BHM QUOTE: Lisa Jackson, Head Of The EPA, On Black People Going Green

EPA Administrator Lisa P.Jackson addresses the Brownfields2009 Conference in New Orleans, LA. USEPA Photo Eric Vance

Below are the words of New Orleans native Lisa Jackson, the first African-American Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Sometimes I think we spend a lot of time being concerned with what President Obama does, but he has a cabinet and a staff.

Obama is not the only name we should know. These other people have names and we can’t even think of holding them accountable as well if we don’t know their names.

One of my African American colleagues told me about how, every year as winter was coming, his grandmother would get up on a chair and put up plastic sheeting over the windows.

She didn’t say she was ‘greening her home.’ She didn’t say she was ‘weatherizing the house.’ She didn’t call herself an ‘environmentalist.’

From her perspective, she was just keeping out the cold and saving money on the oil bill. But the issues that we label ‘environmentalism’ were an important part of her life.

The first step is to communicate ‘clearly’ the many ways people’s stake in the environment is greater than they may realize. In the newspaper a couple of weeks ago there was a story about an environmental curriculum being taught in inner city schools.

One of the teachers quoted in the article got right to the heart of the matter when she said, ‘You can’t have a kid in a violent neighborhood and say, ‘Let’s talk about the polar bear.'”

We can talk about our crumbling schools and how we need to rebuild them so our children can learn. However, that conversation must also include where we build these schools.

We have to ensure we’re not building them in the shadow of polluters that will make our kids sick, that make them miss day after day of class with asthma or other health problems. ~Lisa P. Jackson, the first African-American Administrator for the EPA

Read her entire speech “Remarks to the Conference on Environmental Justice, Air Quality, Goods Movement and Green Jobs, As Prepared” at

Below is Lisa Jackson in a video talking about the “Seven Priorities for EPA’s Future”.

Seven Priorities for EPA’s Future

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