April 22, 2024

On Earth Day, Duckworth Discusses Environmental Justice Issues with Blacks in Green Leadership on Chicago’s South Side


[CHICAGO, IL] – On Earth Day, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)—co-founder and co-chair of the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucusmet with leadership from the Blacks in Green (BIG) organization on Chicago’s South Side to discuss the importance of advancing environmental justice, promoting health equity and building a greener, more sustainable economy for all Illinoisans. During her visit, Duckworth toured BIG’s signature Sustainable Square Mile, which is a forward-thinking concept in the West Woodlawn neighborhood devoted to increasing community wealth, wellbeing and economic resilience in the face of the climate crisis that BIG considers the gold standard for Black community development. Photos of the visit can be found on the Senator’s website.

“To truly achieve environmental justice for all, we must do everything we can to support communities of color and disadvantaged communities that have too often shouldered the brunt of our nation’s environmental disasters, generational pollution and the climate crisis,” said Duckworth. “This Earth Day, I had the pleasure of meeting with leaders of Blacks in Green on the South Side and see their Sustainable Square Mile in person. The Sustainable Square Mile is the kind of initiative we need more of to help ensure disadvantaged communities don’t just recover from environmental injustice but can also thrive economically for generations to come. After years of working to achieve cleaner air, safer drinking water and a better life for these communities, I look forward to continuing to work together with organizations like Blacks in Green to build on this progress and bring about a safer, greener tomorrow for all Illinoisans.”

On today’s tour, Duckworth—who led the charge in Washington to secure the church where Emmett Till’s pivotal open-casket wake was held as a national monument—also visited the childhood home of Emmett Till, which BIG is helping restore and convert into a museum that would help preserve and continue to tell Till’s critically important story as part of American history.

Duckworth is a fierce advocate for environmental justice communities. Today, along with her co-chairs and co-founders U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) urged the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations’ leadership to appropriate funding that fulfills the more than $10 billion requested for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in President Biden’s FY2025 Budget so the agency can continue to prioritize environmental justice by cleaning up legacy pollution, promoting justice and equity and fostering economic empowerment in low-income communities, communities of color and tribal communities throughout the country. This Earth Day also marked the fifth birthday of the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus, which Duckworth co-founded and co-chairs.

Last year, Duckworth re-introduced the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act—the most comprehensive environmental justice legislation in history—which would help achieve health equity and climate justice for all, particularly in underserved communities and communities of color that have long been disproportionately harmed by environmental injustices and toxic pollutants. In 2021, Duckworth’s bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA)—the most significant federal investment in our nation’s aging water infrastructure—was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and is helping support the replacement of lead service lines throughout Illinois and across the country. Duckworth also led a subcommittee field hearing in Chicago on the implementation of DWWIA and the importance of replacing lead service lines in an equitable and efficient manner.