Why Fighting Climate Change Is a Fight for Civil Rights
The climate movement has often been painted as a battle between liberals and conservatives – but really, it’s a battle for basic human rights. As Martin Luther King III points out in this CNN opinion piece, we all have an equal right to clean air and water and healthy surroundings. Climate change threatens those rights – and it disproportionally impacts communities of color. King explains that almost 40 percent of the Americans who live near power plants are people of color, and African-American children are far more likely to die from asthma (which is worsened by pollution) than white children.
That’s why the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a fight not just for cleaner air, but for equal rights and climate justice. The plan will protect the health of all Americans, but especially the “environmentally disenfranchised” – and King urges those who care about equal rights to show their support.
By Martin Luther King III, contributor to CNN
It was perhaps not fully known that day in 1963, on the crowded steps of the Lincoln Memorial, that my father’s audacious dream would reshape the contours of justice and equality in America.
I’m proud of my father, but my pride cannot be fully measured by that snapshot in history. Because contrary to first glance, my father’s legacy comes not from his presiding over the final act in the drama of fighting for equal rights — his legacy is about setting the stage.
Because he knew then the enduring challenge we would still face today: So long as America is an economically and socially divided nation, the project of equality is a project unfinished.
My father, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., devoted his life to achieving civil equality in our democracy, but that was only the beginning. The poor and disenfranchised – too often those in communities of color – still disproportionately bear society’s harms through no fault of their own. That truth has compelled the fight for social justice across the spectrum: labor rights, women’s rights –and yes – environmental rights.
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