Earth Day, an idea that was formulated 41 years ago is a recognized marker in American communities that is meant to encourage a communal push towards improving the environment.

It is meant as a day of solidarity and as Florida Courier columnist Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., senior advisor to the Black Alliance for Educational Options, says it should be a day of re-dedication to the continual fight of freeing black communities from the contamination and toxicity that currently exist and seek to destroy them. The day should be a reminder of the importance of environmental justice and inspire individuals to seek out ways to raise awareness about global improvement within their communities.

The official theme this year is “Earth Day 2011: A Billion Acts of Green”, the point being to encourage millions of individuals across the nation to perform an act of environmental service or advocacy that will better the quality of life on earth. African-Americans should rally together and begin to open their eyes to the importance of environmentalism, as global warming, toxicities, pollution, and other injustices disproportionately affect their communities.

“These dangerous problems are local, statewide, regional, national and international. In just about every other place in America where we reside, we find ourselves disproportionately with high rates of asthma and other respiratory diseases, multiple forms of cancer, and other sicknesses that are directly related to harmful exposure to environmental hazards in the air that we breathe, as well as in the water and food that we consume,” Chavis, Jr. writes.

“The “green” future for Blacks is not bleak. There are positive points in America’s green history that African-Americans can look too. Earth Day, which was originally organized in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, came to a head in the early 1980s. African-Americans were leaders in the environmental justice movement at the time, and in North Carolina and other states there was a polarized, vital necessity to fight against environmental racism. Today, the hip-hop community in some areas has become more environmentally conscious. In the South Bronx, grassroots attempts have been made to enlighten the black community on the importance of “going green”. Community leader Majora Carter has been inspiring a “Greening the Ghetto” movement with her environmental group, “Sustainable South Bronx”.

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