A leading student/youth organizer dedicated to fighting for environmental
justice, Angela Elizabeth Brown has been called a "drum major for justice
in the rural South." Her efforts have served as a wake-up call to young people,
urging them to acknowledge their own power to shape their surroundings, and
ultimately, change their future.
Ms. Brown's ability to successfully mobilize youth was evident at the age ot- fourteen, wE she first organized her peers around such pressing issues as education, voter registration drives and women's support groups. Throughout college and graduate school, Angela concentrated her energies on educational justice. She helped bring together youth for the 1990 national March for Justice in Education, which took place in Selma, Alabama, and founded the Leadership Initiative Project (LIP) to promote youth leadership and fight discriminatory academic "tracking" in the North Carolina schools.
It was in 1992 that Ms. Brown began focusing on environmental justice, when she founded the Youth Task Force of the Southern Organizing Committee, a network of youth organizations spanning ten states and 85 universities. By organizing disenfranchised youth and communities of color to fight for environmental justice, Ms. Brown is empowering them to seek out and sustain a decent quality of life.
Ms. Brown is part of a growing grassroots movement that is effectively capturing the attention of the U.S. government. A June 1995 report from the United States General Accounting Office acknowledged the urgency of environmental inequities: "The issue of environmental justice -- the question of whether minorities and low-income people bear a disproportionate burden of exposure to toxic pollutants and any resulting health effects -- has been the subject of growing concern over the past decade. The issue has become one of the top priorities of the Environmental Protection Agency."
Ms. Brown's successful organizing work with Greenpeace and the Youth Task Force resulted in preventing the installation of a PVC plant in Wallace, Louisiana, and halting the construction of a hazardous waste incinerator in Noxxubbe, Mississippi. Earlier this year, the Youth Task Force co-sponsored a march in Birmingham, Alabama, to protest the opening of a garbage transfer station in a minority neighborhood and kick-off a campaign called "Peace in the Streets, Unity in the Community for a Strong Black Nation." Ms. Brown and the Youth Task Force are currently working to create a National Black Youth Agenda.