Climate Change as a Natural Extension of the Civil Rights Movement

In this Huffington Post article, Reverend Dr. Gerald Durley of Providence Missionary Baptist Church and the Blessed Tomorrow Leadership Circle reflects on the 50th anniversary of MLK’s "I Have a Dream" speech, and draws connections between the American civil rights movement and climate change. Durley links his first-hand experience within the civil rights movement, and the drive for equality amongst all sectors of society, to the implications of the impacts of climate change, and the moral imperative to lead on and solve it. To note: In this piece, “civil rights” has been broadened from the definition of Constitutional rights to include access to health, economic sustainability, and equity.

Why Climate Change is a Civil Rights Issue

By Reverend Dr. Gerald Durley, Contributor to The Huffington Post and Retired Senior Pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church

In 1963, I was witness to history when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. set aside his prepared remarks on a sweltering August day to share with us his dream, a dream which we all share. At the time, I was just one in a sea of over 200,000 gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to rally for civil rights and voting legislation.
As a senior and president of our student body at Tennessee State University, the event represented the culmination of three years of organizing fellow students and the greater community in Nashville. And, like many present, I had no idea that it would mark a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement or that King’s words would become part of the American canon. Just a year later, after decades of sustained struggle, the Civil Rights Act was signed officially into law by President Johnson.

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