Don Cheadle, who plays War Machine in Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame, is using his celebrity superpowers for good. He’s shining a spotlight on real-life heroes of the planet: this year’s winners of The Solutions Project’s ONE100 Awards. During the movie’s opening weekend, he made a surprise appearance at the ONE100 Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, and helped make sure it was an event to remember.
It was especially wonderful to see the young people of Youth for Environmental Justice react to Don’s surprise appearance. The dedicated students are fighting toxic pollution in their Southeast Los Angeles community. They sued the city for approving oil-drilling sites without even considering how their neighborhood would be affected. When an oil-industry trade group sued the youth group and its allies, they didn’t fold. They fought back, and a judge threw out the oil industry’s lawsuit. Their efforts won Youth EJ a ONE100 Award, and you could tell it meant a lot to these inspiring young people to be recognized as clean energy superheroes.
Young people also played a key role in ONE100 Award-winner Deborah Bell-Holt’s efforts to end urban oil drilling. She found the fact that there was an oil refinery right across the street from her son’s elementary school to be unacceptable. Since then, she has worked with the community organization Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE) to unite neighborhoods looking to evict dirty oil facilities and protect people living in South Los Angeles. She also founded Love and Respect Youth Foundation, an organization helping children and families.
Another SCOPE volunteer working in South Los Angeles, Ruth Andrade, won a ONE100 Award for working to shut down an oil drilling site in her neighborhood. She got involved after noticing that several families in the community were suffering from mysterious health conditions. Her goal is to evict the drilling facility and turn the site into clean, healthy green space.
Our ONE100 Award-winners are showing that the communities most burdened by pollution — disproportionately low-income neighborhoods and communities of color — are no longer willing to accept business as usual and that they have the solutions. And they know that every American deserves a clean, healthy environment and that 100% clean energy is not only possible; it’s already happening. They understand that moving to 100% clean energy means a healthier future for their communities, and a healthier planet for everyone.