by Alyssa Leavy & Bashira Muhammad | Zoom Out Mycology
Zoom Out Mycology is honoring black environmentalists everyday in February on our Instagram page to celebrate Black History Month. These pioneers have brought their passion for justice, the natural world and above all, the people who inhabit it, to the fight for a greener, cleaner planet. They have pursued conservation, education, awareness, policy change, sustainability and public health. The men and women highlighted this month have been the voice for people who felt they had none or didn’t even realize they needed representation. Although everyone listed is highly regarded in their fields, we wanted to take the time to give their accomplishments the attention they deserve on a broader scale. Our writers hope you enjoy peeking through the small windows of our posts into the lives of these inspiring and committed individuals (and couples). We encourage readers to research more on your own, follow these heroes on social media and find inspiration in their lives and work. Check out our Environmental Justice Column for more sustainability solutions made specifically for Black, urban, and rural communities alike.
1. Carl Anthony is an African American architect, regional planner, social justice activist and author. He was born February 8, 1939. He has since founded Breakthrough Communities, a project dedicated to building multiracial leadership for sustainable communities in California and the rest of the country. He also founded the journal Race, Poverty, and the Environment (RP&E) in 1990.
Fun fact: Carl went to a public interest in Oregon and found himself amongst one-thousand white lawyers. In response to his surprising encounter he went back to Oakland, CA where he held a caucus to discuss people of color and the environment. The stories he received went on to become some of the first published in the journal RP&E.
Lisa P. Jackson
2. Lisa P. Jackson (born February 8th, 1962) is an African American chemical engineer who served as the first AA Administrator of the EPA from 2009-2013. She received her masters degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University in 1986! She’s well known for developing numerous hazardous waste cleanup regulations as well as as her work in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, fighting pollution, and encouraging environmentally conscious residential and industrial growth.
Fun fact: We featured Lisa P. Jackson in a blog post celebrating women in science. Check it out!
3. Dr. Rose Brewer is a professor of African American Studied at the University of Minnesota. She has published dozens of journals and articles on environmental racism, the prison-industrial complex, black feminism, and other complex intersectional issues. She is currently on the chair of the board of Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota.
Fun fact: Dr. Brewer helped organize the Black Environmental Thought Conference in Minneapolis in 2012.
4. John Francis is a Caribbean American American conservationist and educator. After witnessing a massive oil spill pollute the San Francisco Bay he took the responsibility of giving up motorized transportation for 22 years. During those years he trekked across the United States and most of South America hoping to inspire others to drop out of the petroleum economy.
Fun fact: He received his Bachelor’s degree from Southern Oregon University, which is in the same small town as our Oregon headquarters. In fact, he achieved his bachelors, masters and PhD all while taking a vow of silence and traveling on foot.
5. LaDonna Redmond is a food justice activist from Chicago. She became involved with food advocacy when she found her access to fresh, healthy, pesticide and GMO free food was limited. This prevented her young son from having his food allergies accommodated. In response, she launched an initiative converting vacant lots into urban farms and started creating a healthier local food system. She has raised awareness of how the lack of quality food affects the community by contributing to gang violence, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Fun fact: In April 2013 Redmond launched the Campaign for Food Justice Now (CFJN). This is an organization that “applies race, class and gender” to the food system because, it’s not just about nutrition.
6. Tryone B. Hayes is an African American biologist and biology professor at UC Berkley. He received his bachelors and masters degrees in biology from Harvard University and went on to receive his Ph.D in integrative biology from UC Berkeley in 1993. He studied the role of hormones in mediating developmental responses to environmental changes in amphibians.
Fun fact: Hayes is known for his research finding the herbicide atrazine is an endocrine disruptor that demasculinizes and feminizes male frogs.
7. Majora Carter is a black woman who’s making history as an environmental leader. She’s an urban revitalization strategist who has won more than 75 awards and has founded several different companies. One of which is Sustainable South Bronx. Carter grew up in the South Bronx and has been able to successfully use her vast environmental knowledge and innovation to give back to the community.
Fun fact: She developed the Hunts Point Riverside Park in 2006 which became the South Bronx’s first waterfront park in 60 years.
8. Wangari Maathai (April 1, 1940 - September 25, 2011) was an internationally renowned Kenyan environmental political activist. She is the founder of the Green Belt Movement, a non-profit located in Kenya, and was the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. She was born in Nyeri, Kenya, but her education formally began in the United States. Maathai received her masters in biological sciences from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006. She received her Ph.D from the University of Nairobi where she taught veterinary anatomy.
Fun fact: Wangari was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. She became the chair of the department of Veterinary anatomy and an associate professor in 1976 & 1977.
9. Nicky Sheats is a highly educated environmental justice advocate and change maker. He completed his undergraduate degree at Princeton University. He also studied law and biogeochemistry at Harvard University before completing his post doctorate at Columbia University. He has translated that knowledge into a career in environmental justice as a policy maker.
Fun fact: In 2016 Sheats helped develop a municipal ordinance in Newark, NJ that calls for the regulation of pollution caused by development projects.
About the Author
Zoom Out Mycology’s Environmental Awareness blog strives to explain and expose environmental topics and concerns to a wide audience. Our team consists of a diverse group of scientists, policy experts, and engineers that help describe the science behind environmental issues that you see in the news and experience in your daily life. We hope that this knowledge will help all of our readers embrace a healthy and sustainable lifestyle! If you are interested in being a guest contributor, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org