TSU professor considered the ‘father of environmental justice’

HOUSTON – On the campus of Texas Southern University, there is a professor who has worked to fight for change for several decades. He continues to make an impact on the world and community we live in.

KPRC 2′s Re’Chelle Turner spoke to Dr. Robert Bullard, who is known as the “father of environmental justice”.

Dr. Robert Bullard is a distinguished professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at TSU. His goal is to make sure everyone has the right to live, work and play in a clean environment.

“For the past four decades, I’ve been working on issues around race, environment, environmental justice and I work with communities on the ground fighting all kinds of environmental and health issues,” Dr. Bullard said.

His passion for environmental justice started back in 1978, after he found that the Black community was the dumping grounds for Houston.

“This is from the 30′s up into 1978, even though Blacks only made up 25% of the population, 82% of all the garbage dumped in Houston from that period of time was dumped into black neighborhoods, so that was the kicker,” he said.

Since then, he has written 18 books ranging from climate change to food security, housing and transportation, emergency response, disasters, and energy.

He is even worked with several scientists, researchers, and community folks to level the playing field to make sure all communities have equal protection.

“The environment touches everything where we live work and play, worship as well as the physical and natural world and all environments are not created equal. Unfortunately, if a community happens to be low income or a community of color it receives less protection,” Dr. Bullard said.

Dr. Bullard said the environmental justice movement also relates to the Black Lives Matter Movement and the death of Houston Native George Floyd.

“You wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning because of some explosion or you wake up because of the emissions from these industrial plants and people can’t breathe we have demonstrations and signs and protest marchers that really depict this at least 30 years ago,” he said.

Dr. Bullard said there is more work to be done and he is very optimistic that the Biden-Harris administration will work to fight for environmental justice.

He has advice for the next generation that is already fighting to make a difference.

“They need to step up, step out and assume the leadership,” he said.

Dr. Bullard said just this month, TSU received a $1.25 million grant from the Houston Endowment to start the Robert D. Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice.

To read more about Dr. Bullard, click here.