Black History Month Features Speaker on Environmental Justice

CBU announces two campus events in celebration of Black History Month:

Thursday, February 13
Black History Month Lunch and Entertainment
Special performances by CBU African American Greek Organizations and the Divine Gospel Choir
11:00a.m.-1:00 p.m. (performance will begin at 12:00 p.m.)
Alfonso Dining Hall
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Thursday, February 20
“Right in Your Back Yard”
Speaker: Ms. Rita Harris of the Sierra Club of Memphis

The speaker will explain how pollution sources such as factories, landfills, power plants and other similar facilities are disproportionately located in low-income and people-of-color neighborhoods and affect health and quality of life for all of us.
1:00 p.m., Spain Auditorium

Rita Harris has led Memphis-area environmental justice efforts since 1991. She received the Chickasaw Group’s first Environmental Justice Award in early 1999 and began her work with the Sierra Club in the fall of 1999. Again, in December of 2007, the Chickasaw Group honored her with their Outstanding Community Advocate Award.

In addition to organizing residents in underserved neighborhoods, Harris designs and coordinates grassroots environmental conferences annually, is frequently asked to speak at events inside and outside the Club, and leads Toxic Tours to educate area groups about environmental justice. These tours point out the injustices experienced by individuals living in the shadow of polluters and highlights community success stories!

Her annual “Terrible Ten” reports highlight area polluters while helping communities understand the health effects of air and water pollution. The Tennessee Alliance for Progress (TAP) honored Harris for her many years of work as a community organizer with an award at their May 2008 TAP Long Haul Awards ceremony. In the spring of 2008, Harris was honored by the Memphis Women’s magazine as one of their “Green Women of Shelby County”.

Harris served on the Enforcement Subcommittee of the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council from 1996 to 2001, and currently serves as community co-chair of the 2008 Shelby County Sustainable Shelby Initiative’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

In 2011, Rita Harris won the Sierra Club’s Virginia Ferguson Award for her work to diversify the organization.

This event is co-sponsored by the Black Student Association and the Student Sustainability Coalition.

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