Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day (despite Dick Cheney’s objections), and while Grist is taking the day off, it’s worth remembering both the incredible progress the U.S. has made on civil rights in a relatively brief time (Matt Yglesias has some good stuff on this subject) and one area where justice continues to lag, namely, the environment.

The low profile of the environmental justice movement within the larger green movement is a scandal, and one of the issues we’ll be discussing more in our ongoing series on the (alleged) “Death of Environmentalism.”

For more on environmental justice, check out this EPA page, the Environmental Justice Foundation, and the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark University, where we find the principles of environmental justice and this bit of history:

Just three decades ago, the concept of environmental justice had not registered on the radar screens of environmental, civil rights, or social justice groups. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. went to Memphis in 1968 on an environmental and economic justice mission for the striking black garbage workers. The strikers were demanding equal pay and better work conditions. Of course, Dr. King was assassinated before he could complete his mission.

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Of all the many quotes from perhaps the most quotable man of the last century, on this day environmentalists should above all heed this one: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

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