Martin Luther King, Washington DC Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, 1957
What is environmental justice and how does it connect to Martin Luther King and Martin Luther King Day? The environmental justice movement addresses a statistical fact: people who live, work and play in America’s most polluted environments are most commonly people of color and the poor. In his 1967 Christmas sermon, Dr. King preached that:
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. … Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? … This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality.”
Dr. King knew that we could not achieve social justice without environmental justice, including healthier living environments for underprivileged communities and universal access to clean air, water, and soil (https://www.thesca.org/connect/blog/dr-king-civil-rights-and-environmental-justice). He envisioned a community where everyone had clean air, clean water, and clean soil.
Dr. King’s environmental activism remains absolutely relevant to our rapidly changing world. In Dr. King’s own words:
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Thank you, Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King, for your tireless work on behalf of the beloved community. We’ll do our best to follow in the footsteps of your dream.
To Learn More…
Read about global environmental justice heroes, heroines, and issues: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/21/what-is-environmental-injustice-and-why-is-the-guardian-covering-it
Follow the EPA’s environmental justice timeline:
Reflect on Camille Vincent’s post ‘Reflections from the MLK National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia: https://www.thesca.org/connect/blog/dr-king-civil-rights-and-environmental-justice
Acknowledging environmental justice requires us to acknowledge another reality: environmental racism. Dr. King was an activist and we need activism today: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/23/environmental-racism-harms-americans-in-flint-and-beyond. And another one: https://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/report-outlines-environmental-racism-st-louis#stream/0.