This piece is excerpted from the essay “The Soul of Environmentalism: Rediscovering Transformational Politics in the 21st Century.” The full essay can be found here.
Elvis was a hero to most,but he never meant shit to me …— Public Enemy, 1989
Environmentalism in the United States has always been as diverse as our country itself. In the 19th century, for example, African-American abolitionists fought slavery as well as the use of arsenic in tobacco fields. Later, Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr. were only two of thousands of people of color whose movements for justice set the template for Earth Day. These leaders are part of our soul as environmentalists. The rebirth of the movement depends on being clear about that lineage.
The authors of “The Death of Environmentalism” begin by invoking their ancestors. “Those of us who are children of the environmental movement must never forget that we are standing on the shoulders of all those who came before us,” they write. They cite John Muir and David Brower... Read more