environment

Houston Event In Honor Of MLK Explores The Intersection Of Civil Rights And Environmental Justice

Two Houston institutions present a program that connects Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy with the evolution of the environmental movement.

Ralph Abernathy, James Foreman, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Douglas and John Lewis. King leads the five-day, 54-mile march for voting rights in 1965, from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery.

Rothko Chapel and Texas Southern University will co-present Actions of Change: From the Civil Rights Movement to the Struggle for Environmental Justice on January 15, in celebration of what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 91st birthday.

"The civil rights struggle was about equity, about dignity ... and really lifting up those who had been marginalized," said David Leslie, Executive Director of Rothko Chapel. "And I think today the environmental movement is ... an outgrowth or continuation of that, of a basic civil rights commitment to the equity and dignity, and really now the life of people – particularly those who continue to struggle at the margins."

The program will discuss environmental inequities and actions being taken to improve the health of the region.

"You think about communities that are adversely or exponentially impacted by environmental issues, and it's interesting and it's really sad that some of the same things continue that low-income communities, communities of color, communities that are oftentimes seen only for their economic worth are those that are the most at-risk," said Leslie.

TSU distinguished professor of urban planning and environmental policy, Dr. Robert Bullard, known by many as the "father of environmental justice," will give a keynote address, followed by a discussion with other prominent scholars in the field.

Dr. Robert Bullard, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University

"The really important part of this program is also connecting to people who are working in our community at the grassroots level, trying to do what they can to organize and improve the quality of life for all people living in the greater Houston area," said Leslie.

Actions of Change is free on January 15 at TSU. Registration is required through the Rothko Chapel website.

Listen to the complete interview with David Leslie below:

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Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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