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Civil Rights Leaders See Economic Boost in Environmental Movement

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Hilary Shelton, left, and Benjamin Jealous, middle, discuss the NAACP's Climate Justice Initiative.
Jessica Gould
Hilary Shelton, left, and Benjamin Jealous, middle, discuss the NAACP's Climate Justice Initiative.

"Poor people, black people are more likely to live on the flood plain, to live on the broken side of the levy," he says.

Or in our area, he says, breathe polluted air and suffer from extreme weather.

"It's high time for people of color to decide it’s not just what's happening in their backyard or next door. It's what’s happening in the country. It’s what’s happening in the planet," he says.

But Hilary Shelton, director of the organization's Washington bureau, says promoting sustainability doesn't just mean cutting back on emissions and trash. It means gaining employment through green jobs.

"There's an entire new economy that's being created by doing good by doing well. Meaning that we now have young people that are being trained in Washington, D.C. to put solar panels on houses. To provide the insulation and green roofs," he says.

Shelton says the NAACP has launched an initiative on climate change and is working hard to address issues of environmental justice.

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