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No Fear: A Whistleblower's Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA

Overview

As a young, black, MIT-educated social scientist, Marsha Coleman-Adebayo landed her dream job at the EPA, working with Al Gore’s special commission to assist postapartheid South Africa. But when she tried to get the government to investigate allegations that a multinational corporation was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of South Africans mining vanadium—a vital strategic mineral—the agency stonewalled. Coleman-Adebayo blew the whistle.

How could she know that the liberal...

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Overview

As a young, black, MIT-educated social scientist, Marsha Coleman-Adebayo landed her dream job at the EPA, working with Al Gore’s special commission to assist postapartheid South Africa. But when she tried to get the government to investigate allegations that a multinational corporation was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of South Africans mining vanadium—a vital strategic mineral—the agency stonewalled. Coleman-Adebayo blew the whistle.

How could she know that the liberal agency would use every racist and sexist trick in their playbook in retaliation? The EPA endangered her family and sacrificed more lives in the vanadium mines of South Africa—but her fight against this injustice also brought about an upwelling of support from others in the federal bureaucracy who were fed up with its crushing repression.

Upon prevailing in court, Coleman-Adebayo organized a grassroots struggle to bring protection to all federal employees facing discrimination and retribution from the government. The No FEAR Coalition that she organized waged a two-year-long battle with Congress over the need to protect whistleblowers—culminating in the passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century. This book is her harrowing and inspiring story.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this sprawling memoir–cum–political exposé, Coleman-Adebayo, a former senior policy analyst at the EPA, describes her ascendance to the top ranks of the federal agency, and the hostility and harassment that compelled her to speak out against the unfair treatment she received. After spearheading the EPA's involvement in the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing, Coleman-Adebayo was selected to run the Gore-Mbeki Commission, a high-profile assignment that aimed to improve the living and working conditions of South Africans in the postapartheid era. The American experts and South African leaders quickly discovered extensive exploitation of South African vanadium mine workers, many of whom were suffering from exposure to the radioactive substance. But when African-American scholar Coleman-Adebayo tried to take action, her efforts were stymied from within the EPA. Eventually, Coleman-Adebayo was removed from her post despite her outstanding record. Alleging the firing was retribution for her complaints, Coleman-Adebayo fought the agency in court, winning her case and spurring the creation of the No FEAR Act, which now protects whistle-blowers within the federal government. The story weaves personal reflection, policy discussions, court transcripts, and legislative maneuverings, making for an engaging if occasionally dry narrative of a public servant's rise and fall and eventual triumph. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews

Coleman-Adebayo's memoir recounts the legal battle culminating in the 2002 No FEAR Act, "the first civil-rights and whistleblower act of the 21st century."

Steeped in the history of the civil-rights and women's movements and blessed with a keen intellect, the author earned degrees from Barnard College, Columbia University and MIT. In 1990, she was on track toward a promising career with the EPA, considered one of the most progressive federal agencies. However, Coleman-Adebayo soon sensed that all was not well. Pay discrepancies ran along racial and gender lines, and white men dominated the ranks of the executives. During a trip to South Africa as a member of the Gore-Mbeki Commission, the author witnessed the "systematic, verifiable, environmentally devastating" effects of vanadium mining, a metal considered strategic by the CIA. She was quickly stymied by her superiors in herefforts at solving the South African environmental issues. Once she reported her belief that "the EPA [was] covering up crimes...being committed by an American multinational corporation against the people of South Africa," to theWashingtonPost,she became a whistleblower. Workplace retaliation was swift, resulting in her filing a complaint against the EPA. Weaving together her personal records with the transcript of the federal civil trial, in which she prevailed, the author provides an insider view of the legal tactics used at the highest level of government. Coleman-Adebayo also recounts the shenanigans surrounding the subsequent hearings and the strenuous political process involved in the unanimous passage in both houses of Congress of the No FEAR Act.

Though the narrative bogs down in a large cast of characters, this is an inspiring and worthwhile trek through one woman's brave battle against a system favoring the powerful.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556528187
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2011
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 1,015,378
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the founder and president of the No Fear Institute. She served as the executive secretary of the EPA’s Environment Working Group, working with their delegation to the Gore/Mbeki Binational Commission during the Clinton administration. Her victory in the Title VII complaint of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in Coleman-Adebayo vs. Carol Browner inspired the passage of the No Fear Act of 2002.

Noam Chomsky is a world-renowned linguist and social critic considered by many to be the world’s foremost intellectual. He is the author of 120 books.

Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy is a former liaison to Congress and three former presidents for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He organized the “I Have a Dream” speech on the National Mall in 1963, was a cofounder of the Congressional Black Caucus, and was the District of Columbia's sole congressman in the House of Representatives for 20 years.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    Cat to smoke

    Nicki said for me to tell you that she wants you to go to her teen dream

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  • Posted October 7, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    I just a wonderful book. It is informative, interesting and an easy to read book. It is interesting to learn about the inner working of the EPA, our relations and how we deal w/ countries around the world and how speaking out can bring about change. Applause to Mrs. Coleman-Adebayo for doing a great service to her country and writing a great and easy to read book.

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  • Posted October 6, 2011

    Wow!!

    What an unexpected surprise. Marsha is bold and very candid about her experience at the EPA and dealings with the Federal Government. Many parts of the book read like a soap opera. I felt there were some unsavory things going on in the government, but Mrs. Adebayo pulls back the covers and puts all speculation to rest by naming specific players all the way up the food chain. Definitely an insightful, juicy and entertaining read!!

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