Why the Voting Rights Act and Freedom Summer matter in the climate justice struggle

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SOURCE: Grist.com
AUTHOR: Brentin Mock
PHOTO: SEIU / David Sachs

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Today marks one year since the U.S. Supreme Court effectively gutted the historic Voting Rights Act of one of its signature civil rights protections. The reverb from the Shelby County v. Holder decision was felt so widely that it brought environmentalists, labor groups, and LGBTQ advocates together under a pledge to help civil rights groups on the voting rights front. And it activated the Democracy Initiative, a progressive coalition formed by the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and the NAACP to fight for elections reform.

What does the Voting Rights Act have to do with climate and environment? Well, the main way for us to ensure that our governments protect us against environmental and climate catastrophe is to vote people into office who have our best environmental interests in mind. This is true from local government, where officials decide on land-use codes and waste-disposal practices, on up to the federal government, where national climate policies are made. The environmental movement needs as many voters as possible to hold governments and companies accountable for taming their pollution. It can’t do that if voters of color are vulnerable to discrimination.

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