We explore racism inside governmental and nongovernmental institutions and how their policies affect minority communities. Co-host is Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, EPA whistleblower and director of the Government Transparency and Accountability in the Green Shadow Cabinet. Lawrence Lucas is President of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees and advocates on behalf of black farmers. Norris McDonald was the first black environmentalist and is president of the African American Environmentalist Association. Rue is an environmental activist who organizes with the community of Manchester in Houston, TX.
Relevant articles, books and websites:
Manchester, Texas: Tip of the Environmental Nightmare by Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
No FEAR: A Whistleblower’s Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA by Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
Diary of an Environmentalist by Norris McDonald
Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo received her BA degree from Barnard College/Columbia University and her doctorate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is the author of No FEAR: A Whistleblower’s Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) She is currently serving as the Chairperson of the No FEAR Institute and No FEAR Coalition.
Dr. Coleman-Adebayo was a Senior Policy Analyst in the Office of the Administrator at the US Environmental Protection Agency. She has held various academic positions as Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University – School of Foreign Studies, Visiting Scholar, George Mason University- Department of African-American Studies and Assistant Professor, The American University.
On August 18, 2000, Dr. Coleman-Adebayo won an historic lawsuit against the EPA on the basis of race, sex, color discrimination, and a hostile work environment. She subsequently testified before Congress on two occasions. As a result, the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act [No FEAR] was introduced by Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee ( D-TX) and Senator John Warner (R- VA). Along with the No FEAR Coalition, she ushered the No FEAR Bill through Congress. President George W. Bush signed the No FEAR Act into law. Thousands of federal workers and their families have directly benefited from this law.
Dr. Coleman-Adebayo is the founder of the No FEAR Institute (a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization). The No FEAR Institute is devoted to educating the American public about federal sector discrimination and the implementation of the No FEAR Act. The No FEAR Institute co-sponsored two symposiums on vanadium poisoning in South Africa and New York.
Good Housekeeping Magazine in 2003 selected her as their “Woman of the Year.” The National Whistleblower Center has characterized her as one of the most influential “truth-tellers” in the country. She was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) in June 2007. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) recognized Dr. Coleman-Adebayo’s leadership in the civil rights movement at its 50th anniversary gala in Atlanta, Ga. Time Magazine compared her to civil rights hero Rosa Parks and she is called the Mother of the first civil rights act of the 21st century.
Dr. Coleman-Adebayo’s troubles at EPA were most intense when she served as the liaison to the White House on the Gore-Mbeki Commission, a Clinton administration foreign policy program with South Africa. After she reported that an American company exposed its African miners and their families to vanadium dust, a deadly substance, she was relieved of her responsibilities on the Commission. Her efforts to conduct an investigation were stifled and she was made a target of personal abuse. Workers in vanadium mines develop life threatening diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis, liver and kidney disorders, and cancers. Their tongues turn green and black, and they bleed. Racial epithets were hurled at her by senior officials and she received threatening phone calls at home.
Despite government efforts to restrain her investigation, as a private citizen, she led an independent team of doctors to investigate the deaths in Brits. In May 2003, she led another team of students and faculty to South Africa from Barnard and Smith Colleges to investigate the crisis of vanadium workers. Coleman-Adebayo received an award for Outstanding Commitment to Global Health and Development from Harvard University.
She Chaired the Sustainable Development and Environment Expert Group for the National Summit on Africa and was the Executive Secretary for the US/South Africa Bi National Commission (Gore-Mbeki Commission). In addition to her work in South Africa, Dr.Coleman-Adebayo was selected as the chief environmental negotiator for the US Delegation to the UN Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China. She represented the EPA to UN technical agencies, such as UNDP, United Nations Industrial Organization and UNEP. She was awarded a Vice Presidential Award for her leadership in designing a cooperative relationship with the American Hospital Association to reduce mercury emissions from hospitals and clinics.
As a result of her academic and practical knowledge of how the US Congress functions, she was recruited by the United Nations Development Program’s United Nations Sudano Sahelian Office (UNSO). Dr. Coleman-Adebayo provided leadership for this office in the area of US Congressional relations, in which she was able to successfully achieve an earmark of funds as well as Congressional recognition of UNSO’s work. In addition, she managed a portfolio of over $20 million dollars, negotiated with donor countries and organizations to provide financial, personnel and material support to programs under her management. She directly managed three fuelwood projects, in war-time Ethiopia. She negotiated with rebel leaders to ensure the safety of her Ethiopian and international staff. She briefly volunteered in a refugee camp during a famine.
Dr. Coleman-Adebayo worked at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation as its Senior Research Analyst and Director of the CBCF Fellows Program. She provided research for Members of Congress in the areas of Africa/ Caribbean policies. She also directed the CBCF Fellows Program, A program created to increase the number of African Americans working as professional staff in the U.S. Congress.
Dr. Coleman-Adebayo has been featured in a host of newspapers, such as, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Government Executive and Federal Times. She is a wife and mother of two children.
Lawrence Lucas came to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1977 as a political appointee during President Jimmy Carter’s Administration; after spending five years in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as a photogrammetric instructor, representing the U.S, Agency for International Development and the Department of Defense. He holds the distinction of being the first African American Instructor at the Ethiopian Mapping and Geography Institute. A native Washingtonian, he earned both a Masters of Science Degree in Adult Education, (Administration) from the University of the District of Columbia, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
During his tenure at USDA, Lucas served as speech writer for former Secretary of Agriculture Bob Bergland and other members of the Subcabinet. He retired from USDA in 1996, after 37 years of service and became a staunch civil rights advocate. Lucas has served as president of The U.S. Department of Agriculture Coalition of Minority Employees (The Coalition) since 1994, transforming it into one of the most provocative, creative, and diverse civil rights employee organizations in the history of USDA. Lucas pioneered a communication program that has benefitted minority farmers and USDA employees and lectured at numerous prestigious institutions (i.e., Tuskegee University, Iowa State University, California Poly Technical University, Pomona, and others), regarding government accountability, civil and human rights, workforce diversity and recruitment and outreach to under served minority communities. His outspoken support of federal civil rights enforcement has captured the attention of the White House, Members of Congress, and the Media.
During the Clinton Administration Lucas partnered with other USDA employee and minority farm organizations to create one of the most powerful alliances ever established in USDA history (to date has not been replicated). Together with the National Black Farmer Association and other farm advocacy groups, Lucas negotiated with former Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman, for the establishment of the historical USDA Civil Rights Action Team, that found gross civil rights violations in USDA implementation of its programs to minority farmers, especially, Black farmers and discrimination against USDA employees.
Mr. Lucas has been invited to testify before the Congressional Black Caucus, the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committee (Senator Lugar Chair) as well as other key Committees. His most recent testimony presented to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, May 14, 2008, (Aldophus Towns, Chair) pushed for the passage of legislation that gave approximately 73,000 Black farmers an opportunity to collect damages resulting from the settlement of the Pigford vs. Glickman Class Action lawsuit.
Lucas, one of the many leaders advocating early complaint resolution and processing of minority farmers and USDA employee cases, is the recipient of numerous civil rights and workforce diversity awards. He has been critical of USDA leadership with respect to their turning a blind eye to the widespread discrimination, sexual abuse and attacks, reprisal and retaliation, hostile work environment and intimidation of USDA employees and minority farmers by USDA management officials. Over the past years, he has been crusading for improving civil rights administrative and program activities for all federal employees and customers and is a key partner of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Federal Sector Taskforce, Leroy Warren, Chair, Environmental Organizations and others. Lucas’ wide range of activities has resulted in increasing the Coalition’s visibility and credibility has put civil rights on the radar screen at the USDA, Congress and the Nation.
As a leader working in cooperation and partnership with the USDA Office of the Secretary, to resolve issues regarding civil rights, workforce diversity and outreach to employees and underserved communities, his resolve has never waivered. He has remained independent … never controlled by those with agendas counter to the purpose and mission of the Coalition. As a result of his dynamic leadership, “The Coalition” has gained national recognition. Its unique structure…multicultural, multiracial and multiethnic, has precipitated its being designated one of the Federal government’s premier civil rights organizations. Lucas has revitalized and mobilized the group…building it into the highly respected and effective organization it is today.
Advocates attribute Lucas’ tireless efforts to reinvent USDA’s discriminatory culture of abuse, retaliation, racism and sexism into one where employees and minority farmers are treated with dignity and respect to his “Tenacity” and “Solution-driven Actions.” Bringing viable solutions to the table have earned him the respect of civil rights leaders and federal managers and have saved millions of taxpayer dollars.
Norris McDonald is the founder and president of the Center for Environment, Commerce and Energy and its outreach arm, the African American Environmentalist Association. He has been a career environmentalist for 34 years. Formerly with the Environmental Policy Center (now Friends of the Earth), as Director of the Energy Conservation and Transportation Project, he is an energy and environmental specialist and has served as an advisor to industry and local neighborhood community groups. McDonald was president of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) from 1982 to 1984. He organized the first Energy Braintrust for the late Congressman Mickey Leland. He has authored and successfully worked for the passage of national energy legislation before the U.S. Congress. He has presented testimony before federal, state and local regulatory agencies, U.S. House and Senate Energy and Environmental Committees. He was a participant in the original meetings with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt environmental justice policies.
McDonald led the fight in Congress in the early 1980s to maintain Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) Standards. He presented testimony before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee at the confirmation hearing of John Herrington as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy in 1985. McDonald drafted and led the lobbying campaign in the U.S. Congress to pass the Federal Shared Energy Savings Act, signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. He served as a
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) instructor in 1997 for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School. He recently assisted in the passage of the first civil rights legislation of the 21st Century, the No Fear Act, signed by President Bush on May 15, 2002.
He was the author of the first comprehensive studies of pollution in Washington, D.C. He is a recognized national speaker on energy and environmental issues and has appeared in numerous print and electronic media. He has received special recognition from the U.S. Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior. He has served on several federal, state and local environmental advisory committees. He served as a consultant for the East Bay Conversion and Reinvestment Commission, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Pilot Project Report for the Alameda Naval Air Station, Oakland, CA, 1996. McDonald was the first environmentalist in the U.S. to publicly support nuclear power and the Center was the first environmental organization to publicly support nuclear power. The Center remains the only environmental group that supports nuclear power. The Center was the only environmental group in the U.S. to support the National Harbor Project and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge replacement.
Norris McDonald, a 1977 graduate of Wake Forest University, is a divorced, single parent raising a 20 year old son and enjoys boating, golf, tennis, fishing, skiing, swimming, chess, helicopters, guitar and website design.
Rue hails from the finger lakes region of New York in occupied Haudenosaunee (Hoh-den-o-show-knee) territories Rue is an organizer with both Earth First! & Shaleshock, board member at the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, and a spokesperson for the Tar Sands Blockade- a full time direct action campaign to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Rue is dedicated solidarity organizer with the community of Manchester in Houston’s toxic East End, a writer, independent film maker and co-founder of the Wildseed Collective.