For Educators: Environmental Justice Movement



Environmental Justice is one in a series of lesson units to be launched as part of the Avoice Virtual Library. The lessons will provide teachers supplemental information about African American Congressional members' push, often in collaboration with grassroots organizations, for environmental justice for minority and low-income communities.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have been at the forefront of the Environmental Justice Movement, calling national attention to the disproportionate burden of pollution on the most vulnerable members of our society. Their public advocacy has included protesting the location of toxic waste sites in minority and low-income areas, calling for new and revised standards for clean air and water, as well as promoting environmentally progressive energy policies. Their efforts to bring Congressional attention to environmental injustices and raise the levels of awareness about the environment in their communities have brought about significant changes in environmental policy and oversight.

Through the use of documents and images provided on the website as well as suggested activities and readings to explore topics like the Hurricane Katrina Disaster and the Gulf Region, students will learn about the growing need for minorities to become more engaged in protecting their environment and how best to do it.

Grade Level: 8-12

Essential Question: Is it important to care about our environment? How may an unhealthy environment affect my personal life as well as my community?

Learning Objectives

Using documents, images, and articles from the Avoice Web site, students will:

Increase their knowledge and understanding of the environment and how human-induced waste and toxics impacts it;
Increase their awareness of environmental injustices in minority and low-income communities and how the CBC has raised awareness about these issues; and
Gain knowledge on how to they can participate in the process of protecting their environment.
National Learning Standards


NS 9-12.6: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives.

Content Standard F: A personal and social perspective of science helps a student to understand and act on personal and social issues. This perspective builds a foundation for future decision making.

Personal and Community Health
Population Growth
Natural Resources
Environmental Quality
Natural and Human-Induced Hazards

US History

Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the present)

Standard 2E: The student understands how a democratic polity debates social issues and mediates between individual or group rights and the common good.

Evaluate the continuing grievances of racial and ethnic minorities and their recurrent reference to the nation’s charter documents.

Select an activity below to view full activity guidelines:

Documents, Resources and Worksheets Used in Environmental Justice Movement Lesson Unit

Activity 1: Pollution: Why Should I Care About It?

Activity 2: The Birth of the Environmental Justice Movement: Warren County, North Carolina

Activity 3: Advocacy for Environmental Justice and the Congressional Black Caucus

Activity 4: Hurricane Katrina

Activity 5: How do I Make a Difference in My Community?

Quote by Robert Bullard

additional information and links.