Author:  Kayla Benjamin   Published: 3/12/2024 Washington Informer

LaRuby May, partner at May Jung Law Firm and former Ward 8 council member. (Courtesy photo)

Academic and activist Robert Bullard has long been recognized as one of the environmental justice movement’s key founders. Not everyone may know, however, that his groundbreaking research in the early ‘80s was actually inspired by a 1979 lawsuit brought by attorney Linda McKeever Bullard — his wife. That case, Bean v. Southwestern Waste Management Corp., was the first environmental discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history.

Black women have led the fight against pollution and the way toxins disproportionately harm Black, brown and low-income communities from the beginning. It’s an intersectional fight, with factors like age, disability, income, race and education all factoring into a person’s or community’s risks for toxic exposures.

It’s intersectional in another way, too: environmental injustice demands attention from all sectors, especially as our planet gets hotter. Climate change stymies progress toward addressing air pollution disparities and creates new or worsening inequalities when it comes to flood, storm and wildfire risks.

But Black women are leading the way on toward solutions across industries. In celebration of Women’s History Month, check out how these three history-makers are tackling environmental justice in the architecture industry, the courtroom and the boardroom.