Africatown on "60 Minutes"
Dec 3, 2020Africatown on "60 Minutes"
On Sunday, November 29th CBS "60 Minutes," featured one of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice's partner communities -- Africatown, a historic Black community in Mobile, Alabama.
Click here to view Africatown "60 Minutes" Report.
Read below about the HBCU-CBO Gulf Equity Consortium's work for environmental justice in Africatown
Unique consortium fights for the future of Africatown
Africatown, an historic Black community in Mobile, Alabama, is gaining national and international attention following the discovery of the Clotilda schooner on May 22, 2019. The Clotilda is the last known slave ship in America. One hundred and ten Africans kidnapped from their homeland in present-day Benin were forced on board the Clotilda for enslavement in Mobile, Alabama. The year was 1860 – the year before the start of the Civil War. What the people did with their newly found freedom at the end of the war was remarkable. From different areas, they came together and established their own community that they named Africatown. The homes, churches, and the Mobile County Training School are all a testament to the shared purpose of the founding families to establish Africatown as a residential community for themselves and future generations.
The vision and sacrifices of Africatown’s founding families are under assault by industrial corporations. Two of the five largest industrial polluters in Mobile County are clustered next to Africatown. Land and water contamination as well as air pollution threaten the health and wellness of Africatown residents. The pollution also contributes to climate change that has severe impacts on the Gulf Coast area where Africatown is located.
“The future of Africatown requires us to fight for environmental justice. That’s why we joined the HBCU-CBO Gulf Coast Equity Consortium,” said Major Joe Womack (USMC-retired). Major Womack founded CHESS Community to preserve the history and sustain the future of Africatown. CHESS, which stands for Clean, Healthy, Educated, Safe and Sustainable, works to protect Africatown against industrial expansion. The organization also works to restore natural surroundings and nearby waterways that children and adults in Africatown can enjoy.
The Consortium works regionally in the five Gulf Coast states to improve the lives of children and families in Black communities harmed by pollution and vulnerable to climate change. In the Consortium, community-based organizations partner with professors at six HBCUs for long-term collaborative research and action to achieve environmental justice and equitable climate solutions. The Consortium is co-directed by noted advocates and scholars Dr. Beverly Wright, Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, and Dr. Robert Bullard, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University.
“In Africatown and across the Gulf Region, we see historic African American communities used as dumping grounds for toxic industrial facilities and denied the assistance they need for hurricane and disaster recovery. The severe health problems from toxic exposure, which are worsened by COVID-19, and the inequitable climate risks suffered by Black communities are all rooted in systemic environmental racism. We have designed the Consortium to build a grassroots infrastructure that supports communities to lead the research for solutions and strategic actions for achieving them,” said Dr. Wright.