NC EJ Summit 2017: Building People’s Power Against State Violence Through the Lens of Environmental Justice

NC EJ Summit 2017: Building People’s Power Against State Violence Through the Lens of Environmental Justice

Location: The Franklinton Center at Bricks (Whitakers, NC)

Date: October 20-21, 2017


Dear NC EJ Network Family,

Happy Summer! We hope this message finds you well, and keeping cool. We’re so excited to announce that registration is now open for our 19th Annual NC Environmental Justice Summit! As you know, our theme this year is Building People’s Power Against State Violence. This means we’ll be connecting some other social justice challenges, such as the school to prison pipeline to the new and ongoing environmental justice issues impacting our communities in North Carolina and our broader region.

If you are interested in proposing a session for the EJ Summit, please contact our Summit coordinators at by July 10th!

To register for the Summit, please visit our EJ Summit registration page (found under the menu tab marked for the EJ Summit). In the past few years, our Summit has been at capacity, so please register soon and arrange your lodging! Housing at the conference site Franklinton Center at Bricks is reserved first for our scholarship participants, but if you would like to stay there, please be sure to put yourself on the waiting list when you register. Otherwise, we have reserved limited rooms under NCEJN at the Country Inn & Suites in Rocky Mount:
Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Rocky Mount, NC
672 English Road, Rocky Mount, North Carolina, 27804, US
p: +1 (252) 442-0500  f: +1 (252) 442-0964

Finally, to ensure that as many members from our impacted communities can attend as possible, we ask that if you are able, to please make a donation to our scholarship fund! We exceeded our goal last year, and we’d like to bring even more impacted community members to join than last year. Can you help us reach our goal of $5000 by September 30th?

Please visit our website to send your sponsorship via Paypal (with the memo line: EJ Summit) or mail to NC EJ Network P.O. Box 68 Rocky Mount, North Carolina 27802. Your contribution is tax deductible, and we will acknowledge your sponsorship in our printed program for the NCEJN 2017 Summit.

Thanks for your continued support and look forward to seeing you soon!

All the best,

NCEJN Board and Staff

Naeema Muhammad    Ayo Wilson         Chandra Taylor      
Danielle Spurlock      Courtney Woods    Danielle Purifoy 
Peter Gilbert             Don Cavellini          Ellis Tatum
Elsie Herring         Nicholas Woodard

Register Now: 18th Annual EJ Summit on October 21-22, 2016

Please join us for NCEJN’s 18th Annual EJ Summit on October 21-22, 2016 in Whitakers, NC!

You can find more information about the agenda and how to register under the EJ Summit tab on our website.

We are accepting award nominations for the following awards until Oct. 14:

  1. Steve Wing International Environmental Justice Award – Award for a person who has used their scholarship and activism to fight for environmental justice.
  2. NCEJN Community Resilience Award – Award for a community member who constantly uses activism and organizing in their community to achieve environmental justice.
  3. EJ Youth Vanguard Award – Award for two youth (one of elementary school age and one of middle/high school age) that have shown dedication to environmental justice and have the potential to be EJ leaders in the future.

Submit all nominations to:
NCEJN EJ Summit Coordinators
Email (preferred):
Mail: P.O. Box 68, Rocky Mount, NC 27802

Please circulate this message in your community networks!


If you want to learn more about what happens at the EJ Summits, check out the History of EJ Summit tab.

At this year’s Summit, we are planning to create a timeline (as a group) that documents the history and stories of the Environmental Justice Movement in North Carolina. To do this, we need your help! Please bring any memories that you have to help tell this story. For example, you could bring pictures, newspaper articles, old t-shirts, etc. We will paste all of these items in sequential order onto pieces of paper on the walls at the Franklinton Center. Looking back will help us move forward. Knowing where we’ve been will guide our path into the future. Bring any materials that you’d like to contribute to the timeline project.

Please email with any questions.

In Conditions of Fresh Water

In Conditions of Fresh Water is a multimedia history project that aims to collect the oral histories of historic black towns and communities in North Carolina and Alabama, specifically the communities of Buckhorn, Perry Hill, White Level, West End (Alamance County), and the town of White Hall, AL (Lowndes County).  The project has four goals:

  1. To record the histories of communities in Alamance and Lowndes Counties through interviews, visual data collection and neighborhood visits.
  2. To understand current environmental conditions in the communities through their histories.
  3. To imagine the future of these communities, using the lessons of history, and the desires of community members.
  4. To create new space, both physical and virtual, for communities to connect to one another.
Visual artist Torkwase Dyson will partner with Danielle Purifoy, a lawyer and Duke University Nicholas School Ph.D candidate studying racialized spaces and environmental inequality in the American South. Dyson and Purifoy will be joined by two community-based collaborators: Omega Wilson, a native of Alamance County, North Carolina and founder of the West End Revitalization Association, and Catherine Flowers, a native of Lowndes County, Alabama, and founder of the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise.

Sign the Petition: Stop the hog industry from spraying pig waste on our homes

Please consider signing Elsie Herring’s Petition: Stop the hog industry from spraying pig waste on our homes


Excerpt of Petition: “The hog operation next door makes my life miserable. The pork industry down here in North Carolina places profits over my civil rights. I have no choice but to live with spray manure blowing onto my property. There’s an increase in snakes, rats, flies, and mosquitoes. There’s a horrific odor seeping into my house even when the windows are shut as the Health Department has advised.

Please sign my petition telling the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Rights to help stop the civil rights violations here in North Carolina and protect families like mine from exposure to hog waste.

The powerful hog industry should not get away with this poor treatment of people of color and the environment just as those who brushed aside concerns of those in Flint, Michigan should be held accountable for their shameful discrimination and the health and environmental impact that caused…”

(Please click on link above to read and sign the petition.)

Congrats to WERA!

Congratulations to our partner, West End Revitalization Association(WERA), for being recognized with the 2016 Community Award from the NAACP Alamance County Branch’s Annual Freedom Fund Banquet & Silent Auction!

Check out the video on our Facebook group!

Title VI Update: DEQ In Bed With Big Pig

(You may also download a PDF of our press release by clicking here.)

DEQ In Bed With Big Pig
Groups Call on EPA to Move Forward with Investigation and Enforce Civil Rights Act

RALEIGH, N.C. – Community and environmental groups renewed their call today for the federal government to investigate claims that the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) decision to permit thousands of swine facilities without adequate safeguards violated federal law. These calls came after settlement negotiations in their discrimination case broke down on Monday. The community-based and statewide groups say that it became clear to them that the state environmental regulatory agency was not willing to protect vulnerable communities. The negotiations stem from a complaint filed in September 2014 alleging that DEQ’s lax regulation of over 2,000 hog operations has an unjustifiable disproportionate impact on African American, Latino, and Native American communities in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act requires that any recipient of federal funds take steps to ensure that its actions do not have a disproportionate adverse impact on individuals and communities based on race. An analysis conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina showed that the impacts from hog operations under permit conditions set by DEQ, a recipient of federal funds, primarily impacts African American, Latino, and Native American populations. This research was provided to DEQ during the 2014 comment period on the state permit for swine operations, but DEQ rejected the findings without pointing to any contrary research or conducting any analysis of it’s own.

The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), Rural Empowerment Center for Community Help (REACH), and Waterkeeper Alliance, brought the complaint. They are represented by attorneys at Earthjustice and UNC Center for Civil Rights.

“We are forced to endure the smell, the flies, water and air pollution that impacts our health all because DEQ won’t regulate hog operations in a way that protects our rural communities,” said Devon Hall, Program Manager at REACH, which is located in Duplin County, home to the greatest concentration of swine facilities in the country.

Complainant groups agreed to enter into settlement negotiations with DEQ in an attempt to resolve the matter without the federal government’s intervention. Negotiations were almost derailed as soon as they started when representatives of the National and NC Pork Councils showed up uninvited at the UNC Center for Civil Rights offices, supported by DEQ, and demanding to intrude into discussions. Their presence was intimidating to the community members present, who have experienced retaliation from hog industry supporters for their stance against the industry’s harmful impacts.

Naeema Muhammad, Co-Director of NCEJN, stated: “DEQ has turned a deaf ear to our cries for help for years. The Pork Council’s presence at a mediation session – which was supposed to be known only to DEQ representatives, the complainants and the mediator – crystalizes our concerns about our voices ever being heard. It’s clear that that DEQ won’t do anything that helps North Carolinians without first consulting with trade groups like the Pork Council that represent the interests of foreign owned corporations like Smithfield Foods.”

“I’ve been a civil rights attorney for a long time, and I’ve never seen anything like this. Having the regulated industry barge in – despite our clear opposition but with DEQ’s support – insisting that they have a right to be at the table to resolve a race discrimination case against DEQ could not be more telling or offensive,” said Elizabeth Haddix, attorney at the UNC Center for Civil Rights. “The agency has clearly been captured by the industry. This is the opposite of how government is supposed to work.”

“It’s clear that DEQ’s priorities are bowing to the interests of the industry, which is minimal regulation to maximize profits at the expense of rural communities and people of color,” said Marianne Engleman Lado, attorney with Earthjustice. “It’s time now for EPA to move forward with its investigation. Communities have been crying out for attention for years and it’s high time that someone held DEQ accountable.”

“This is yet another example of DEQ cozy relationship with polluting corporations,” said Gray Jernigan, Raleigh-based Staff Attorney with Waterkeeper Alliance. “They call it ‘customer service,’ but it is a disservice to the citizens that they are entrusted to protect. We are confident that EPA will see the same.”

In a related action, EPA recently proposed new rules that change the way the agency handles complaints of civil rights violations. The proposed revision, however, actually weakens existing protections by removing deadlines for the agency to respond and investigate complaints, among other changes. EPA is accepting comment on the proposed rules until March 14, 2016, and the public is urged to tell EPA not to weaken civil rights protections.




About NCEJN The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network is a statewide, grassroots-led non-profit organization made up of community members and other organizations that work to fight environmental injustice. The EJ Network seeks to promote health and environmental equality for all people of North Carolina through organizing, advocacy, research, and education based on principles of economic equity and democracy for all people. The EJ Network supports the communities that are most impacted by environmental injustice and has worked for nearly two decades to change the fact that industrial swine facilities in North Carolina are allowed to pollute low-income communities and communities of color.

About REACH The Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help strives to improve the quality of life for families and people of color in rural eastern North Carolina. In particular, REACH addresses social, economic and environmental issues though its environmental awareness, sustainable agriculture, small business development, and homeownership programs.

About WATERKEEPER® Alliance Waterkeeper Alliance is a global movement uniting more than 270 Waterkeeper organizations around the world and focusing citizen advocacy in issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. Waterkeepers patrol and protect more than 2 million square miles of rivers, streams and coastlines in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. For more information please visit:

About Earthjustice Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy and to combat climate change. Because the earth needs a good lawyer.

About UNC Center for Civil Rights Since its founding by Julius L. Chambers (1936-2013) in 2001, the UNC Center for Civil Rights has strived to extend America’s promise of justice, prosperity and opportunity by elevating families and communities above the boundaries of race, class and place. Its mission is to use community-based impact advocacy and legal education and scholarship to advance strategies that secure social, economic and environmental justice for low wealth, minority families and neighborhoods.


NCEJN’s Position Statement on Climate Change

At this year’s 2015 EJ Summit, NCEJN held a Climate Justice Conversation with participants of the Summit to help NCEJN develop its position on climate change. This conversation contributed to NCEJN’s Position Statement on Climate Change.

To download and read our position, please go to our “Climate Change” page, which is found under the “Issues” heading or click here.


Save the Date: 17th Annual EJ Summit on October 16-17, 2015

Please join us for NCEJN’s 17th Annual EJ Summit on October 16-17, 2015 in Whitakers, NC!

You can find more information about the agenda and how to register under the EJ Summit tab on our website. Please email with any questions.

If you want to learn more about what happens at the EJ Summits, our EJ Summit Report from our 2014 EJ Summit has now been added on our website under the History of EJ Summit tab. Or download the report now: 2014 EJ Summit Report (pdf).

Healthcare & Environmental Justice: Moral Monday


Save the Date: 16th Annual EJ Summit on October 17-18

Please join us for NCEJN’s 16th Annual EJ Summit on October 17-18, 2014 in Whitakers, NC!

You can find more information about the agenda and how to register under the EJ Summit tab on our website. Please email with any questions.

NCEJ Summit 2014 Flyer

NCEJN Petitions U.S. EPA to Stop Environmental Injustice in NC

The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH), and Waterkeeper Alliance, with the support of Earthjustice, submitted “a complaint against the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for issuing a general permit that allows industrial swine facilities in North Carolina to operate with grossly inadequate and outdated systems of controlling animal waste and little provision for government oversight, which has an unjustified disproportionate impact on the basis of race and national origin against” communities of color in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) implementing regulations.

Read the full complaint here (pdf).

Read the press release here (link).