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Nature's Writers Trail: Bullard

Library Guide for the Nature Writer's Trail.

Robert Bullard
December 21, 1946 - 

Robert D. Bullard is the former Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University 2011-2016, he is currently Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy. He has been described as the father of environmental justice. He received his Ph.D. degree from Iowa State University. He is the author of seventeen books that address sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, industrial facility siting, community reinvestment, housing, transportation, climate justice, emergency response, smart growth, and regional equity. In 2014, the Sierra Club named its new Environmental Justice Award after Dr. Bullard. And in 2015, the Iowa State University Alumni Association named him its Alumni Merit Award recipient—an award also given to George Washington Carver (1894 ISU alum) in 1937.

  • "There is a difference between a job and the promise of jobs, there is a difference between economic development and the promise of economic development."

  • "At the heart of the problem is the fact that the United States is a racially divided nation where extreme racial inequalities continue to persist."

  • "The environment justice movement, the civil rights movement, peace and justice, women's movement and right now the climate movement.  You look at young people …they are owning these issues and they’re saying no, we don’t have to wait until we can vote to be mindful of the fact that we are destroying this earth and we are on the wrong direction, and we have to do something about climate crisis."

  • Growing up in Alabama during the 1950s, Bullard experienced the effects of a segregated community.
  • In 1978, Bullard was asked by Linda (his wife) to collect data for a lawsuit, Bean v. Southwestern Waste Corporation she had filed in federal court involving the placement of garbage facilities in mostly black Houston neighborhoods.
    • This was the first lawsuit that charged environmental discrimination using federal civil rights laws.
  • Bullard helped to organize the 1991 National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, the first meeting of its kind where various minority groups could discuss the problems associated with environmental justice.
  • He was instrumental in President Clinton’s signing of Executive Order 12898, the first legal document that defined the need for environmental justice in the United States.

  • The Wrong Complexion for Protection: How the Government Response to Disaster Endangers African American Communities. (2012)

  • Environmental Health and Racial Equity in the United States: Building Environmentally Just, Sustainable, and Livable Communities. (2011)

  • Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality. (2000)

  • Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices From the Grassroots. (1993)


  • American Sociological Association's William Foote Whyte Distinguished Career Award in 2007.
  • He was also named one of Newsweek’s Thirteen “Environmental Leaders of the Century,” in 2008.
  • United Nations Environment Program (UNEP),  Champions of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Award (2020)
  • Children’s Environmental Health Network, Child Health Advocate Award (2017)
  • Sierra Club, John Muir Award (2013)
  • Planet Harmony, Ten African American Green Heroes (2010)
  • National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Conservation Achievement Award in Science for “Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality” (1990)

The Wrong Complexion for Protection (Interlibrary Loan)

In The Wrong Complexion for Protection, Robert D. Bullard and Beverly Wright place the government response to natural and human-induced disasters in historical context over the past eight decades. They compare and contrast how the government responded to emergencies, including environmental and public health emergencies, toxic contamination, industrial accidents, bioterrorism threats and show that African Americans are disproportionately affected. Bullard and Wright argue that uncovering and eliminating disparate disaster response can mean the difference between life and death for those most vulnerable in disastrous times.

Race, Place, and Environmental Justice After Hurricane Katrina: Struggles to Reclaim, Rebuild, and Revitalize New Orleans and the Gulf Coast (Interlibrary Loan)

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall near New Orleans leaving death and destruction across the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama Gulf Coast counties. The lethargic and inept emergency response that followed exposed institutional flaws, poor planning, and false assumptions that are built into the emergency response and homeland security plans and programs. Racial disparities exist in disaster response, cleanup, rebuilding, reconstruction, and recovery. Race plays out in natural disaster survivors' ability to rebuild, replace infrastructure, obtain loans, and locate temporary and permanent housing.

Dumping In Dixie: Race, Class, And Environmental Quality, Third Edition (Interlibrary Loan)

This book provides the major economic, social, and psychological impacts associated with the siting of noxious facilities and their significance in mobilizing the African American community. It explores the barriers to environmental and social justice experienced by African Americans.

Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World (Urban and Industrial Environments) (Interlibrary Loan)

Environmental activists and academics alike are realizing that a sustainable society must be a just one. Environmental degradation is almost always linked to questions of human equality and quality of life. Throughout the world, those segments of the population that have the least political power and are the most marginalized are selectively victimized by environmental crises. Just Sustainabilities argues that social and environmental justice within and between nations should be an integral part of the policies and agreements that promote sustainable development. The book addresses many aspects of the links between environmental quality and human equality and between sustainability and environmental justice more generally.

Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color (Interlibrary Loan)

A study of environmental racism discusses the issue of racial discrimination in environmental policymaking and the unequal enforcement of environmental protection regulations, describing the unfair treatment of communities of color and what can be done about it.

This week, we're bringing you an episode from another podcast we think you might enjoy, Broken Ground from the Southern Environmental Law Center. Dr. Robert Bullard, the father of environmental justice, talks with Broken Ground host Claudine Ebeid McElwain about how communities of color are disproportionally impacted by climate change, pollution, and environmental destruction.

In this episode, Robert Bullard, Ph.D., often referred to as the father of environmental justice, shares his knowledge and insights from more than 40 years as a leading voice in the field. He also talks about the future of the environmental justice movement.

Dr. Robert Bullard, Distinguished Professor at Texas Southern University and a transformational figure in the environmental justice movement, says the environment is not just out in the woods and wilderness; it’s everywhere. “It's where we live, work, play, worship, learn, as well as the physical and natural world,” he says.

Robert’s devoted much of his life to documenting how environmental racism puts Black people and other people of color at higher risk from polluted air and water, natural disasters, and other natural threats. In this episode of Threshold Conversations, Amy and Robert talk about the origins of his pioneering research, the battle to get environmental justice on the agendas of large, white-dominated environmental groups, and what gives him hope.