Avoice Web Site to Launch Exhibit on Environmental Justice at ALC ‘08

Online Library’s Sixth Exhibit Highlights CBC’s Major Related Milestones and Legislation
September 26, 2008.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Avoice: African Americans in Congress (www.avoiceonline.org), the award-winning virtual online library of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF), today launched a new, digital-archive exhibit showcasing the influence and impact of black lawmakers in the environmental justice movement.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have been at the forefront of the environmental justice movement. They have called national attention to the disproportionate burden of pollution on society’s most vulnerable members and challenged the myth that African Americans are not concerned with the environment. Their efforts to protest the location of toxic waste sites in minority- and low-income areas, consistently high environmental-voting records, advocacy for new and revised standards for clean air and water, and promotion of environmentally progressive energy policies have resulted in significant changes in environmental policy and oversight.

The new exhibit, found at www.avoiceonline.org/environmental/, features an introduction on the environmental justice movement; a summary of the CBC’s public advocacy in the matter, with a spotlight on its efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; a focus on related legislation by the CBC and its members; an environmental justice timeline dating back to 1946; digitized documents and photographs, and links to valuable resources on the topic.

“This exhibit demonstrates the instrumental leadership role that the Congressional Black Caucus has played in environmental justice legislation,” said Elsie L. Scott, Ph.D., the Foundation’s president and chief executive officer. “The exhibit also highlights major milestones in the broader environmental-justice movement to give context to the CBC’s efforts. We hope it will cause other elected officials and the public to take action to ensure justice is maintained in their communities.”

CBCF and Avoice launched the exhibit during a luncheon at the Foundation’s 38th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the majority whip of the House of Representatives, was among those on hand to discuss the past, present and future of African-American environmental activism at the luncheon, titled “Realizing the Vision: CBC Leadership in the Environmental Justice Movement.”

Created in 2006, Avoice: African American Voices in Congress is a central source of information on black political and legislative participation. Its first five exhibits focus on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Bill, Origins of the CBC, the Voting Rights Act, the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the

Women of the CBC. Avoice exhibits offer rich media content and resources on historical and contemporary black policy issues important to researchers, academics, educators and students.

In addition to the virtual exhibits, Avoice also offers video interviews of five of the surviving founding members of the CBC and video tributes to two of the other eight founders. These videos help to capture the members’ memories on everything from their first days in Congress to their struggles to create the caucus in 1971 to the members’ many milestones.

Dell Inc. is the founding sponsor of Avoice. The Moorland Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, the official repository of the CBC’s archives, is a content partner with Avoice, and the University of Texas at Austin is the technology partner, responsible for the Web site’s design and development.

Kevin M. Brown, Dell’s vice president and chief procurement officer, and Harold Mitchell, a South Carolina state representative and founder of ReGenesis, Inc., joined Rep. Clyburn and Dr. Scott at the luncheon to help launch the new exhibit.

“Long before the terms environmental justice and environmental racism appeared in the 1980s, CBC members were actively engaged in the promotion of environmental safety in their communities,” said Brown, who is also a member of the CBCF Board of Directors. “Dell is proud to support the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s efforts to present the CBC’s achievements in a way that is so useful, informative and accessible to people wherever they may be.”

State Rep. Mitchell served as the luncheon speaker. His ReGenesis project began in 1998 as a community-wide movement to address environmental health issues in Spartanburg, S.C. A collaboration of energy and talent has transformed ReGenesis’ vision from an initial $20,000 federal grant into a multi-million dollar program with local, state and federal agencies partnering to provide health services.

Avoice debuted at the 2006 Annual Legislative Conference with four exhibits. More than 18,000 people focusing on issues impacting African Americans and the African diaspora attend ALC each year. The four-day conference features dozens of policy forums, general sessions, exhibits, a job fair, book signings and networking opportunities. Registrants include elected officials, business and industry leaders, celebrities, emerging leaders and everyday Americans.

Visit the new Environmental Justice exhibit!





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