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Environmental Justice: What’s Race Got to Do With It?

October 19, 2016 @ 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm


The Columbia Journal of Race and Law (“CJRL”) was founded in 2010 with the purpose of deepening the legal community’s discourse on historic and contemporary notions of socio-political and legal challenges facing racial and ethnic minorities. Each year, we host a symposium to bring together experts to shed greater light on legal issues that impact communities of color. Past symposia have covered topics related to immigration, the legacy of the Civil Rights Act, and cutting-edge thinking about fair housing barriers to the creation of affordable housing.

The Columbia Journal of Environmental Law (“CJEL”) was founded in 1972 with a grant from the Ford Foundation. The Journal is one of the oldest environmental law journals in the nation and is widely regarded as one of the preeminent environmental journals in the country.

This year, CJRL and our colleagues in CJEL are collaborating to present a symposium on environmental justice. The symposium, which will be held on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at 6:30PM at 435 West 116th Street, New York, New York 10027 (Columbia Law School) in room 103. The symposium is titled “Environmental Justice: What’s Race Got to Do With It?”.

Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law, Columbia Law School and Director, Center for the Study of Law and Culture, will give opening remarks.

The first panel of the symposium, “Planting the Roots of (In)Justice: Past Practices and Laws,” will focus on an array of past policies including the use of lead paint in public housing buildings, placement of landfills and certain industries near communities of color, and lack of access to recycling in certain neighborhoods. This panel will be moderated by Michael Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia Law School; Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

  • The panelists are:
    • Christine Appah-Gyamfi — Senior Staff Attorney, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest;
    • Susan Kraham — Senior Staff Attorney and Lecturer-in-Law, Columbia Law School;
    • Peggy Shepard — Executive Director and Co-Founder, WE ACT for Environmental Justice; and
    • Kellie Terry — Program Officer for Sustainable Environments, Surdna Foundation.

Wade in the Water: From Flint to NYCHA,” the second panel of the symposium, will focus on the current water crisis occurring in communities of color across the United States, including a discussion around the lead-filled water in the City of Flint and how the Dakota Pipeline may affect clean water access for American Indians. This panel will be moderated by Olatunde Johnson, Jerome B. Sherman Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Intellectual Life, Columbia Law School.

  • The panelists are:
    • Christine Ernst — Associate Attorney, Earthjustice;
    • Edward Lloyd — Evan M. Frankel Clinical Professor in Environmental Law, Columbia Law School;
    • Al Huang — Director of Environmental Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council; and
    • Steven McSloy — Partner, Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP; Lecturer-in-Law, Columbia Law School

CJRL and CJEL hopes that this year’s symposium will spark discourse on a range of issues related to water accessibility and the disproportionate siting of environmental hazards in communities of color across the nation.

Please register here.


Columbia Journal of Race and Law; Columbia Journal of Environmental Law


Columbia Law School, Jerome Green Hall, Room 104
W 116th Street
New York, NY 10027 United States
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