HPDP researchers joined with community partners to celebrate the birth of the environmental justice movement in Warren County on September 16th.
In 1978, toxic waste including polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs were illegally dumped along the roads of North Carolina. State officials decided to deposit the toxic soil in a new landfill in Warren County, but citizens of the area protested their decision. Protestors were arrested, some many times, and some laid down in the road to prevent the trucks carrying toxic materials from dumping into the landfill.
The ceremony on September 16th marked the anniversary of those protests, and celebrated the dedication of the protestors to protect the community. Community leaders also unveiled a historical marker commemorating the protests. Molly De Marco, a research fellow at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention who leads several research projects in Warren County, helped to plan the events. Reverend Bill Kearney, who partners with De Marco in her research, also served on the planning committee.
“We've partnered in research with members of the Warren County community for about four years, focusing on promoting health,” said De Marco. “The connection to the birthing of the environmental justice movement there is never far from our minds – whether as a touchstone for how the community has come together before or as an opportunity to provide new recreational facilities in a part of the county that has none.”
Kearney said the celebration was a great success.
“The weather was perfect and everything went so well,” he said. “We were really blessed to have so many environmental justice icons there to share their stories. Rep. Butterrfield and Ben Chavis flew in from Washington, DC and Orlando, Fla, respectively, just to participation in our historic celebration.”
To read more about the celebration, please go to:
To read more about De Marco and Kearney’s research, please go to: http://www.hpdp.unc.edu/research/sustainable-agriculture