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NAACP Environmental Climate and Justice Team Discuss Energy Justice in Tunica, Mississippi

September 1, 2017

The NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice (ECJ) Program, in conjunction with the ECJ Board Sub-Committee Chair, Kathy Egland, hosted a two day retreat for the NAACP Board Members on Energy Justice.  The event took place August 9th – 10th in Tunica, Mississippi and was attended by approximately 40 NAACP Board members.

The retreat kicked off with a welcome speech from NAACP Interim President, Derrick Johnson, NAACP Board Chairman, Leon Russell, and the ECJ Director, Jacqui Patterson.

The speakers represented a wide range of experts in the following sectors:

  • Labor industry and union organizing
  • Renewable energy nonprofits that focus on solar
  • Communications and media
  • Environmental justice organizations
  • And representation from a broad network of NAACP board members and unit ECJ Chairs

The focus of the retreat was on how energy justice relates to the NAACP civil rights agenda and attendees focused on a variety of topics including:

  • Local hire provisions and the black to green pipeline – keeping black communities and local communities at the forefront of good, clean, and renewable energy jobs and apprenticeships.
  • Community Solar and net metering – how reliance on dirty, non-renewables like coal impact the health of the black community and people living in poverty, and how creating community solar initiatives can provide a long-term solution to these issues.
  • Unbought and Unbossed – Board members learned the deceptive tricks that the corporate energy companies will do in order to buy off local NAACP organizations and how to respond when these incidents happen.
  • Shifting the narrative – many people have preconceived notions about environmental justice as a whites-only issue or an issue that has little to do with their lives and more about recycling, etc. Board members received training on how we can shift this narrative to include environmental racism, health impacts, job issues, etc.

Highlights included:

Kathy Egland, NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Sub-Committee Board Chair, opened our Board Energy Justice Training with a powerful presentation on the Socio-Economic Impacts of Climate Change:

“There is no such thing as clean coal. There are good clean and green jobs that the black community can benefit from. We have suffered and we deserve clean energy and green jobs.”

 Charles Taylor, Mississippi’s NAACP President offered information on Rural Electric Co-Op Democratization:

“Many Mississippi residents spend upwards of 42% of income on utilities with no say in whether that energy is from renewable sources or not.”

Rosemary Harris Lytle, NAACP Rocky Mountain Conference President, worked with returning citizens and the green labor industry:

“We create a green and inclusive economy for returning citizens and support them through their reintegration process from a social justice lens.”

The NAACP Board refreshed their knowledge and commitments to continued education and implementation of energy justice initiatives in their regions.  Many responded with affirmations and projects they are committed to seeing through in order to further energy justice in their civil rights work.

If you are interested in learning more about NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program, follow us on Twitter @ECJP_NAACP or visit us at naacp.org.