Friday, February 16, 2018

Begin the Day: The Fifteenth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture – "The First White Flight: Industrial Pollution and Racial Segregation in Birmingham"


What: Begin the Day: The Fifteenth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture – "The First White Flight: Industrial Pollution and Racial Segregation in Birmingham"
When: Sunday, February 25, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Avondale Regional Branch Library
Details: Free and open to the public. Refreshments provided.

As part of the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day every year, the Birmingham Public Library’s Department of Archives and Manuscripts sponsors Begin the Day: The Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture. Now in its fifteenth year, the King lecture has featured civil rights activists, scholars, children’s book authors, and community leaders discussing civil rights history and contemporary human rights issues including immigrant rights, voting rights, human trafficking, and Islamophobia.

For the 2018 King Lecture, Dr. Erin Mauldin of Samford University will explore environmental racism.

Discrimination over generations in urban planning, industrial development, and access to natural resources means that African Americans and other peoples of color disproportionately shoulder the burden of environmental risk in the U.S. Nowhere is this pattern of environmental injustice more starkly displayed than Birmingham, Alabama. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Birmingham's economy depended on heavy industry and loose environmental regulations. And as early as the 1890s, whites cut roads "over the mountain" to escape the city's industrial core, leaving African American families behind to live among higher levels of pollution, filth, disease, and industrial contamination. The white public came to associate African Americans with the dirt and pollution of many black neighborhoods, and this stigma encouraged continued disenfranchisement, racially segmented economies, and further environmental degradation. Historical environmental racism and the resulting "separate but unequal" access to clean air and water still affect Birmingham's citizens today.

Dr. Erin Mauldin is assistant professor in the Department of History at Samford University. A graduate of Samford, she holds a Ph.D. in U. S. Environmental History from Georgetown University. Her forthcoming book, Unredeemed Land: An Environmental History of the Civil War and Emancipation in the Cotton South, will be published in May 2018 by Oxford University Press.

For more information contact Jim Baggett at 205-226-3631 or jbaggett@bham.lib.al.us.

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