‘Father of Environmental Justice’ Keynote at MLK Celebration

Robert D. Bullard.

Robert D. Bullard.

Robert D. Bullard, a leading authority regarding environmental justice and the author of Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality, will lead the Celebration of the Life of Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. keynote address. The event begins at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 27 in Memorial Chapel.

Bullard is the Ware Distinguished Professor of Sociology and director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University. Prior to joining the faculty at CAU in 1994, he served as a professor of sociology at the University of California, Riverside, as well as visiting professor in Center for Afro-American Studies at the University of California Los Angeles. His scholarship has distinguished him as one of the leading experts on environmental justice and race and the environment. He is one of the planners of the First and Second National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit.

“Robert Bullard, an activist and academic, is considered to be the father of environmental justice,” says Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor and chair of earth and environmental sciences, director of the Service Learning Center and member of the MLK celebration Planning Committee. “We’re very honored to have someone of his stature speak to us in honor of Martin Luther King. I’m sure that if Dr. King had lived, he would have worked alongside Dr. Bullard to tackle this important confluence of environmentalism and social justice.”

Bullard served on President Clinton’s Transition Team in the Natural Resources and Environment Cluster (Department of Energy, Interior, Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency). He served on the U.S. EPA National Environment Justice Advisory Council where he chaired the Health and Research Subcommittee.

Bullard has testified and served as an expert witness in dozens of civil rights cases over the past decade. He is the author of 14 books that address environmental justice, environmental racism, urban land use, facility permitting, community reinvestment, housing, transportation, suburban sprawl and smart growth. His book, Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality (2000), is a standard text in the environmental justice field.

His most recent books include Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World (2003), Highway Robbery: Transportation Racism and New Routes to Equity (2004), The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution (2005), Growing Smarter: Achieving Livable Communities, Environmental Justice, and Regional Equity (2007), and The Black Metropolis in the Twenty-First Century: Race, Power, and the Politics of Place (2007).

“Dr. Bullard is a prolific scholar, writer and editor. His groundbreaking work in the late 1970’s and 80’s clearly showed that garbage dumps in Houston were preferentially located in black neighborhoods,” O’Connell says.

Bullard also is the co-author of Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty, 1987-2007 (2007). In July 2007, he was featured in CNN “People You Should Know.”

The MLK celebration also will include music from the Roadside Girls and Ebony Singers, and will be followed by a reception in Zelnick Pavillion from 6:10 to 6:45 p.m. A Civil Rights photo exhibit will be on display in Zelnick Jan. 20-30.

The MLK Planning Committee members are O’Connell; Joan Cooper-Burnett, University Protestant Chaplain; Elisa Del Valle, assistant director of student activities and leadership development; Rick Culliton, assistant vice-president for student affairs, dean of students; Andrea Depetris ’10; Dianna Dozier, associate director of affirmative action; Persephone Hall, associate director of the Career Resource Center; Frank Kuan, director of community relations; Cathy Lechowicz, director of community service and volunteerism; Janine Lockhart, financial planner and analyst; and Timothy Shiner, director of student activities and leadership development.

Olivia Drake

Olivia (M.A.L.S. '08) is editor of the Wesleyan Connection newsletter and campus photographer. I have two dogs, five chickens and 30 house plants. I like snow, photographing firemen and enjoying "stinky" cheeses. Send me your story ideas to newsletter@wesleyan.edu. 

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