by Barry Hermanson
On Nov. 14, the Sierra Club announced Ben Jealous as their new executive director. “Ben’s leadership and experience will help us leverage our long history of mobilizing grassroots power and reflect on the ways we have failed to recognize people of color and caused harm to communities that we aimed to protect.
“At the same time, he can point us to a future where we recognize the disproportionate impact of climate change and environmental decay, based on race, gender, class and other identities and that it will truly take all of us to preserve a livable planet and create a transition from an exploitative economy to one that works for everyone,” said interim-Executive Director Loren Blackford, a long-time Sierra Club volunteer, former board member and former Sierra Club President.
“In a career that has spanned from organizer to social impact investor in green technology, Jealous has been president of People for the American Way since 2020 and was the youngest person to serve as president and CEO of the NAACP from 2008 to 2013.
“The NAACP launched its climate justice program under Jealous’ leadership and in 2012 issued its report Coal Blooded: Putting Profits before People, which assessed the impact of the nation’s 378 coal-fired power plants on communities of color and low-income communities. It was an extension of work Jealous began as an investigative reporter for the Jackson Advocate exposing ‘cancer clusters’ in Mississippi’s rural communities caused by industrial pollution.”
Mr. Jealous will begin work on Jan. 23. He will spend 30 days talking to Sierra Club volunteers and chapters, staff, donors and partners, and will share his observations from that listening tour with the board at its February meeting.
I’m not sure the Sierra Club has many, if any, members in zip code 94124, Bayview Hunters Point. The Bay View Newspaper office is in 94124. 94124 is also home to a federal Superfund site.
Mr. Jealous: Although you may not find many Sierra Club members to visit in 94124, I hope you stop by to visit Willie and Mary Ratcliff at the Bay View Newspaper office. Mary told me you visited them when you were a reporter for the Jackson Advocate.
The Sierra Club claims it has made a historic selection. Will the Sierra Club finally join with the Bayview Hunters Point community in demanding a full cleanup of the Hunters Point Shipyard?
Barry Hermanson is a member of the San Francisco Green Party and a former small business owner. Contact him at Barry@Hermansons.com or 415-255-9494.