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An Earth Day symposium will cover environmental disparities in Tampa Bay area

Downtown Tampa skyline reflected by Tampa Bay
City of Tampa
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A coalition of groups is hosting a symposium in Tampa Friday, April 22, geared towards addressing environmental justice issues and inequities within the community.

Participants will share stories on issues such as environmental justice and human rights, connections between environmental impacts and public health, and energy burdens.

Just in time for Earth Day Friday, a coalition of groups is hosting a symposium in Tampa geared toward addressing environmental justice issues and inequities within the community.

Participants will share stories on issues such as environmental justice and human rights, connections between environmental impacts and public health, and energy burdens.

"The People Power Environmental Justice & Energy Symposium” is sponsored by The Urban Progress Alliance, Blaq Earth, CHISPA, and the Sierra Club.

Event organizer and founder of Blaq Earth, Walter L. Smith II, said that this event is important to address environmental inadequacies that minorities face.

“The environmental justice and energy portion has to do with the issue of the historical impacts that are as a result of things that have happened to us, because of redlining, the injustice of the past, Jim Crow,” he said.

He added that the placement of industrial operations and factories that sometimes produce hazardous materials is an issue that many lower income individuals face, regardless of their race.

“We need to mobilize people who have no voice so that they can be that voice, be that tool, be that vessel, through which they can save themselves, as opposed to waiting for some government organization or something to come along and save them,” he said.

“We'll look at what is the current situation, what is taking place in these underserved frontline communities,” he said. “Why they are faced with these…issues, why (do) they exist, and where our polluted areas, or trouble areas within our communities, where are the things that need to be rectified? How can we do that?”

Participants will also be encouraged to work together to develop solutions for practices and policies by government, communities, and businesses that are not environmentally friendly.

Smith emphasized that anyone is welcome, because these are the kinds of conversations that need to take place now.

“We have got to do something different,” he said. “If we don't do it now, it's not going to be done. If it's not done, we're going to see some real destruction, the likes of which we've never seen before.”

The event will be held Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Reed at ENCORE senior apartment complex at 1240 Ray Charles Blvd. in Tampa.

Interested individuals or organizations can register here.

I am WUSF’s Rush Family Radio News Intern for spring 2022.