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Learning from Local Leaders

In May I had the privilege to go on the CNR Environmental Justice tour. We were able to visit towns and communities in eastern NC that have been disproportionately negatively affected by environmental issues. One of the largest ways that our group was impacted was through the time we spent with local leaders throughout the state.

Kemp Burdette

Kemp is the River Keeper for the Cape Fear River near Wilmington, NC. He works to protect the water quality of the river, and advocates for safe water practices. He taught us about hazards facing the cape fear, including nearby hog farms and Duke Energy plants. One of the recurring problems that he faces is the presence of coal ash in the surrounding area.

Deborah Maxwell

Deborah works with the New Hanover county NAACP as a local advocate. She sat down to dinner with us and explained to us the various roles she occupies. Deborah divides her time between the NAACP and full time social work. Our team was struck by her commitment to environmental justice and the way she sacrifices her time for the cause.

Mayor Eulis Willis

Mayor Willis, “Uncle Scrap” to his town, has lived in Navasa his entire life and is now giving back to the place he grew up. Navasa has been disproportionately affected by the negatives impacts of manufacturing on the environment, and has many superfund sites throughout the town. Mayor Willis has been advocating for his town to lawyers and the press, and has been able to bring attention to the injustice experienced in the area.

Louie Rivers

Dr. Rivers works in Forestry and Environmental Resources in CNR. He graciously taught us about The Hoffman Forest and gave us a tour, explaining to us the maintenance techniques and strategies. Our group was able to hear about his research, which focuses on the how minority communities interact with the environment.
These local leaders were great examples of commitment to environmental research and values. Our group of college students was consistently both encouraged and inspired by the stories of their careers, and we are incredibly thankful to them for the time they sacrificed to speak with us.  

New to Navassa – Read more about Carly’s tour and the impact it had on her