Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town

Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town

by Ellen Griffith Spears
     
 

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In the mid-1990s, residents of Anniston, Alabama, began a legal fight against the agrochemical company Monsanto over the dumping of PCBs in the city's historically African American and white working-class west side. Simultaneously, Anniston environmentalists sought to safely eliminate chemical weaponry that had been secretly stockpiled near the city during the Cold

Overview

In the mid-1990s, residents of Anniston, Alabama, began a legal fight against the agrochemical company Monsanto over the dumping of PCBs in the city's historically African American and white working-class west side. Simultaneously, Anniston environmentalists sought to safely eliminate chemical weaponry that had been secretly stockpiled near the city during the Cold War. In this probing work, Ellen Griffith Spears offers a compelling narrative of Anniston's battles for environmental justice, exposing how systemic racial and class inequalities reinforced during the Jim Crow era played out in these intense contemporary social movements.

Spears focuses attention on key figures who shaped Anniston--from Monsanto's founders, to white and African American activists, to the ordinary Anniston residents whose lives and health were deeply affected by the town's military-industrial history and the legacy of racism. Situating the personal struggles and triumphs of Anniston residents within a larger national story of regulatory regimes and legal strategies that have affected toxic towns across America, Spears unflinchingly explores the causes and implications of environmental inequalities, showing how civil rights movement activism undergirded Anniston's campaigns for redemption and justice.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Makes a powerful case for considering health and environmental activism as integral components of the long civil rights movement. . . . Scholars will be metabolizing Spears's observations for years to come.--The Journal of Southern History

Spears constructs a thoughtful and nuanced narrative that supports a call for reform in the manufacture, use, and regulation of the chemical industry and military-industrial complex.--H-Net Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781469611723
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
04/07/2014
Series:
New Directions in Southern Studies
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
464
File size:
8 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
An important study in the ongoing effort to document and understand the huge legacy of environmental racism in our past. Hopefully this story will help spur us to fight against the ongoing scourge of environmental injustice in frontline communities.--Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

Meet the Author

Ellen Griffith Spears is assistant professor in New College and the Department of American Studies at the University of Alabama.

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