NAACP Indiana presentation at Facing Race “Our plight living within a hyper conservative state with hyper conservative policies”

We have over 35 NAACP branches across the state of Indiana. I serve as the NAACP Indiana Environmental Climate Justice  Chair.  I am a third Generation Human/Civil rights Activist, serving as  I am a member of Indianapolis Air Pollution Control Board, Grassroots Global Justice delegate to Paris COP21, and a member of many movements/environmental justice related boards.

Attendees at Facing Race “It Take Roots” workshop.

Julian Bond said, “If you don’t use your voice no one can hear you.” I had already been utilizing my voice, he just gave me full permission.


We, as Dr. Robert Bullard eloquently entitled his book, are working to eliminate environmental racism, in a “Quest for Environmental Justice”.  Over 15,000 of us marched  the streets of Paris. The more we connect, the more movement will occur. Our systems are  broken and systemic, not just in Indiana, but all over the world.

We Stand with Flint, We Stand with Standing Rock (See Statement) and We Stand with East Chicago.

Members of Climate Justice Alliance

When Fighting The Bad (Our Context History):  A lot of folks wonder about Indiana, and whether folks of African Descent even exist, let alone our struggle. What could possibly be our plight or oppression?

Our plight is living within a hyper conservative state with hyper conservative policies, with redistricting, so well designed that unless we move out into these rural areas, many times racist environments, making it difficult for us to make compromises within the State House or take over the State House with our agenda.

We are within a heat zone, we are an agricultural and manufacturing state, we are subjected to many tornados and floods.

However, we have high populations of folks of African Descent in Indianapolis, Gary, East Chicago, Michigan City, Fort Wayne, Hammond, and Terra Haute. There is a pattern of oppressive policies, these communities lack resources and investments, no greenways, no roundabouts, high levels of violence, high crime rates due to over policing policies, high unemployment, dismal public education and high poverty.

One of several boarded up and abandoned homes in East Chicago, Indiana

Practically all of these cities are hosting pollution within a 3-mile radius:

Indianapolis- hosting a power plant that just stopped burning coal, but now burning natural gas,

East Chicago– hosting BP Oil refinery, Amoco Oil refinery, and now learning that for over 40 years folks have been living and hosting lead and arsenic contaminated land

Michigan City & Terra Haute- hosting a Coal-fired power plant(s)

Building the new/moving the money: We work within a frame that engages/educates our members and their respective communities regarding resiliency planning, concepts. We have hosted Just Energy: Reducing Pollution and Creating Jobs, Bridging the Gap: Connecting Black Communities to the Green Economy, ReClaiming Our Systems, and Environmental Genocide, Black Faith and Our Power.


We’ve fought against bad legislation like fixed rate charges on utility bills, fees on distributed generation (solar&wind). We’ve inserted our voices within the State House, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, and the Electric Utilities, Integrated Resource Planning meetings, where they are planning their energy and infrastructure needs for the next 20 years, and they will request rate increases to support their archaic business model. (a model that wants us to support their burning coal).

We’ve engaged and educated over 80 city officials across the state helping them to identify environmental justice projects that create resiliency. We’ve presented educational environmental climate justice toolkits to educators. We have Public utility toolkits and we have proposed Environmental Justice Commission bill for local and state and a community solar bill.

We’ve changed the story/rules by writing our own op-ed s, we’ve partnered with academia to have their law students, predominately of African descent, provide research and data that is Indiana specific that helps us to tell our story.   We’ve hosted private meetings with only the Indiana legislative Black Caucus and Town halls and we’ve placed ourselves within the State House with our narratives/testimony.

We’ve protested within the City County Council demanding that they amend a resolution that sought to retire a coal-fired power plant by 2020 when we were demanding 2016. (It stopped burning 2/2016). We had our own resolution with signatures from the Black Nurses, Concerned Clergy, NAACP etc.

The State House was driving an ALEC narrative that said folks of African descent believe it is unfair for privileged white folks to have access to solar, and send their solar energy over the grid for free. We proclaimed that this narrative is false. That we in fact believe solar is good for our communities, it can be urban, it can make our communities, healthy, we can become economically empowered with solar once we gain access as the emerging market, and we can obtain the job training for this new green economic model. (See Midwest Energy News)

Building a movement:  We’ve partnered with stellar grass-rooted organizations like Kheprw Institute a brilliant self reliant, cooperative, Just Transitioning model working on aquaponics, hydroponics, systems thinking/social enterprises, food cooperative and varying bootstrap initiatives, intergenerational and academia partners.
We have partnered with our branches to identify what type of environmental just projects that would like to see incorporated within their cities; what resiliency models they’d like to employ within their communities; Our branches have participated in many social media campaigns (Just Energy, Clean Power Plan and Peoples Climate March)

Reverend Phillip Karl James, Mount Zion Baptist Church (October 2015, People’s Climate Movement-Day of Action)


Indiana NAACP Environmental Climate Justice Chair, Denise Abdul-Rahman Speaks at Indiana Mama Summit April 8, 2015 at the Indiana State House

Indiana Green Outreach June 12, 2015

Good Morning and Thank you to Wendy, and all the Momma’s and Papa’s, Grand’s, and Children, Standing for clean air, healthy communities, standing for our children and environmental climate justice.

1‘Indiana is hooked on coal- and that addiction has remained constant for decades.  While many states and countries are moving toward cleaner energy sources, est. 85% of Indiana’s electricity comes from coal- fired power plants.’
2’Coal burning is- and has always been-deadly.  According to Journalist Jeff Goodell, quoted in the NAACP Coal Blooded Report, says coals effects on public health are now less apparent than they were.  50 years ago, in industrial states, people were still dropping dead in the streets on days air pollution was particularly bad.  In China and India they still are.  Now, in the US, in Indiana it happens in slow motion, and in ways that don’t translate easily to death Certificates.’
3According to our Harding Street Coal Plant Resolution formulated by the Indiana NAACP and the Black Nurses Association of Indianapolis, Inc.  Negative public health effects occurs in states with coal power plants including higher rates of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases and according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the top ten coal-energy producing states which includes the state of Indiana having an average 19% higher lung cancer death rate than the US average.  Prolonged exposures to toxins from these energy production facilities is tied to birth defects, heart disease, asthma attacks, lung disease, and learning difficulties, for example a black child is 3 times as likely to be admitted to the hospital and twice more likely to die from an asthma attack than a white child.  This is Our Quest for Environmental Justice—(Dr. Robert Bullards Book)
A recent scientific paper by Shane Evans, student of IU Robert McKinney School of Law, concluded that racial makeup, more specifically, the percent of people who identified as white alone, not Hispanic or Latino, is the most important demographic metric in determining the amount of pollution in 50 Hoosier cities and towns.
The Indiana NAACP Clean Power Plan Resolution calls for coal ash to be defined as “special waste” and calls for special disposal—-Drop the lawsuit against EPA Clean Power Plan.
The NAACP Resolution Promoting Equitable Access to Clean Energy calls for the United States and we are calling for the State of Indiana it’s Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to find ways to assure universal affordable access to a clean energy portfolio to prevent the recurrence of environmentally racist policies and practices that often contribute to disproportionately high rates of exposure to pollution from fossil fuel and nuclear based energy production and toxic wastes that have plagued African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and other communities of color and low income for decades.  
Stop Putting Profits Before The People

Indiana Green Outreach June 12, 2015