Congressman Jamal Bowman and Tennessee Representative Justin J. Pearson deliver remarks to environmental activists during a recent awards ceremony in Washington, DC
Washington, DC — A few blocks from this year’s Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual gala, some of the nations’ hardest working young Black, Latinx, and Indigenous environmentalist justice leaders and community activists were being honored by Black Millennials 4 Flint (BM4F) and other major environmental organizations. With the national Capitol as the backdrop, BM4F presented the 2023 Young, Gifted, and Green 40 Under 40 during an awards ceremony held in Washington. New York Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) and Tennessee State Representative Justin J. Pearson delivered remarks recognizing the 40 awardees who grapple with complex solutions to solve the climate crisis and dismantle environmental racism.
“This year’s recipients, including our Honorary Awardee, the Children’s Environmental Health Network, are a celebration of excellence representing leaders who are positively impacting our communities, especially historically disenfranchised Black and brown communities,” said LaTricea Adams, BM4F founder, CEO and president. “This marks our 7th year of honoring those continuing the efforts our environmental elders started in their work to end environmental injustices.”
The 40 awardees come from a variety of organizations and backgrounds, including North Caroli-na-based William J. Barber III with the Rural Beacon Initiative; Alabamian Crystal Smitherman, who serves as the Birmingham City Council President Pro Tem; Raul Garcia, Vice President of Policy and Legislation at Earthjustice; David Mills with the Climate Action Campaign, to name a few. Among some of the recipients working in communities overburdened by pollution and entrepreneurs include Shamyra Lavigne with RISE St. James in Louisiana; Ashley Strozier from Communities First in Flint, Michigan; Dwayne Norris and Alejandro Alvarez, co-founders of the New York-based Soulful Synergy; Diamond Spratling, founder of Atlanta-based Girl Plus Environment; and Jordan Roberts, assistant director of Florida AM University’s Sustainability Institute. For the complete list of 2023 recipients, go to 40 Under 40 Award Recipients. Watch the full ceremony streaming on BM4F’s Facebook Live on October 26.
“You are the revolution that we need. Do not wait for anyone to give you permission. Do not let anyone tell you to wait your turn,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman. “You are ready to lead right now. And we need your relentlessness and courage as you continue to fight the fight to make our planet completely green, clean, renewable, and safe.”
Tennessee State Representative Justin J. Pearson, a past recipient of the 40 Under 40 award, delivered an inspiring “We the people” call and response message to the standing-room-only crowd, saying: “We, the people who are going to build this movement. We the people who are going to make sure those who have been left out, locked out and pushed to the periphery get brought to the center. We the people who will demand clean air, clean water and clean soil, not just for us but for our descendants and our descendants descendants. We the people who will fight for our collective freedom and liberation because ‘ain’t nobody free until everybody is free.’ We the people are going to change this country. We the people are going to change the world. I’m so glad to be in this room right alongside you. God bless you, and congratulations!”
A panel of reviewers selected this year’s finalists from nominees, including educators, scientists, artists, policymakers, healthcare/public health professionals, faith-based leaders, social justice advocates/activists, journalists, entrepreneurs, and social media influencers, to name a few. The title sponsor was the Environmental Defense Fund. Other sponsors included Climate Power, Cli-mate Action Campaign, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Earthjustice.
Black Millennials 4 Flint is a national environmental justice and civil rights organization with the bringing like-minded organizations together to collectively take action and advocate against the lead exposure crisis, specifically in African-American and Latinx communities nationwide.
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