Celebrating Black women leaders in the environmental movement


For generations, Black women have built a movement around community and climate resilience. In the face of racial injustice, gender inequity, economic disparities and disproportionate environmental impacts, Black women have forged a path which recognizes that justice in any form requires justice in all forms, and a thriving earth requires thriving communities.

In the 1970’s and 80’s, Hazel M. Johnson led grassroots efforts to address environmental racism in the South Side of Chicago, which led to her being widely regarded as the “Mother of Environmental Justice”. Kimberlé Crenshaw, a critical race scholar, civil rights advocate, and law professor at both Columbia and the University of California Los Angeles, developed and coined the theory of “intersectionality”. And across the globe, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai founded Kenya’s Green Belt Movement and led the way as a shining example of ecofeminism.

The powerful legacy of these women continues through the leadership and work of leaders across the Women’s Earth Alliance. Leaders like Dominique Thomas, Stephanie Hicks Willet, Kiya Leake, and others are creating history every day, taking a stand for a just and thriving planet. 

Black History Month Messages from WEA Alliance Leaders

“From Africa to America, Black women have been a mighty force against all forms of injustice. Environmental injustice is an area that also calls us to lead the way. It is a huge amorphous threat to the earth, our families, and communities. Though it casts a giant shadow, Black women know how to wrestle with giants because we are magical. We can create, share, collaborate, and implement all at the same time while bringing others along with us. The threat is real, but so is our power. If you need proof check us out at Women's Earth Alliance.”

Stephanie Hicks Willet, AMMD Pine Grove Project

"Black women have been environmental justice leaders from the beginning, tending to the needs of communities without ever being asked. When I see more and more black women realized and uplifted as environmental leaders I’m reminded of my purpose and my place in this plight."

Kiya Leake, Women’s Earth Alliance

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