Why We Need to Highlight Climate Change for Black History Month

Our partner organization Sojourners is at the forefront of highlighting how climate change impacts African American communities in America. In a recent piece penned by Rev. Jesse Bottoms, Vice President of the National Baptist Convention USA, Sojourners highlights the high instance of climate-related health issues in these communities, detailing how black churches remained a salient voice in raising climate awareness. 

Leaders of black churches garnered 14,000 signatures in support of President Obama's Clean Energy Plan, which sets to reduce carbon emission in the U.S. by 30%. For Rev. Bottoms, the climate is a health issue as much as it is a faith one. Detailing the impact of the Clean Energy Plan, Rev. Bottoms explained that it will help 'avoid up to 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, and 300,000 missed school and work days. The estimated public health and climate benefits are $34 billion to $54 billion per year in 2030, significantly outweighing the costs of $8.4 billion."

How the Black Church Is Rallying for Climate Justice

Rev. Jesse Bottoms | Sojourners 

Black History Month is a time to reflect on the contributions African Americans have made to this country. We are right to pause and look back on those who have fought for justice and equal rights. But we mustn’t stop there. We also need to look forward and act to address one of the deadliest legacies of racial inequality: toxic pollution that is harming our children and poisoning our environment.

We knew it then and we know it now: black lives matter. This is not to the exclusion that all lives matter, but the focus should be on those who have been underserved and those who are more vulnerable.

In the U.S., we are seeing an alarming health crisis in the African-American community from climate change and air pollution. Historically, African Americans have had higher rates of asthma than the national average. And the problem is only growing worse: The greatest rise in asthma rates recently is seen among black children.

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