fbpx Skip to content

From Civil Rights to Environmental Justice, DeKalb County Takes Action at DeKalb Green New Deal Event 

JULY 2, 2024

Panelist speakers from left to right: Codi Norred, Attorney Gerald Griggs, Joanna Kobylivker, Commissioner Ted Terry, Pastor Lee May, Djuan Coleon Smith, Lavonya Jones, and Rev. Marlin Harris

DEKALB COUNTY– This past weekend, Commissioner Ted Terry (D-District 6) alongside faith leaders gathered with community members to discuss the intersectionality of civil rights and environmental justice, underscoring the imperative to protect fundamental human rights like access to clean water and a safe environment for all residents regardless of race or socio-economic status. 

DeKalb County residents have a long history of fighting against environmental injustices and this year Commissioner Terry proposed a resident-let environmental justice commission to address and advocate for environmental injustice and collaboratively identify short and long-term mitigation and restoration goals. The Board of Commissioners will vote on this resolution on July 23rd.

“As we seek to establish the Environmental Justice Commission, I want my community to feel empowered as we collectively address the environmental injustices that have burdened our communities for too long,” said Commissioner Terry (D-District 6). “Together, we will work to restore and improve a DeKalb County where environmental equity is not just a promise, but a reality.”

Panelists drew parallels between civil rights and environmental justice, emphasizing both as essential fights for human rights and calling for community action in the same spirit of activism that defined the Civil Rights era.

“The Civil Rights movement was about fighting for our basic human rights and yet again, we find ourselves in the same position, watching both action and inaction deteriorate the world we live in,” said Reverend Gerald Durley. “We can no longer accept that people in underserved communities are the most vulnerable to systematic neglect that impacts our waterways with waste and plastic and our neighborhoods with smog and pollution.” 

Participants highlighted the disproportionate impact of pollution on underserved communities and advocated for clean up measures that would hold entities accountable for environmental harms.

“We need our communities to feel empowered, to know that they don’t have to endure the environmental injustice imposed on them,” said Attorney Gerald Griggs, President of NAACP Georgia. “That’s why we need to have these community events, to have these conversations so that together we can create a DeKalb County where everyone’s human rights are protected.” 

There were close to one hundred residents present at this event, many of which expressed their interest in joining the proposed environmental justice commission.