Open Letter to the Environmental Justice Community Rallying in Raleigh Today

We in the NC NAACP and Forward Together Moral Movement are glad to stand with you as we make the moral case for environmental justice.

I am pleased to welcome you to Raleigh to the People’s House. We are especially pleased to have Robert Kennedy, Jr. here, who has been a long-time fighter for environmental justice.

We must stand together to fight to protect our land, water, air – every part of our environment.

I’m delighted Rev. Curtis Gatewood, a strong servant of justice, is able to be there in my stead on behalf of the NAACP.

In the opening pages of my holy book, when God creates the world, he says it is Tov Meod, which in Hebrew means ‘very good’. The water was very good. The air was very good. The land was very good. God entrusted humanity not to destroy the environment, but to maintain it the way God made it – Tov Meod. Very good. Anything less is sin.

Dumping coal ash into our rivers violates the standard of ‘very good’. Polluting the air violates the standard of ‘very good’. Placing pollution with carcinogens in the communities of poor and black people and minority communities violates the standard of ‘very good’.

Environmental racism and classism and catering to corporations rather than making paramount the lives and health of all people and of our environment is not just bad policy. These actions violate the constitutional mandate to life. They violate civil rights. But even more important, because they violate the standard of ‘very good’, they are sin.

Dr. King said, “We must begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” I would add that we will not be able to conquerenvironmental injustice.

This is why we must stand united in this great work to redeem our environment, protect civil rights, and redeem the heart and soul of our politics.

Forward Together,

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II
President, NC NAACP