Welcome, welcome, welcome! Just time for a quick recap in pictures of the last week or so in Africatown’s struggle for environmental justice.
At the Moving Forward Together conference in Carson, California, lifelong Africatown resident Ruth Ballard was reunited with childhood friend Evelyn Knight, who is herself now an environmental justice organizer in Long Beach, California. She also was introduced to US Southeast port city environmental justice organizers like Omar Muhammad with Charleston’s Low Country Alliance for Model Communities. The conference brought together environmental justice organizers from inland and sea port cities from across the world. We learned about environmental best practices being implemented in Pacific Rim ports like Los Angeles, Oakland, and Hong Kong and about the leading scientific evidence of profound impacts of diesel particulate matter.
MEJAC then partnered with the historic Yorktown Missionary Baptist Church, the Mobile County Training School Alumni Association, and Oberlin College to bring former EPA Senior Advisor on Environmental Justice Mustafa Santiago Ali to Africatown for a lecture and discussion relevant to where the community goes next in its struggle for environmental justice, which can view all of by clicking this link. The esteemed Hip Hop Caucus organizer was joined by Dr. Rosemary Ahtuangaruak and President George Edwardson of the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope and environmental manager for the Alaska Native Village of Nuiqsut Dr. Rosemary Ahtuangaruak who both assisted in kicking off our National Science Foundation-supported oral history project for the Africatown community.
Later in the week after several days of oral history workshops and artifact digitizing and cataloging with the historic Union Baptist Church (much more on our National Science Foundation-supported oral history grant project very soon!!), MEJAC partner Public Lab hosted a workshop funded by our National Academy of Sciences Gulf Coast Citizen Science Capacity Building grant program to teach our National Park Service-supported Africatown Connections Blueway team how to use weather balloons and kites to conduct aerial mapping!
After a week of all that, MEJAC capped the excitement off Saturday night by having the distinct honor of receiving a public service award from the Bahá’ís of Mobile in recognition of our work in Africatown and the Mobile region on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth their religion’s founder Bahá’u’lláh! It was a beautiful event of prayer, food, dancing, and social service. Others recipients included Surgeon General Regina Benjamin’s Bayou Clinic, Mr. Isaac White, Sr. of White’s Barber College fame, and Mrs. Behnaz Ghasemi in her role at the Catholic Social Services Refugee Resettlement Program.
A busy week to say the least! But we’re really just getting started!