On Tuesday, May 17, Executive Director Karenna Gore participated at “Black Interfaith in the Time of Climate Crisis” at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The event addressed “the crucial role of Black faith leaders and spiritual traditions in the environmental justice movement and the unique challenges climate change poses to Black communities.”
According to the Religious News Service, “about 100 representatives of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Native American traditions” participated in at the forum, co-sponsored by Interfaith America with the Center for Earth Ethics.
The Rev. Fred Davie, senior adviser for racial equity at Interfaith America and senior strategic advisor to the president at Union Theological Seminary, introduced the event, noting Interfaith America’s work to “center and understand Black interfaith cooperation as a phenomenon to itself.”
Former Vice President Al Gore, a keynote speaker, noted that “the climate crisis at its core is a spiritual crisis.” He noted that climate change and pollution “disproportionately affect the marginalized and those discriminated against.” “So much of the struggle for environmental justice is rooted in economic injustice,” said Mr. Gore. “Our duty as people of faith is to seek out these injustices and point them out.”
Ibrahim Abdul-Martin, co-founder of Green Squash Consulting and a Black Interfaith fellow at Interfaith America, offered “a message from the ancient future.” Abdul-Martin, who also is a member of CEE’s Advisory Board, reminded listeners that they had to “acknowledge the oneness of God and His creation.”
CEE Executive Director Karenna Gore participated in a panel with Abdul-Martin, William J. Barber III, director of climate and environmental justice at The Climate Reality Project, Crystal Cavalier, co-founder of Seven Directions of Service, and Pamelo Ayo Yetunde, co-founder of Center of the Heart. Alexis Vaughan, director of racial equity initiatives at Interfaith America, moderated.
Barber, who also is a fellow at CEE, noted the depth of Black faith communities in the environmental justice movement. “Faith communities have always been bastions of political activism,” he said.
Ms. Gore noted the “power of faith” within African American culture and history. “We can’t just act at the level of effect; we need to be at the level of cause,” she said. “Faith communities work at the level of cause.”
“Being in this movement makes me feel some hope,” she said.
In closing, Mr. Gore exhorted the audience to remain engaged. “How can we glorify the Creator while participating in the destruction of the glorious Earth?,” he asked. “We know how to solve the climate crisis,” Mr. Gore said, “but we need the political will.”
Religious News Service. “Gore says climate crisis like ‘nature hike right through the Book of Revelation.’”
Interfaith America. “Why Black Faith Leaders Are Crucial in the Fight for Environmental Justice.”
NB. This post has been updated to include a link to YouTube.