Environmental Justice: Rooting for Change is a multimedia exhibition by 6 to 14-year-old artists exploring environmental injustices around the world, from deforestation and contaminated soil to noise pollution and hazardous air quality. The Museum’s first exhibit since returning to school in-person, and 10th show overall, was created with visual arts, music, dance, and science classes across 8 KIPP Chicago schools.
In 1982, an environmental protest in Warren County, North Carolina, sparked the national Environmental Justice movement after the State decided to dispose of toxic soil in a small community with mostly Black residents. Residents and Civil Rights activists quickly called this out as environmental racism, citing that while the state population is 20% Black, 75% of the State’s toxic waste sites are located in Black communities. The movement for Environmental Justice was born in the United States with this protest.
While the issues explored in Environmental Justice: Rooting for Change affect us all, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and those with low incomes are disproportionately affected by the impacts of environmental hazards. As those in power make environmental policy decisions, the affected people should be included and centered in the discussions. Environmental Justice is realized when every person, regardless of race or income, lives in a healthy environment.
As students explored Environmental Justice issues from around the world, they simultaneously studied the activist movements that are happening to combat the harmful effects of these injustices fiercely. As a result, the work you see in this exhibition is ultimately a celebration of the people using their voices, asserting their power, and organizing to create meaningful change.
In our next edition, learn how one of our McNair Fellows is leading a partnership with KIPP Atlanta. Look for more about how the recreation of our Afrofuturism show is going in Atlanta!