Educator and Activist: My Life and Times in the Quest for Environmental Justice (Hardcover)
Bunyan Bryant grew up in a poor neighborhood in Little Rock, Arkansas, where the streets were unpaved and where Blacks like him had to step aside when a white person walked by. By the time he was eight years old, his family had moved to Flint, Michigan, where the racism was less overt but the schooling was, if anything, a little worse for this bright but soon to be alienated Black youngster.
Bryant fled a soul-killing job at the local Buick plant by enrolling in college-despite his belief that a Black kid could never get a fair shake from a white teacher, let alone a white society still grappling with Jim Crow. College changed Bryant's life forever. He ended up earning two graduate degrees and helping to found one of today's most important social science disciplines-the field of environmental justice.
Educator and Activist is Bunyan Bryant's story-a vivid account of his journey as an educator and activist in the movements for civil rights, students' rights, women's rights, international peace, and a healthy environment for all.
As a young professor, Bryant was one of two faculty members chosen to launch the University of Michigan's pioneering Environmental Advocacy Program. Through U-M's Environmental Justice Initiative, of which he was the coordinator, and the Environment Justice Initiative, of which he was the director, Bryant and his students helped poor communities across America fight for clean air, clean water, and unpolluted land. He and his students used research to confront corporate and governmental policies that resulted in differential environmental impacts on communities of color and low income.
In 1990, Bryant and his colleagues organized the first Michigan Conference on Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards, and they formed what came to be known as the Michigan Coalition. Bryant went on to travel the world, studying and supporting battles for environmental and social justice. He pushed agencies like the EPA to take the problem of environmental equity seriously, and he mentored a generation of passionate young advocates that are carrying on his work today.
"Things have changed," Bunyan Bryant has said, "but for me, they haven't changed enough." Educator and Activist captures a life dedicating to making change happen-from college classrooms and legislative chambers to communities around America and the world.
"His many achievements inspire-many born out of his academic work at the University of Michigan-but this is so much more than an inventory of civil rights accomplishments. . . . Readers will be swept up in the intensity of this remarkable narrative. . . . A moving account of a lifelong fight to protect minorities from environmental injustice."-Publishers Weekly BookLife
"An astute, affecting remembrance of an eventful life and time."-Kirkus Reviews
"Bunyan Bryant was one of my early mentors. His work taught me that anecdotes alone are not science; that numbers and statistics contain power. And his work taught me that environmental work wasn't just about science, it was also about action."-From the Foreword by Mona Hanna-Attisha, C.C. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health at Michigan State University college of Human Medicine and author of What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope.
"Bunyan Bryant inspired his students to stand proudly and humbly in the struggle for justice. In his memoir, he tells a deeply personal story that weaves together the history of the civil rights and environmental movements-a history that he helped shape."-Michael Garfield, Executive Director, The Ecology Center