Sierra Club names new Environmental Justice Award after Dr. Robert Bullard

Dr.RobertBullard (1)The Sierra Club's newest award is getting some great attention because of the namesake of our newest Environmental Justice Award. Last week we announced a new national award that bears the name of Dr. Robert Bullard, one of the founders of the environmental justice movement.

The new award will be given annually to an individual or group that has done outstanding work in the area of environmental justice. The first Robert Bullard Environmental Justice Award will be presented Nov. 21 along with the Sierra Club’s other 2014 awards.

Bullard said he was delighted to have the new award named after him. "I must say that I am humbled, honored, and at the same time excited to a have the Sierra Club name its Environmental Justice Award after me," said Bullard. "For someone who has spent most of his adult life teaching, writing and lecturing, I am speechless."

In 2013, Bullard received the Sierra Club's top award, the John Muir Award. The award recognizes individuals with a distinguished record of achievement in national or international conservation causes.

"His expertise and media savvy has garnered much needed attention and remedies for communities burdened with environmental hazards," said Leslie Fields, director of the Sierra Club Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships program, when Bullard received the award in 2013.

Sierra club awards
At the 2013 Sierra Club Awards ceremony: (L to R) Leslie Fields, Sierra Club Board Member Aaron Mair, former Sierra Club Board President Allison Chin, Dr. Robert Bullard, Sierra Club President David Scott, and Sierra Club Board Member Lane Boldman.

Bullard currently serves as dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston. Shortly after receiving his Ph.D. in sociology from Iowa State University, he and his wife, Linda McKeever Bullard, became involved in a lawsuit against the siting of a landfill in a Houston neighborhood that was 82 percent black.

In doing research for the lawsuit, Dr. Bullard and his researchers found that African-American neighborhoods in Houston were often disproportionately chosen for the city’s solid waste sites, even though blacks made up only 25 percent of the city’s population. This was the first study to document environmental discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.

Robert Bullard speakingBullard went on to become a leading scholar and advocate for environmental justice. He helped organize the first National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991 which produced the landmark "Principles of Environmental Justice" manifesto. He was a leader in lobbying the federal government to establish the Office of Environmental Justice within the Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Justice Executive Order issued by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

Bullard has written 18 books that address sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, industrial facility siting, community reinvestment, housing, transportation, climate justice, emergency response, smart growth, and regional equity.

His book Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality is a standard text in the environmental justice field. He has two Sierra Club Books to his name: his 1994 book, Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color and his 2005 book, The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution. His latest books include Race, Place and Environmental Justice After Hurricane Katrina: Struggles to Reclaim, Rebuild, and Revitalize New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and The Wrong Complexion for Protection: How Government Response to Disaster Endangers African American Communities.

In 2008, Newsweek named Dr. Bullard one of 13 Environmental Leaders of the Century. And in 2012, he was featured in Welcomebooks Everyday Heroes: 50 Americans Changing the World One Nonprofit at a Time. He received the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Achievement Award in 1990.

Top photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.