AFRICATOWN hosts Ben Jealous and other Sierra Club Executives
New Executive Director and former NAACP President Ben Jealous and other National Sierra Club Executives arrived in Africatown the evening of February 13th at Yorktown Baptist Church where they were met by members of Mobile’s Chapter of The Sierra Club, members of the Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition, members of Africatown’s C.H.E.S.S. Community Organization and Africatown residents & supporters that have supported Africatown in its struggle against environmental racism. Also there to meet and greet the Sierra Club Executives were State Representative Adline Clark, Keysha Brown representing The Mayors Office, an officer from Mobile’s NAACP Chapter and William Strickland with The Mobile BayKeepers. Traveling with Executive Director Ben Jealous were: Ramon Cruz – President and Board Chair, Erica McKinley – Chief Legal Officer, Damon Lipscomb – Special Assistant, Heather Wilson – Communications & Digital, Kevin Harris – Communications & Digital, (Mobile’s own)Derrick Figures – Labor and Economic Justice Director, Charline Whyte – Senior Campaign Representative-Beyond Coal (Alabama Resident), Emily Bosch – Deputy Press Secretary – Beyond Coal (Alabama Resident), Jasmyn Story – Conflict Transformation Strategic Advisor (Alabama Resident), Joi Travis – Alabama Sierra Club Chair and Jocelyn Travis – Central Region Organizing Manager.
When new Sierra Club E.D. Ben Jealous was told that his ” A Chat with Ben Jealous” tour included a trip to Alabama, the first thing he said was, “Make sure we include a stop in Africatown” and they did. The Africatown tour included most of our 35 sites that tell the story of Africatown in addition to the industrial presence that looms over the entire community and threatens the community’s continued existence. He and his staff promised to utilize their assists to help out any way they can especially to help make Africatown ” An African American Cultural Heritage Destination for Tourism” thus establishing The Africatown Community as “A Living Monument to The Last Shipment of Slaves to America”. He promised to return after the opening of The Africatown Heritage House with family members as a tourist for that experience.
The fact that Ben Jealous made it a point to make Africatown one of his stops on his nationwide tour says a lot. For me it says that we are all in this together and if this world is to gain from the current environmental movement, we must leave no one behind. To that end he is putting the might of the Sierra Club where its mouth is. They are not going to just say it, they are going to do it. Doing his discussion with the audience of about 100 people, 60% white and 40% black, residents pointed out the industrial “forces of evil’ as well as the local government non action to enforce the laws meant to regulate industrial pollution. Also mentioned were actions and decisions made by Alabama’s Department Of Transportation that seems to be designed to eliminate this Historic, Proud & Resillent Community.
All of Africatown and its supporters would like to thank The National Sierra Club, incoming Executive Director Ben Jealous and their entire Executive Staff for including The Africatown Community on their list of places to visit as they make their way around the country to visit Sierra Club Chapters and look forward to their return visit and a big THANK YOU to Yorktown Baptist Church and its members for hosting this historic meeting.
Major Joe Womack USMCR (ret.)
Executive Director of africatown-chess.org
Co-Founder of africatownhpf.org
Leader, Doer, Storyteller