On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers reached Galveston, TX to announce that Black people were officially free from enslavement and the Civil War was over. The announcement came almost two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation and this is the day that we now recognize as Juneteenth, the end of slavery in the United States.
Slavery would not be legally abolished until December 1865 and there is still much work left to be done 156 years later to fully realize the rights of Black Americans in the United States and establish equity for Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
Racial justice and environmental justice are inextricably connected. We recognize the systemic racism within the environmental injustices suffered by communities of color facing marginalization that forces them into neighborhoods exposed to toxic facilities, coal plants, higher levels of pollution, and CO2. We witness the brunt that BIPOC communities bear when suffering the harshest consequences in natural disasters with economic inequities making it even harder to recover. This is why we must include the communities that suffer the effects of pollution and climate change the most in the conversations and plans of action to address climate change and increase access to clean energy. Black Americans and people of color must have their rights to clean air and a healthy environment realized to truly be free from systems of oppression. Some local organizations that you can support who are putting forth efforts toward environmental justice include:
Sierra Club - Rio Grande Chapter
Southwest Organizing Project - Albuquerque
Dreaming New Mexico - Environmental Justice
Environment New Mexico
350 New Mexico
Conservation Voters New Mexico
At Positive Energy Solar, we see how far we as a nation have come in the liberation of Black Americans but we also see how much work is still left to be done. Juneteenth is a celebration as well as a reminder to continue to fight for environmental equity and racial justice as it is within our power to be catalysts to change in the world around us.