Tavis Smiley moderated the summit. (Rodd A. Amos/L.A. Sentinel)

The June 18 summit occurred at the California Science Center in Exposition Park and simulcast live on C-Span and KBLA.   

  “The purpose of this townhall is to raise the civic IQ of Black people, poor people, and communities of color concerning climate health, to ensure persons that are impacted by climate change get the right resources they need, and to ensure that these climate justice crusaders of color get a platform to continue their work,” stated KBLA Talk 1580 Chief Visionary Officer Tavis Smiley, who moderated the summit.  

Several community members served on the panel. (Rodd A. Amos/L.A. Sentinel)

“Climate justice is the preeminent issue of the day, and yet those persons who are the most often victimized by these climate maladies, those who suffer from these climate catastrophes have been left out of the conversation. These are silent killers, but we ought not to be silent in the conversation about these issues in this vitally important election season,” he said.  

To discuss the intersection of climate change and racial justice, climate impacts on low income and communities of color, the role of transportation, and the green energy transition, the panel featured Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins, Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous, Majora Carter, Mustafa Santiago Ali, Peggy Shepard, Jacqueline Patterson, Glory Dolphin Hammes, Leah Thomas, Denise Fairchild, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Shakari Byerly, and 2024 Presidential candidate Cornel West.  Mayor Karen Bass delivered the keynote address.   

“To my administration, climate change is very important,” she declared. “We’ve just established a climate cabinet to focus on implementation and actions that Los Angeles can do to have a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable city for all of our residents.  

“We must never allow people to think that Black folks are not concerned about climate change. We understand when our communities are at risk and when our health is at risk. We’re going to do whatever we can to make sure that we don’t continue to be the brunt. We’ll continue to make our voices heard, and when we fight for change in our community, everyone benefits,” she said.   

Similar comments were expressed by Dr. Robert Bullard, executive director of The Bullard Center for Environmental Justice at Texas Southern University, who is considered the “father of environmental justice.”  

“We have an opportunity today to deal with the number one threat to humanity—that’s climate impacts,” he said.  

“Thanks to the Biden-Harris administration, the Bullard Center now has $50 million as a grant-making program from the [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] to solarize [Historic Black Colleges and Universities] and green infrastructure at our community centers and schools.  

“We have to go for those dollars and not leave one penny on the table, because we don’t know when these resources will be available again. We have to get this money into the community. Not allow money to follow money, money to follow power, and money to follow Whites, as it has in the past. It’s money to follow needs, and that’s where we are today in our climate justice movement,” said Bullard.  

The summit was powered by public and private partners LADWP, Metro, South Coast AQMD, Caltrans, the Sierra Club, Southern California MWD, Port of Los Angeles, California Wellness Foundation, The California Endowment, California Community Foundation, and Los Angeles Councilmember Curren D. Price, Jr.   

KBLA Talk 1580 is the only Black-owned and operated talk radio station west of the Mississippi.  


For more information, visit https://kbla1580.com/