NAACP Endorses Statement on the Nation’s Ethical Obligation on Climate Change

Posted November 29, 2011 by jacquipatterson1
Categories: Uncategorized

The NAACP has endorsed the Statement on the Nation’s Ethical Obligation to Address Climate Change. In signing this statement, we recognize that climate change is a real, dangerous, and rapidly worsening problem with deep moral implications. We must also acknowledge and act on our long-standing moral obligation to protect current and future generations from suffering and death, to honor principles of justice and equity, and to protect the great Earth systems on which the wellbeing of all life, including ours, depends.

To read the full statement and endorse, please click here.

Below, please see some of the statements made by NAACP faith leaders:

Reverend Theresa Dear, NAACP National Board Member and Dupage County Branch President

 

In this video Reverend Dear, NAACP National Board Member and Dupage Illinois County Branch President, provides testimony for the EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Rule for Power Plants Hearings which took place in May 2011 in Chicago, IL.  In this video she talks about the effects of lead on children, child bearing women, and fetuses in utero.  She calls on us to speak for them in telling the EPA that lead level compliance needs to be brought down from 5% to 0%.

Pastor David Bullock, Branch President, Highland Park NAACP

In this video PastorDavid Bullock, is at the Michigan Town Hall Meeting regarding pollution from coal fired power plants, which took place in Detroit Michigan in July of 2011.  Pastor Bullock talks about how environmental toxins polluting our air, water and land are adversely affecting the health of communities.  Pastor Bullock speaks of the need to stand together in solidarity in calling on the EPA to enact stronger standards to protect communities from air toxins.

Reverend Wendell Anthony, Detroit Branch President, NAACP

In this video, Reverend Wendell Anthony, Detroit Branch President is at the Michigan Town Hall Meeting on coal fired power plants which was held in Detroit, MI in July 2011.  Reverend Anthony speaks of how the coal fired power plants have created severe health problems, particularly in communities of color around our nation.  Reverend Anthony calls on members of Congress to help maintain healthy communities.

Coal Blooded Illinois Report Release–Chicago Mercury and Air Toxics Rules for Power Plants Hearings

Posted June 12, 2011 by jacquipatterson1
Categories: African American Climate Advocacy

On May 24th in Chicago, Illinois during the Mercury and Air Toxics Rules for Power Plants Hearing, the NAACP and LVEJO co-hosted a Press Conference and Film Screening to release the report NAACP and LVEJO  jointly released with the Indigenous Environmental Network, with lead researcher and author Adrian Wilson.
 
The “Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People in Illinios” Report Release Press Conference featured statements from Jocelyn Travis of the Executive Committee of the NAACP Ohio State Conference, Reverend Homer Cobb, Branch President of NAACP Hammond, IN, Attorney Rose Joshua, Branch President of NAACP Southside Chicago, IL, Leigh Touchton, Branch President of NAACP Valdosta-Lowndes, GA, and our valued partner, Kimberly Wasserman, Executive Director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.

We also held a film screening of “Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People–THE FILM” our amateur video production from our “Clearing the Air Road Tour” conducted last year, which provided the qualitative data for the Coal Blooded Report.

Coal Blooded from Jacqueline Patterson on Vimeo.

NAACP Delivers Critical Community Testimonies to Chicago EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Rule Hearing

Posted June 12, 2011 by jacquipatterson1
Categories: African American Climate Advocacy

Attorney Rose Joshua prepares her testimony for the Mercury and AIr Toxics Rules for Power Plants Hearings.

On Tuesday, May 24th, NAACP and LVEJO members gave 12 testimonies    for the EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Rule for Power Plants Hearings in Chicago. Testifiers were from our multi-state delegation as well as two people from LVEJO’s South-West side communities.  Unfortunately, according to observations by our delegation, out of the 200 plus participants, aside from 2 people from Michigan, we were the only African Americans present in the entire proceedings. Given the disproportionate impact on our communities as described above, this was appalling. Without our presence, participation of African Americans, 68% of whom are directly impacted by living in close proximity to coal fired power plants, would have been less than 1% of this gathering. This knowledge infused our team with a great sense of our significance because we were almost solely representative of the most affected communities and therefore our voices were absolutely critical. Observers were particularly attentive during our testimonies, erupting in enthusiastic applause each time, which was certainly rare for these proceedings. 

Below Reverend Theresa Dear, National Board Member and Dupage County Branch President gives a riveting and very provocative testimony:

NAACP testifiers included Attorney Rose Joshua, Chicago Southside Branch President, Jocelyn Travis, Ohio State Conference Representative, Thelma Faulkner, Executive Committee At-Large Member for Chicago Southside NAACP, Al  Williams, Climate Equity Fellow for NAACP Detroit Michigan Branch (though he came on a bus from Michigan), Leigh Touchton, NAACP Valdosta Georgia Branch President,  Reverend Homer Cobb, NAACP Hammond Indiana Branch President, and Reverend Theresa Dear, NAACP Dupage County Illinois Branch President and NAACP National Board of Directors Member.

EPA Panel Listens to Testimonies

 

Theresa Faulkner of the NAACP Southside Chicago Branch Gives Her Testimony

 

Auriel Bannister of LVEJO and Attorney Rose Joshua, NAACP Southside Chicao Branch President Provide Testimony

 
 

Kimberly Wasserman, ED of LVEJO and Ian Viteri, LVEJO Organizer, Give Testimony.

 

Jocelyn Travis of the NAACP Ohio State Conference Shares Her Experiences and Analysis with EPA Panel

 

NAACP and LVEJO Host Teach-In and Prayer Vigil on Addressing Pollution from Coal Plants

Posted June 12, 2011 by jacquipatterson1
Categories: African American Climate Advocacy

From May 23rd to 24th, the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, in conjunction with NAACP state conferences and branches in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Georgia, as well as the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, organized 48 hours of activities on engaging communities on the issue of pollution from coal fired power plants.

Given that 68% of African Americans live within the toxic zone of a coal fired power plant and given that emissions from coal fired power plants have been linked to asthma, lung disease, and poor birth outcomes, all of which disproportionately impact African Americans, this is a critical issue for us. Also proximity to commercial facilities like coal fired power plants has been linked to diminishing property values by up to 15%, which further compromises what is already a depressed financial state for many of us.  Also exposure to some of the toxins associated with these plants has been tied to ADD and ADHD, and also loss of school participation for children with chronic illness which then links to school performance as well as employment challenges and potential increased risk of incarceration, given the link between not performing at grade level by 3rd grade being an indicator of subsequent incarceration.  All of this and more are illustrative of the clear need for NAACP leadership on addressing the issue of increasing regulations of pollution from coal fired power plants.

On May 23rd and 24th, the NAACP stepped up to make sure our voice was heard and our influence was felt on this issue:

  • On Monday, May 23rd, we co-hosted, with LVEJO,  a 4-hour Coal Pollution Free Communities Teach-In at Café Catédral  in Southwest Chicago, where we gave a training based on the findings of the report, “Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People”  on the impact of coal fired power plants on communities of color.

    WIth a backdrop mural depicting poisonous coal plants, Southside Chicago Branch Members including President Rose Joshua, Robert McKay, an Thelma Faulkner, as well as National Board Member and Dupage County Branch President Theresa Dear listen at the Teach-In. Also pictured on the right is Howard Ehrman of LVEJO.

 

Kimberly Wasserman, Executive Director of LVEJO speaks while Jocelyn Travis (left) of the Ohio State Conference, Leigh Touchton, President of the Valdosta-Loundes Branch of NAACP, and Jacqui Patterson, NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Director, listen.

  • On the evening of the 23rd our group was joined by others at the Crawford Coal Fired Power Plant, which was the 3rd worst ranked plant in the Coal Blooded report.  Led by NAACP Board Member Reverend Theresa Dear and NAACP Hammond Branch President, Reverend Homer Cobb, we conducted a prayer vigil by candlelight where we prayed for those we had lost and those who are still suffering from the toxic exposure of coal fired power plants.

Reverend Homer Cobb, NAACP Hammond Branch President, Speaks at Prayer Vigil

 

Reverend Theresa Dear led the group in prayer as all held hands.

 

NAACP Delegation at the Prayer Vigil--Crawford Plant in the Background

Nature’s Fury—the Impact of Climate Change in the US South DAY IX Monday

Posted May 22, 2011 by jacquipatterson1
Categories: African American Climate Advocacy

Double Jeopardy in Port Gibson?

The civil rights heroes and I reunited for a trip to Port Gibson, MS , county seat for Claiborne County, because of its current and impending flooding and because of a feared risk from the neighboring Grand Gulf Nuclear Station which is located practically on the banks of the Mississippi River.

As we drove into town, the first sight that struck us was the American Red Cross “operations” which consisted of a table, two chairs, and two young men sitting in front of City Hall. This became increasingly significant during the course of the day as we gained a growing understanding of the extensive existing needs which are sure to grow by several factors over the coming days.

In our conversation with the gentlemen, the first thing we found out was that the closest Red Cross shelter was 60 miles away in Natchez. For us, this was strikingly disturbing because, in a town where the average per capita income is $12,000 which is less than one third of the national average of $38,000, we questioned the capacity of flood stricken residents to journey 60 miles for shelter.

We also found out that there was a small shelter being operated by “TEAM” or “Mr. Doss”. We visited Mr. Doss who runs TEAM, a non-profit organization which had set up a 17 bed shelter.  When I suggested that he partner with Red Cross which has stated that they can provide beds and supplies to certified shelters, he laughed grimly stating that this was a non-starter. When I asked why, he cited a Red Cross rule which said that no Red Cross supported shelter can be within 7 miles of a nuclear plant.

At the shelter, Jesse Morris, Mr. Doss, NAACP Branch President Marvin

 
 

Bedroom at TEAM Shelter

We visited with several community residents to get a sense of existing impact and preparation of what is to come. We met an older lady whose community was already significantly flooded. The water was almost to her door and she had several sandbags in front of her door. As we listened with evident concern, she tried to reassure us by stating that she had another door on higher ground that she can escape out of if need be.  The Branch President is going to monitor and follow up if help is needed.

Ms. Boggs discussed threatening floods with Mr. Figgers and Branch President Marvin

 

Ms. Boggs protects her home as best as she can from the approaching water

 
 

The View from Ms. Boggs' Porch

 

 

We met another fellow on a block that was already inundated with water that had overtaken the road. He talked about how everyone was evacuating on his block, but he was upset because there was no prior notification to evacuate. Plus, he said he had requested, but received no sandbags, in spite of the obvious need. He said that FEMA had come out to do an inspection, so clearly officials were aware of the area and the imminent threat.

Home across the street from distressed gentleman

At Civil Defense, which runs the local Emergency Management Agency, we met with the Director, Mr. Ratliff where we discussed our concerns regarding the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station. He stated that there is “zero chance of a breach” because the nuclear reactor is 137 feet above sea level and that the highest the river is expected to crest is at 107 feet.  He did, however, acknowledge the sheltering issue as a serious gap and cause for concern. He quickly referred us to Reverend Coleman for further questions. As we left we took note of the map, the documentation regarding the evacuation plan for Grand Gulf should there be a nuclear incident, and a poster Mr. Ratliff had in his office about the nuclear station.

Grand Gulf Nuclear Station Poster Adorning Mr. Ratliff's Wall

 

Map shows proximity between Grand Gulf Nuclear Station and Port Gibson

Reverend Coleman kindly took us to visit many of the sites that are flood affected, including the nuclear station.

Grand Gulf Nuclear Station Cooling Unit

 

Located near the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, this would be a beautiful sight, if it wasn't supposed to be a road.....

 
 

Reverend Coleman checks flood water measuring stick...it had risen a tenth of an inch in a couple of hours

 
 

A bleak picture for one Port Gibson Family

 

No choice but to stop

 

Nature’s Fury—the Impact of Climate Change in the US South DAY VIII Sunday

Posted May 22, 2011 by jacquipatterson1
Categories: African American Climate Advocacy

 

Neglected Communities in Linden, AL

Alabama State Conference President, Benard Simelton, received an anonymous call saying that there was a community in Linden, AL that had been completely ignored by relief and recovery efforts. When I called to check in with Mr. Simelton on my way back from Mississippi he asked me to check out the situation and report back with my observations and recommendations.

I drove into the town of Linden, which, as it turns out, is the county seat for Marengo County. My first impression was of one of the many small towns I had now traveled through where the biggest store was Dollar General.   I’ve been to more Dollar General’s in the past couple of weeks than I’ve ever been in my life, I must say.  Anyway, as usual, it was at the DG that I was able to get the information I needed to do what I had to do.  A fellow who was working in back came forward at the request of the cashier and gave me exact directions on where I can find the devastated areas. He also stated without prompting that he was glad I was there because “No one is paying attention to those people out there and they really need the help!”

As directed, I drove up the road and, just as stated, when I looked to my left I could not miss the sight of extreme destruction which appeared to have been frozen in time, a month after the tornado occurred on April 15th. I turned into the community and was immediately struck all over again by the sheer power of the storm as I stopped for a moment to gaze at a piece of metal that was wrapped around a tree and contemplated the force it must have taken to put it there.

Metal from trailer home twisted around a tree

The next thing I noticed was two people. One was a man bent over with a garden hoe tilling the soil.  At that moment, surrounded by twisted metal, felled trees, abandoned household items, etc., I was filled with a sense of awe, wonder, and inspiration. Amidst all of this carnage, this man was determined to tend to and maintain the vegetable garden he had started before the storm, even while his house lay in ruins several hundred feet away.

Mr. Clark--Saving His Vegetable Garden

I walked up and was pleased to meet Ms. Gloria Clark. She shared that their family had moved from Tuscaloosa three years ago to the quiet of Linden, AL and built a home from the ground up where she lived with her husband and grandson.  On the day of the storm when they heard it coming, they huddled in the hallway and she laid on top of her grandson and her husband laid on top of both of them.  She described how it felt like it happened in a blink of an eye while at the same time it was almost in slow motion as they watched the power of the storm lift the roof from over their heads. As they watched the swirling wind above their heads, they were just grateful that their fervent prayers were answered and it didn’t take them as well.  The Clark family is fortunate to have homeowners insurance though they lamented that it will not come close to replacing the antiques or the family mementos.

Clark Home--Minus the Roof

 

Clark Home Living Room

 

Ms. Clark sorts through the remnants

 

After sharing her own story, Ms. Clark was extremely gracious to be my tour guide for all of my time in the Linden community as we picked our way through overgrown brush and rubble to walk around and dodged territorial dogs that had been left to guard family property.

One of the many damaged homes in Linden

 

Twisted remnants of a trailer home frame

First we met Mr. Ogden. He, his wife, and his children, a 5 year old son and a 7 year old daughter, had survived the storm in their home.  Their home was demolished and the family traumatized.  Now, Mr. Ogden says that whenever there is rain or even cloudiness, their son gets very scared and is afraid he is seeing funnel clouds all the time. Mr. Ogden admits that prior to the storm, they watched a few too many episodes of the Weather Channel and the combination was a frightening cocktail for his young son. He has since declared a moratorium on the Weather Channel.

Ogden Family Home

 

Wall from Ogden home blown against neighbor's house

 

Mr. Ogden's surveys what's left of the master bedroom

 
 

The Ogden family was also fortunate to have homeowners insurance, but the insurance fell far short of covering the extreme losses. So now Mr. Ogden is doing the necessary dance of applying for an SBA loan, which must reject them before they can apply for a FEMA claim.  Now the family is in temporary housing and he , his son, and nephew, were at the site of their home trying to salvage some of the household items and begin the massive process of rebuilding their lives.

Mr. Ogden's son and nephew salvage usable home contents

As we continued our walk about, we saw a trailer which had blown off its foundation, flew through the air for several yards and slammed against a tree and landed up-ended on its side. Ms. Walker described how the owner was pinned in the trailer, crying for help which everyone could hear as they emerged from the wreckage of their own homes. The woman was rescued by the neighbors, led by Mr. Ogden, who crawled through rubble in the dark and the rain to get to her. She’s in a nursing home now recuperating.

Space where trailer used to be

 

Flung trailer, only stopped by a copse of trees--somehow the elderly inhabitant survived

We found another trailer that somehow was completely turned upside down but fortunately all of the inhabitants survived. Another home was also destroyed to such an extent that it’s a wonder that the residents survived, but they did.  There were certainly injuries as one man broke his neck but survived.  Sadly one of the residents was reportedly literally split in half and he was the only fatality in the community.

Home totally upended, yet residents only had a few scrapes

 
 

Amidst the horrific wreckage, a lone pristine looking pillow dangles in the front by a broken rafter

FEMA came through and conducted assessments. The Red Cross set up a center for a week or two. According to residents, the local government has been less than responsive. The community felt like the attention they received was infinitesimal compared to other areas and when one considers the extensive needs.

Lawrence County Family Loses Much

Led by Jack Steele, NAACP Branch President in Lawrence County, I viewed a scene that had become all too familiar of plot after plot of property with a pile of lumber, tin, and household goods that used to comprise a family or individual’s home. He told us of one family where the father had lost his house, the son had lost his house, AND the family had lost the barbecue business. Fortunately, President Steele stated that most residents had insurance. Still, he says, he wishes that the branch had been able to do more to assist devastated residents.

Against the backdrop of another ominous sky only the smoker remains of the family barbecue business

Tanner in Limestone County, AL Repeats the Horrors of 1974

Though I started this journey in Tanner eight days prior, I returned to learn more. Leon Steele, cousin of Jack, showed me more and shared other stories.  He showed me the home of one man who had climbed into a hole in the foundation of his house. That tiny section of the foundation turned out to be the only piece remaining when the storm was over. All else was blown away.  This man’s home was destroyed for the second time. The first time was in the storm of 1974. He doesn’t plan to rebuild. Another person, Mr. Steele shared, lost his wife and child in the storm of 1974 and has now lost his home again.

Nature’s Fury—the Impact of Climate Change in the US South DAY VII Saturday—PART III

Posted May 22, 2011 by jacquipatterson1
Categories: African American Climate Advocacy, Uncategorized

Rescue Operation in Silver City

As daylight faded on a long and productive day, the team considered whether we should just make a beeline back to Jackson. However, there was one more stop we had to make in response to a call from Cliff Tanner in Silver City who said that there was a woman who had yet to evacuate from her flooded neighborhood.  We arrived at the house and found that the street adjacent to the house was completely flooded to the extent that one would need a boat to go down the street and all other homes had long since evacuated.

The street that became a river

We were still able to pull in front of the house and we met with Ms. Robertson. She shared that she is legally blind and thus can’t drive at night. She also shared that the reverse feature on her truck does not work.  She went on to say that she was planning to wait it out for another night and then head to her brother’s in the morning. She feared leaving her TVs and her deep freezer, which was filled with meat.  Ms. Robertson had received a visit from FEMA that morning and, though they acknowledged that the entire community with the exception of Ms. Robertson was waterlogged and had vacated the area, they said they couldn’t do anything for her until the water was actually in the house.

Slow but steady, water approaches Mrs. Robertson's back door

We saw that action was needed.  So 14 hours into our journey, in the dark of night, sometimes with only the flashlight from my camera as a guide, the team went to work packing up Ms. Robertson’s belongings so that she could make the hour plus drive to her brother’s house in Lexington.  The TV and deep freeze were loaded into the trailer hitched to the back of Ms. Robertson’s truck.

Frank, Jesse, and Cliff moving the deep freezer

 
 

Frank carries one of the televisions out into the car

 

There were many other items we could not load in or attach to the truck. However, the intrepid team found creative means of saving the balance of the items in the home. All were determined that the distraught Ms. Robertson would leave her home that night with relative peace of mind that all measures were taken to secure her belongings, as well as her safety.

Tough problems--creative solutions--suspending the couch on a ladder to evade the flood waters

 

Another creative maneuver--suspending the other couch on the kitchen counter

 
 

More creative maneuvering to save possessions

As we left, Ms. Robertson gave profuse thanks for the fortuitous arrival of the team.The next day, we heard from branch president, Cliff Tanner, who had alerted us to Mrs. Robertson’s situation in the first place, that he drove by her street and saw her bench floating in the lake that had become her front yard. Clearly we had arrived just in time.

Bench that was later found floating down the street


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