Inspiring people: Robert Bullard

Robert Doyle Bullard is former Dean of the Barbara Jordan – Mickey Leland School Of Public Affairs and currently Distinguished Professor at Texas Southern University. Previously Ware Professor of Sociology and Director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University, Bullard is known as the «father of environmental justice». He has been a leading campaigner against environmental racism, as well as the foremost scholar of the problem, and of the Environmental Justice Movement which sprung up in the United States in the 1980s.

Over the 1980s Bullard widened his study of environmental racism to the whole American South, focusing on communities in Houston, in Dallas, Texas, Alsen, Louisiana, Institute, West Virginia, and Emelle, Alabama. Again he found a clear overrepresentation of environmental hazards in black areas as compared to white areas, causing increased health risks to black citizens. In 1990 Bullard published his first book, Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality. In the book, Bullard wrote that the Environmental Justice Movement, a grassroots movement by people of color then spreading across America to protest environmental racism, signified a new convergence of the civil rights movement and the environmental movement of the 1960s.

Bullard also played a key role in the organising of the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991. Starting out with a list of only 30 people of color groups working on environmental issues, Bullard expanded the list to over 300 groups by calling the leaders he knew personally and gathering information on other groups they had come across. It was these groups that attended the Leadership Summit in October 1991, at which a list of seventeen ‘Principles of Environmental Justice’ was adopted. Bullard’s expanded list eventually included groups from outside the United States, including Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico, and has been published as the «People of Color Environmental Group Directory» by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. In 1994 President Bill Clinton signed the Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898 after advice and research by a National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, which included Professor Bullard, who chaired the Health and Research Subcommittee.

Photo by JACK REDGATE on

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