The University of Richmond Department of Geography and the Environment and Bonner Center for Civic Engagement will host a symposium focusing on environmental racism Feb. 4, noon to 3 p.m., in the Robins School of Business, Ukrop Auditorium.

Environmental racism is a term applied to environment-related social injustices faced by racial and ethnic minority communities. For example, minority residents end up living in more polluted areas than their majority peers.

The Justice First! Symposium will include two panel discussions focusing on this issue.

The first panel “Virginia’s ‘Just’ Energy Transition – Past, Present, Future,” will include community partners from throughout the state engaging in long-term environmental research and experiential learning with Richmond students, staff, and faculty.

The second panel, “Equity and Justice in the US Energy Transition,” will feature Reverend Leo Woodberry, Mustafa Santiago Ali, and Ya-Sin Shabazz. Woodberry is a national activist for environmental justice and solar workforce development in marginalized communities, and Ali is a leader of the Hip Hop Caucus, a non-profit that connects hip hop with climate action. Ya-Sin Shabazz, from the non-profit Hijra House/Steps Coalition, trains entrepreneurs to create job-promoting energy efficiency programs.

“These panels seek to create an important dialogue on incorporating history, equity, ecology, health, and well-being into community-managed energy projects as we move away from the fossil fuel-based infrastructure of the 20th century,” said Mary Finley-Brook, a professor of geography and the environment and event organizer. “Our panelists are leading conversations across the nation and in the Commonwealth on how improve access to renewable energy projects in communities of color in order to address climate change while advancing social and economic justice.”

This event is free and open to the public.


Panel Discussion Details

Both panels will be held Feb. 4 Robins School of Business, Ukrop Auditorium

Virginia’s ‘Just’ Energy Transition—Past, Present, Future
12:00-1:15 p.m.
This panel will be moderated by Kendyl Crawford of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light and University of Richmond student Kidest Gebret.

Panelists include:
Milton Bullock, elder, singer, native of Newport News, Moton House legend
Angela Harris, Southeast CARE Coalition, HHRA, LLC
Richard Walker, Bridging the Gap in Virginia
John and Ruby Laury, Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church, Union Hill
Dr. Lakshmi Fjord, University of Virginia

Equity and Justice in US Energy Transition
This panel will be moderated by University of Richmond Professor Dr. Mary Finley-Brook, member of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative, and Rev. Dr. Faith Harris of Virginia Union University.

Panelists include:
Rev. Leo Woodberry, New Alpha Community Development Corporation
Ya-Sin Shabazz, Hijra House/Steps Coalition
Mustafa Santiago Ali, Hip Hop Caucus

Associate Professor of Geography and the Environment, Geography Advisor
Global Studies Concentration Advisor, Development and Change, Politics and Governance
Natural resource management
Latin America and the Caribbean
Indigenous peoples
Land tenure
Regional integration
Climate change mitigation and carbon markets