June 19, 2020
11:00 am EDT - 1:00 pm EDT
Mom's Clean Air Force
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This Let Us Breathe event will highlight the continual fight for racial justice, specifically, environmental injustices in the African American community. Our goal is to generate solutions through conversation that discusses how air pollution, climate change, and COVID impacts the African American community, and what needs to be done to ensure that we continue to advocate for equity, justice, and climate action beyond this national pandemic.
The event will feature panelists Representative Alma Adams (NC-12), Dr. Mildred McClain, Rev. Michael Malcom, Tina Spencer-Smith, and Catherine Flowers. The conversation will be moderated by Moms Clean Air Force’s National Field Director Heather McTeer Toney.
BACKGROUND: On June 19, 1865, the final group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, received news that they were free—more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The day became known as Juneteenth, (also known as Freedom Day) and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 45 states, including Florida. Juneteenth more generally observes the emancipation of enslaved African Americans throughout the former Confederate States.
Juneteenth represents the good and the bad in what makes the United States the country it is: It’s symbolic of a liberation, but one that was delayed due to consistent opposition and resistance to equality. In many ways, Juneteenth represents how freedom and justice in the US has always been delayed for black people.
Right now, we are in the midst of a global respiratory pandemic. America is facing major health and economic impacts of a national public health emergency that has filled our hospitals, closed businesses and schools, and killed more than 100,000 Americans. Preliminary research indicates that even the smallest increase of exposure to air pollution is associated with an increase in complications and death from Covid-19. Pollution causes heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. These are exactly the underlying health conditions that make people more vulnerable to severe illness from Covid-19. Coupled with a history of disparities on African American communities, this statistic is even scarier. Social conditions, structural racism, and other factors elevate the risk for COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths in black communities.