MLK: An Inspiration for Faith Leaders to Stand for Environmental Justice

By Nichole Tucker

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) was ahead of curve in the late 60s when he protested the unhealthy living conditions people of color experienced in inner cities like Chicago. Now, Americans of all backgrounds are faced with climate change; a threat to health and environmental justice. It is time to finally make America a just place to live and breathe.

Dr. King once gave a sermon in which he mentioned environmental justice and how injustices merely begin as isolated problems. Later, injustice spreads; becoming a national issue.
It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. -MLK
An associate of the late Dr. King and member of the Blessed Tomorrow leadership circle, Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley gave the ACLS17 attendees clear advice on how leaders can make a big difference. First, leaders must take up a new way of thinking and speaking. [WATCH] - Rev. Durley speaks in the Justice & Inclusion panel at ACLS17.

The Civil Rights Attitude

Climate is something that most Americans already understand. This is one realization that Rev. Durley came to during his work as an activist. So, moving forward, Americans must focus less on climate change and more on attitude change. Attitude, according to Rev. Durley is that which drives people. Based on original research, ecoAmerica finds that American attitudes toward environmental issues like climate change are already evolving. According to the report, in the past year, there has been a steady increase in concern about climate change, which gives hope to people in leadership. As we’ve discussed many times, faith leaders are uniquely positioned to share knowledge and lead by example. These changes in American perspectives are important because as leaders spread ideas for climate solutions and, as Rev. Durley said, “spill the feeling to the masses, ” momentum can be gained in efforts to curb climate change. This level of leadership will require hard work, and Blessed Tomorrow is working to provide help and support to faith leaders across the country in their efforts.

Take Risks, Take Action

The Civil Rights Movement like all worthy undertakings required gumption. With a 10-point increase in the number of Americans who reported that they discuss climate change in their place of worship in the past year, it is clear that the country is on its way. Leaders, however, are required to do more. In other words, it is time to stop talking about it and start doing something about it. Leaders of all faiths have already begun this work in the past year by;
  • Drafting resolutions
  • Creating green worship centers
  • Providing aid to natural disaster survivors
  • Advocating for victims of environmental injustice
Faith leaders of today have positioned themselves as shepherds to make the ultimate impact that will lead to what Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley describes as the next kairos moment or a moment of great opportunity. It was the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King who began this tradition of care, leadership, and action.

Nichole Tucker earned a Master's degree in Media & International Conflict from University College Dublin to help improve global issues, like climate change. 


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