Expert on ‘Environmental Racism’ to Deliver Johnson Lecture April 14
The “father of environmental justice” is making a rare visit to the College of Arts and Sciences.
Robert Bullard, dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University, will deliver the second annual John L. Johnson Lecture on Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m. in Maxwell Auditorium. Presented by Syracuse’s Department of African American Studies (AAS), this year’s Johnson Lecture is titled “Why We Still Must Focus on Environmental Justice: Dismantling Systems That Create Inequality.”
The lecture is free and open to the public, and is followed by a book-signing. Bullard’s visit is co-sponsored by AAS, Syracuse’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives, the McDevitt Center at Le Moyne College and the Department of Anthropology in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. For more information, contact AAS at 315-443-4302.
Kishi Ducre, associate professor and chair of AAS, appreciates the timing of Bullard’s visit. “Much of his work deals with environmental racism—the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color,” she says. “I can’t think of a more appropriate speaker, following the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris and the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Mich.”
Bullard has built a career on studying and campaigning against environmental racism, as well as championing the Environmental Justice Movement, which sprung up in the United States in the 1980s. He is the author of 18 books, including the best-selling “Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality” (Westview Press, 1990), which address such hot-button issues as sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, industrial facility siting, community reinvestment, housing, transportation, climate justice, emergency response, smart growth and regional equity.
The subject of major profiles by CNN and Newsweek, Bullard has been honored by such organizations as the National Wildlife Federation; the Sierra Club, which has named its new environmental justice award after him; the American Bar Association; and Iowa State University, where he earned a Ph.D. in sociology. An expert in the nexus of race, class and toxics, Bullard has held faculty or administrative positions at Clark Atlanta University; the University of California (Los Angeles, Riverside and Berkeley campuses); The University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and Rice University. He also has testified as an expert witness and served as a technical advisor on hundreds of civil rights lawsuits and public hearings.
“Just because you’re poor, just because you live, physically, on the ‘wrong side of the track,’ doesn’t mean that you should be dumped on,” Bullard has been quoted as saying.
The John L. Johnson Lecture is named for Syracuse’s first director of African American studies. Supported by a fund established by his friends and family members, the lecture series seeks to bring a prominent African American teacher-scholar to campus each spring. (The series was inaugurated last year by jazz pianist/composer Randy Weston.) Between 1966 and 1971, Johnson was a visible figure at Syracuse, spearheading the establishment of what would become the AAS department, serving as an assistant provost for minority group affairs, investigating the “Syracuse 8” football boycott, teaching in the School of Education and founding the King-on-Campus (nee Croton-on-Campus) program between the University and the Syracuse City School District. He left the University in 1971 to became associate superintendent of schools for specialized education in Washington, D.C.