National Black Environmental Justice Network

June 10, 2020, Contact Mary Williams, Email: Phone 1-504-650-0587  NBEJN COVID-19 Statement and NBEJN, Police, Pollution and Systemic Racism Statement

June 10-, 2020— In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on the Black community, the National Black Environmental Justice Network (NBEJN) has reignited its commitment to improving the lives of Black people and addressing the systemic racism that denies them equal access to environmental, climate, racial, and economic justice as well as health equity, political power, civil rights, and human rights.

“As we have seen the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our community and the continued assaults on our environment by the Trump administration, there has been a groundswell among members, a resurgence of energy and purpose, that has brought us back together to protect Black America and put an end to these injustices.”

The NBEJN was founded in 1999 to address the environmental racism faced by Black communities across the United States. At its first national gathering in December of that year, nearly 300 Black grassroots, environmental, and economic justice activists gathered in New Orleans – along with youth, labor, health, and religious organizations as well as attorneys, academics, and other professionals – to develop strategies to address environmental and health disparities in Black communities.

In January 2020, members of the NBEJN discussed the need to formally come together again and map out a new strategy. Dr. Beverly Wright, Executive Director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and Dr. Robert Bullard Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy, Texas Southern Universityhave been named Co-Chairs and Tina Johnson Principle, Johnson Strategy and Development NBEJN Director, along with support from Peggy Shepard, NBEJN Executive Committee Member, Co-Founder and Executive Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and Donele Wilkins Executive Director, Green Door Initiative, NBEJN Executive Committee Member.

Steering Committee members include Mustafa Santiago Ali,Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization, National Wildlife FederationGlenn Johnson Professor, Texas Southern University ; Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director and Director of Policy Initiatives at WE ACT for Environmental Justice; Mildred McClain Harambe House, Executive Director ; Vernice Miller-Travis, Executive Vice President of the Metropolitan Group; Jacqui Patterson Director, NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program; David Padgett Professor, Tennessee State University; Payton Wilkins Executive Director, Coalition of Black Trade Unionist Education Center; and Sacoby Wilson Professor, University of Maryland.

“NBEJN is needed as much now as it was when it was first founded in 1999. The re-establishment of NBEJN, at its core, represents a re-commitment to Black people and their unfathomably relentless struggle to achieve the inalienable right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Dr. Beverly Wright, Executive Director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice

“NBEJN is needed today to fight these conversing threats and underlying conditions that are denying black people the right to breathe’ and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness enjoyed by white America,” say Dr. Robert Bullard, often called “the father of environmental justice.”

“While many in power seemed surprised that COVID-19 is killing twice as many Black Americans, those of us in the environmental justice movement know that the health impacts of cumulative and disproportionate levels of pollution in our communities have created underlying health conditions that contribute to our higher COVID-19 mortality rates. That is why we need to work together, as part of the National Black Environmental Justice Network, to address the systemic racism that has denied us environmental, climate, economic, and racial justice for far too long.” Peggy Shepard, Co-Founder and Executive Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice

As Black people in America we need an assurance to a commitment for the right to live a life with the same rights as anyone else. We deserve the right to breathe clean air, drink safe water and live in communities free from pollution.  NBEJN provides a platform for the voices of Black people to be heard.” Donele Wilkins, Founder/CEO Green Door Initiative

Environmental justice is social justice, racial and economic justice. NBEJN was founded on the principles of equity to ensure that Black people and their communities across the United States have a seat at the table or create their own tables. The struggle for equity is multi-faceted and our fight to dismantle systemic racism runs is connected to the movements of the United States. Now more than ever there is a need for our network to assist in elevating the voices and issues of our communities on our terms and with our own leadership.” Tina Johnson, Principle, Johnson Strategy and Development

“There has always been a need for Black community to unite around environmental justice issues. NBEJN is the link for that connection.” Payton M. Wilkins, Executive Director, Coalition of Black Trade Unionist, Education Center

A virtual press briefing will be held on Wednesday June 17, 2020 at 11 am ET.  RSVP to

For more information on the NBEJN, including how to join, contact Mary Williams,, 1-504-650-0587 or visit the website at