On Nov. 15, Miles College hosted an environmental justice symposium in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health.
The event was held with numerous experts offering critical discussion on the importance of environmental protection. Attendance was held both in-person and virtually.
The collaboration was made possible through the efforts of Dr. Jarralynne Agee, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Miles College, Dr. Roshunda Ivory from OASH, and Jeanie Williamson from the College/Underserved Community Partnership Program (CUPP). Dr. John Gilford, Regional Health Administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), was also in attendance and participated in a panel discussion along with Williamson.
During the event, since Miles College is an HBCU, a discussion was held on the emphasis HBCUs should put on environmental justice. The discussion was titled “Alabama HBCUs Emphasis on Environmental Justice.”
In May a federal probe into the Alabama Department of Public Health found that health officials knowingly allowed poor Black people in Lowndes County to be impacted by failing septic systems.
“The federal probe found Alabama health officials knew Black Lowndes County residents were disproportionately hit by failing septic systems,” according to a Reuters report. “But took no action to stop raw sewage bubbling out of the ground into backyards, leading to health impacts like hookworm intestinal parasites.”
In Oct. the EPA, announced it was opening a civil rights investigation into whether Alabama discriminated against Black residents when distributing funds for wastewater infrastructure.
The probe’s findings and the EPA investigation underscore the impact and necessity of discussing environmental racism and justice particularly as it relates to Black residents in Alabama.