March 7, 2022

Environmental justice touches all areas of our lives. While for many, this fight seems new and trendy. But others know that what we are experiencing in environmental inequities goes back generations. If you’re looking to learn the history of environmental justice and how it impacts us today, check out any (or all) of these books. 

The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection by Dorcetta Taylor

Why should you read it? Taylor “analyzes the roles of economics, business, political, intellectual, policy, legal, and religious elites in the rise of these ideologies [regarding environmental protection.”

As one editorial review states, this book is “[a]n important addition to the historiography of the American conservation movement. It’s a great look at how it started, who the players were, and what’s next.

The Wrong Complexion for Protection: How the Government Response to Disaster Endangers African American Communities by Robert D. Bullard and Beverly Wright

Why should you read it? In 2005, the majority of the country was shocked by the response from the U.S. government during Hurricane Katrina. However, collectively, African Americans were not surprised. In their book, Bullard and Wright provide historical context to the government’s handling of this disaster. 

“The brutal realities of institutional racism in disaster readiness, response, and recovery are unveiled here in black and white, through compelling case studies, jaw-dropping statistics, and thoroughly documented sociological and historical data.” — David Naguib Pellow, co-author of The Slums of Aspen: Immigrants vs. the Environment in America’s Eden

Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape by Lauret Savoy 

Why should you read it? “Trace trespasses in order to reckon with contested histories that touch us all, to show how ‘nature’ and ‘race’ have always been entangled, to reveal often-unacknowledged ties and counter damaging public silences.”

We placed this in history, but it is much more than that. 

Of course, there are many more books detailing the history of environmental justice. What are some you recommend? Share them on our Instagram page.