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

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

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