Oberlin College Students and Faculty Take Environmental Samples in Africatown
Continuing Oberlin’s Tradition of ‘Community-Based Learning’ and Social Justice
FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2015, AFRICATOWN, MOBILE, AL – Oberlin College has a long tradition of social justice, and the nearly 1,000 miles traveled for their Africatown ‘Community-Based Learning’ experience is no exception. 5 students and 2 faculty members will disembark Saturday on the 14 hour drive arriving in time for rest ahead of a busy schedule.
Sunday will see the students visit Africatown’s Union, Yorktown, and First Hopewell Baptist churches followed by a luncheon and tour of Africatown’s historic sites and the industrial incursion it is currently experiencing. Monday through Wednesday the students will be taking a variety of samples of different media testing for toxic environmental contamination long-suspected of contributing to the raft of chronic health problems from which Africatown’s residents suffer.
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and the trip’s faculty organizer, Janet Fiskio met Africatown residents and MEJAC organizers Mae Jones and Louise Moorer in First Nation’s Treaty 8 Territory, also known as Alberta, Canada, at the First Nations-organized Tar Sands Healing Walk. Fiskio explains, “Meeting Mae and Louise in Alberta was compelling and shocking to me. It is shocking that a community with such a rich history as Africatown would have been treated this way. Our students are honored and excited to have been invited down to participate in this ‘Community-Based Learning’ challenge.”
“Environmental justice is the civil rights struggle of the 21st century, and it demands community work,” she concludes.
This trip has been organized by Oberlin College faculty at the Environmental Studies and Africana Studies Departments as well as its Bonner Center for Service and Learning. Oberlin College was the first non-HBCU to admit African-Americans and the first to admit women.
MEJAC is a coalition of greater Mobile residents and civic organizations working in solidarity with our communities on the frontlines of environmental injustice to defend the inalienable rights to clean air, water, soil, as well as the human rights to health and safety. MEJAC stands for community self-determination.