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Hazel and Goliath

johnsonExcerpt from Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call. Interview with Hazel Johnson (Born: January 25, 1935 Died: January 12, 2011). Photo of Ms. Johnson holding her Presidential Medal of Freedom.

It started with her husband. Hazel Johnson’s sweetheart of seventeen years died an early death from lung cancer. Within ten weeks of diagnosis he’d passed away. As Mrs. Johnson began to look for answers she discovered she wasn’t alone, a significant number of people in her Southeast Chicago neighborhood were and had been dying from the disease. A high percentage of infants were born with tumors and defects. It wasn’t genetics, it wasn’t lifestyle, it was the very air they were breathing, the water they drank and the homes in which they lived. The environment was silently altering the very bodies within which they lived.

After educating herself about pollution, toxins and contamination, she put her new found knowledge to work and started PFCR (People For Community Recovery). With her leadership, things started to change. Surrounded by toxic dumps, incinerators and disposal sites, PFCR galvanized the community and successfully challenged some of the largest corporations and politicians in America to take notice and clean up the area they’d been ignoring for years.

HAZEL JOHNSON:

Let me start from the beginning. How I really got involved was my husband had died of lung cancer and at the time they didn’t know what was the cause of it. hen a few years later I heard that our area had a high incidence of cancer and I wanted to know why. We had a lot of people being ill and I knew there was something wrong. I didn’t know what it was at the time.

I started making telephone calls to the health department and was fortunate enough to get in touch with Dr. Reginald Jones. He was well abreast about the area. He explained to me what was going on in the South East side of Chicago . . . about all the contaminants and things. He told me of an organization that was dealing with the environment. I made numerous calls and found out about the Environmental Action Foundation. At that time they had a young man whose name was Kent Silva. I questioned him on a lot of things, about different types of chemicals. He sent me a lot of literature so I could read up on it.

PCR (People for Community Recovery) really started in my bedroom. I did a lot of studying to see what the problem was that we were dealing with out here. When I first started a lot of people thought I was crazy. People said I didn’t know what I was talking about, because this was something new to everybody. They weren’t talking about the environment then like they do today.

In our apartment, in the attic, we have what I call angel hair. I called for them to remove the angel hair from the attic of our apartment. The kids would climb up in there and come out crying and stinging, you know, from the fiberglass. We had that removed.

After that we started fighting against Waste Management across the street because the odor was horrible . . . you had the garbage smell. I started doing a little research on Waste Management and learned how they were dealing with chemicals with the incinerator; how they were burning chemicals from many parts of the United States.

And the garbage . . . I’d never been concerned about the garbage before, until I really got involved with the environment and what was going on. This was all in the early eighties. You know, you put your garbage out and you don’t think about it no more. After I got involved dealing with the environment I got to be more concerned about the garbage and the whole recycling bit of it.

The Waste Management over there. (Nods outside.) I waited until my fifties, in July of eighty-seven, before I went to jail for stopping the trucks that were going in there. We had the media . . . we had a lot of people. In fact we had over five hundred people participating with this stopping the trucks from coming in. We had planned it. We had big garbage cans. Some people were out their barbecuing, with sandwiches and stuff. We had a party. After all the media left Waste Management called the police on us and seventeen of us decided to go to jail for “trespassing”.

When it came to court the judge didn’t know what to do, because he complimented us on what we were doing. Then he called the lawyer and talked to her in the back, in the chamber and when he came back he just said, “Stay away from the property for six months.” After that, we were next door to the property, on the expressway, with big signs and truckers and cars passing by were honking, blowing their horns and carrying on. We really had a lot of excitement going along the expressway. Waste Management called the police on us again, but there was really nothing they could do. We weren’t on their property.

We were saying how we didn’t want another landfill right across the street from a high school and everything, because of how it would affect the people.

And at Miller Manor they had some well water, which was so contaminated you couldn’t even drink it. It smelled just like a rotten egg. It was horrible! And they’d been paying taxes for water they couldn’t even use. There were about six families of older people. A lot of people didn’t believe the city of Chicago had wells, because everybody thought they had all the new system. When the EPA came to check they find out the city has over two thousand wells! After they got so much publicity for that the mayor came in and helped those people out. They didn’t even have a hydrant. If they had had a fire the place would have burned down automatically. So they went in and installed a water system and a hydrant and stuff and they started getting regular water, which they didn’t have to pay for since they’d been paying all those years before and couldn’t even use it. It made a big difference.

The media really picked up a lot of things I’ve been doing. I think that’s made a lot of these success stories that I talk about. The media participated a lot in it too. One little girl, I like her very much, her name is Deborah Nargent and she’s on ABC. She was a great help with the asbestos problem and gave me little tips of what to do and how to be successful with what we were doing.

Sometimes it gets frustrating getting folks to do what they should have in the first place. Like I’m telling my daughter and everybody right now, I am worn out. I am tired. At one point I’d never get home until ten or eleven o’clock at night. I’m working here during the day, then in the evenings we’d have meeting after meeting. Now I’m exhausted. I’m an older woman. At one point I was in the air two or three times a month, going to universities and speaking to meetings or before congress talking about the environment.

I’m on the CSI (Common Sense Initiative), dealing with the industry people in Washington. I asked my daughter Josephine if she’d like to be on the board for that because I’m tired. I don’t want to do no more running around here and there. A lot of people think that’s pleasure. To me it’s not because when I come back I’m worn out. I have to rest two or three days returning from wherever.

But I’m fortunate to say that the majority of the things I’ve fought for are real successful. When I first started a newsman from the local ABC came and asked me, “How do you think a small minority group like yours can buck up against a Multi-million dollar corporation?” I said, “You never know what you can do until you try.” About a year or two later I wrote him a letter outlining all my accomplishments, but he never returned or called saying he’d received the letter. Later on, when we were having a protest about the airport they were talking about building, he was there. I asked him, “Did you receive my letter?” He said, “Yeah, I received it.” But he made no comment on it.

Then we fought for the lagoons to be cleaned up and they cleaned up three of them. They had over 30,000 contaminants in them. Some of the stuff that was put in there had been in so long that they couldn’t tell what it was. A few barrels had paint solvent; some had baby sharks and baby pigs that had been used for medical research, that were in formaldehyde. They had problems trying to clean it all up because whatever was down there was such a mess it would clog up the trucks taking it out. They had to go back and get more money because it took a lot longer than they’d expected. The South side of Chicago was a forgotten area. Nobody was saying anything about the South East side until I got involved.

I’ve discovered that there are more waste sites and dumps around people of color and in poor areas than in other communities; not just here, but all around the country. We’ve brought this issue to national and international attention. I went to the world summit in Brazil. e had women from around the world discussing the problems in our communities. They had people from more than a hundred and twenty five countries. It was the first time they’d ever gotten so many dignitaries from different countries to sit down and take a picture together.

Complete profile of Ms. Johnson and others at Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call

U.S. Parks Take Deep Breath

The Clean Air Act is now over 40 years old!
From National Parks Conservation Association

Clean Air

Air pollution is among the most serious threats to national parks. Dirty air can darken the horizon and ruin scenic views. It also damages plants, harms fish and other wildlife, and even affects the health of visitors and park staff. Most of the air pollution affecting national parks results from the burning of fossil fuels, especially by coal-fired power plants.

NPCA advocates for new regulations to clean up hundreds of outdated power plants spewing pollution that harms our lungs and parks. We’re also taking steps to protect America’s national parks from ill-conceived proposals to build new coal-fired power plants near the parks. November 2011 marked a major victory in the fight to reduce haze throughout the country—read about the consent decree that is set to reduce pollution in 43 states this year.

NPCA at work

For decades NPCA has advocated for park air quality protections and currently leads a national coalition whose efforts have resulted in an agreement mandating enforceable air plans for 47 states.

NPCA successfully fought an unnecessary power plant near Hampton Roads, Virginia. Thanks to more than 9,000 supporters who spoke out against it, Old Dominion Electric Company suspended its plans to build the plant. As a result, the air around several national parks will be subjected to less haze from airborne emissions, and people in nearby communities will be able to breathe easier, too.

NPCA recently reached a historic agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority to retire some of its coal-fired power plants and reduce pollutants in the region.

NPCA’s California Clean Air and Climate program focuses on outreach, education, legislation and advocacy to promote cleaner air in the Pacific region. Field offices in Fresno, Joshua Tree, and San Francisco work with the parks, public, decisionmakers, and schools to fight for cleaner air.

NPCA helps coordinate a network of businesses in Virginia who voluntarily pledge to promote cleaner air. Learn more about the Virginians for Healthy Air Network.

National parks harmed by air pollution

Joshua Tree National Park has some of the worst air quality of any park, with record high ozone levels. On clear days, visibility is 100 miles, but haze pollution can cut views to 17 miles.

From 1999-2003, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks recorded 370 days with unhealthy air from ozone pollution. Over half of the Jeffrey and ponderosa pine trees are showing some level of ozone damage.

Ozone pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park has been higher than in urban Denver. On the haziest days, visibility at Rocky Mountain is approximately 57 miles- half the distance it should be.

The State of Florida has issued fish-consumption advisories in Everglades National Park due to high mercury levels in largemouth bass and other fish species.

Scientists at Mammoth Cave National Park have documented elevated levels of mercury in bats, including one species at risk of extinction—the endangered Indiana bat.

Estimated annual average natural visibility at Acadia National Park is 110 miles. However, air pollution reduces visibility to approximately 33 miles. Scientists measured some of the highest mercury concentrations in this park’s warm-water fish species, such as bass, perch, and pickerel.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park- our nation’s most visited national park, has spectacular overlooks that are severely impaired by haze. Scenic views in the park should extend for more than 100 miles, but air pollution cuts those views to around 25 miles.

Big Bend National Park has some of the worst visibility of any national park in the West. Scientists believe that mercury and other toxic compounds may be contributing to reproductive failure among peregrine falcons in the park.

Read more about clean air at National Parks Conservation Association, as well as information about all our countries beautiful national parks.

Energy Sources & Polar Bears

Dear Gabriel,

The rise of carbon pollution doesn’t just wreck havoc on the air we breathe, which is certainly bad enough. It wrecks havoc around the globe. So pollution from a power plant in California can have a lasting impact on life as far as Hudson Bay in the North Atlantic, where polar bears rely on the ice in summer months for hunting.

But the EPA is working on a common-sense rule that will limit how much carbon pollution new power plants can emit. Join me in supporting the EPA’s work to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.»

For the past century, coal-fired power plants have been the dominant source of American electricity. It has powered our homes, our communities… and our politics. Big Coal has a vested interest in not changing the way it does business, but it’s time that American power shift.

This rule won’t change emissions overnight, but it will move us in the right direction to tackle global warming and stimulate innovation in clean energy technologies.

The future of our environment, wildlife, our children’s health and our clean energy economy depend on forward-thinking changes like this EPA rule. Sign the petition now to stand up to the dirty air lobby and support clean air standards!»

Natasha
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Spill Baby Spill – Arctic Oil

Dear Gabriel,

Weeks away from starting the first major offshore oil drilling operations in the Arctic, Shell is pulling a major bait and switch — telling the EPA it can’t meet the air pollution rules the company had already agreed to in order to get a drilling permit.

Shell has known since 2010 it would have problems meeting the rules for nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions. But officials still told the EPA they could. Now Shell wants the EPA to weaken the rules at the last minute?

It’s clear that Shell simply cannot be trusted. The company’s request gives the EPA the option to cancel Shell’s permit. That’s exactly what EPA must do.

This is our last, best opportunity to block Shell from drilling in the Arctic this summer.

Tell EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Reject Shell’s permit to drill in the Arctic. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

This bait and switch is the latest in a long list of broken promises, walk-backs and mishaps which should serve as clear signs to the Obama Administration that allowing Shell to drill in the Arctic is a recipe for disaster.

Just this weekend, Shell literally lost control of its Discoverer drilling rig, which either ran aground or very nearly did so, when its anchor broke while harbored a thousand miles south of the Arctic. Moderate winds are being blamed — yet these winds are mild compared to what it will encounter in the Arctic. The rig, one of the oldest in the world, had a similar anchor malfunction just last year, while it was stationed in New Zealand.

Shell is also having problems with its nearly forty-year-old oil spill recovery barge. While Shell promised the Coast Guard it would upgrade it substantially to withstand stronger weather, Shell now says those upgrades aren’t necessary. The Coast Guard hasn’t yet decided if it will weaken these standards for Shell.

And of course — while we’ve known for some time that the Obama Administration was being hoodwinked by Shell’s hopelessly inadequate oil spill response plan — now Shell has come out and admitted its initial spill response claims were overstated. Shell initially said it could “recover” 95% of oil in the case of a major spill. Now Shell is saying that what it actually meant is “encounter” 95% of the oil — whatever that means.5

Tell EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Reject Shell’s permit to drill in the Arctic. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Shockingly, the Department of Interior has put the probability of an oil spill in the Arctic at 40%.

That is simply unacceptable. With Shell in the driver’s seat, it’s clear that it would be unwise to even bank on those unacceptably high odds.

Shell’s request to EPA is a major opportunity for President Obama and the EPA to revisit the undeserved trust they have put in Shell thus far. It’s time for EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to be a hero, and draw a line to stop the next major drilling disaster in the Arctic.

With Shell hoping to start drilling as soon as the Arctic sea ice clears in the coming weeks, EPA’s response could come any day. Click here to automatically add your name to the petition now.

Thank you for defending the Arctic from reckless offshore drilling.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Own Up Shell

Shell Oil considers the oil spils it caused in Nigeria a “tragedy.” Then why does the oil giant refuse to clean up its act?

Dear Gabriel,

There used to be life and hope in the Niger Delta town of Bodo, a village filled with thriving fish ponds and mangrove trees. Then in 2008, two oil spills changed everything — twice, nearby Shell Oil pipelines spewed toxic oil for weeks before they were repaired.

“It killed all the mangrove trees, the ecosystem, everything we put there. Everything just died in a day.” –Bodo resident Christian Lekoya Kpandei

What was Shell Oil’s initial response to the devastation in Bodo, to Christian’s ruined fish ponds and livelihood? Silence.

Although Shell has accepted liability for these two spills, it is still silent on the issue of undertaking a comprehensive clean-up of the affected area, fully compensating the people whose lives have been devastated by the spills, and rehabilitating the affected area.

Counter Shell’s silence with some noise of your own. Tell Royal Dutch Shell’s CEO that it’s time his company own up, pay up and clean up its human rights mess in the Niger Delta.

The facts are indisputable. According to a recently released UN report, Shell has failed to adequately clean up pollution in the Niger Delta for years. It’s a familiar story these days — yet another corporation trying to weasel out of a mess of its own making.

Today, on the 16th anniversary of the execution of Nigerian environmental and human rights defender Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his fellow activists, Amnesty is launching a new report that reviews the record of the Bodo spill and adds damning new facts.

Shell Oil, which recently reported profits of $7.2 billion for July-September 2011, initially offered the Bodo community just a few thousand dollars and 50 bags of rice, beans, sugar and tomatoes as relief for the disaster.

Shell Oil is one of the three biggest companies in the world by revenue, a juggernaut in international business. But when it comes down to paying for a cleanup fund in Nigeria — to pay basic compensation to residents like Christian who lost everything in the oil spill Shell is liable for — this multinational corporation refuses to take responsibility.

Of course, if Shell commits to a $1 billion cleanup fund in Nigeria, as Amnesty is asking it to do, Shell’s shareholder profits may suffer a little. But we believe corporations should not put the profit of a few over the health and human rights of entire communities.

Stand up for “the 99%”, wherever they are. We can’t be silent while the human rights to water and livelihood are being destroyed by corporations like Shell.

Let’s win a key victory in the fight against environmental abuses in the oil industry and for human rights. Sign our petition now calling on Shell Oil to clean up its Niger Delta mess.

For justice,

Tanuka Loha
Director, Demand Dignity Campaign
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Momentum is already on our side! Just last month the US Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases that will determine whether corporations can be sued in US courts for human rights abuses committed abroad. One of them involves a group of Nigerian nationals who sued Royal Dutch Petroleum and two of its Shell Oil subsidiaries, alleging their complicity in serious human rights abuses by the Nigerian government in the early 1990s to suppress activism against the oil industry.

Help Stop Keystone

Dear Gabriel,

Lisa Jackson and the EPA are our best hope of strong opposition to Keystone XL from within the administration.It’s clear by now that there’s simply no hope of the State Department issuing a legitimate evaluation of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Sometime in the next week, the EPA will issue its review of the State Department’s Final Environmental Impact Report.

Strong opposition from his own EPA will be essential if we’re going to convince President Obama to reject this horrible pipeline.

Tell EPA chief Lisa Jackson: Reject the State Department’s sham review of Keystone XL. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

The EPA has already roundly criticized the first two drafts of the State Department’s environmental impact report, in April, and again in June.

But of course, it’s not really even the State Department’s review. A major New York Times article last week exposed the massive conflict of interest that we’ve been telling you about for weeks: that the environmental review, and local hearing process, were actually conducted by Cardno Entrix, a contracting company with major business ties to pipeline developer TransCanada.

The corrupt, biased process has glossed over the significant threats from this pipeline to American lands and waters, and the broader threat of major escalation of global warming pollution by rapidly developing and burning tar sands oil.

We’re depending on the EPA to make those threats clear.

Tell EPA chief Lisa Jackson: Reject the State Department’s sham review of Keystone XL. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

As evidence of conflict of interest and improper relationships has grown, everyone is trying to avoid taking responsibility for this decision. President Obama has said he delegated it to the State Department. Secretary of State Clinton is sending signals she may delegate the decision to a deputy to avoid taking responsibility for it herself.

Any way you slice it, the decision is really in the President’s hands. However, if the State Department does approve the project, the EPA literally has the power to force a final decision by President Obama, by formally opposing the approval.

The EPA is our best chance to be the voice of sanity in the administration, and urge the president to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Send a message to Lisa Jackson now, before she issues her environmental review of the State Department sham in the coming week.

Tell EPA chief Lisa Jackson: We’re depending on you to strongly oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline! Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Thank you for fighting the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Hazel Johnson – Part 2

Excerpt from Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call. Interview with Hazel Johnson (Born: January 25, 1935 Died: January 12, 2011). Photo of Ms. Johnson holding her Presidential Medal.

Hazel Johnson – Part 2

Looking back at dealing with the environment, I don’t see anything that I’d change. We did a lot of protesting and we had a lot of people working with us. When I started out it was just me. Later, we started organizing, we got people of color in, started working together, you know? We all work together, whether you’re white, black, brown or whatever and one group does not make a decision alone; we do it collectively.

We were at a University of Chicago meeting and one media person came and was really surprised that not one person was trying to make any decision on what was going on . . . that we talked it over and discussed it . . . and it worked very well. He said he’d never seen that done before. We still do that today. Somebody needs support we are there and if we need support they are here.

I wasn’t educated or nothing. I self taught myself. I have a girlfriend who just died a couple months ago and I was talking to her about my personal problems. You know when you’re stressed out you want somebody to talk too? She’d always be the person I’d talk too since I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. She said, “I’ll be your sister.” She said, “God has you here for a reason.” You see I’m the first of four children and the other three didn’t live past a year. So she always said, “God has you here for a reason.”

When I started getting in to the environment and questioned people about different things, everybody was willing to share information with me. A lot of times when you’re doing things you look for a little negative, or something that throws you off, but I never did have that. By people being so willing to share information with me, I thought about what my girlfriend said and thought, “Maybe this is my purpose in life.” Then, as I went along, things started going well for us. I decided this must really be what I was here for. Even though I had a lot of negatives, I didn’t let it stop me because I felt this was something I had to do. That’s what makes me continue working as hard as I’ve worked. I’ve had some problems with the politicians and I say, “Forget them. I’m going to do what I have to do.” I felt I had to do it and I done it. Like four or five o’clock in the morning, I had little visions of somebody, like an inner spirit would say something to me about how to go about doing things. That’s when I really started thinking that this was my mission in life. A lot of things could have fallen apart, but they didn’t. Not everybody can say they’re successful, but I can say that.

Sure, I’ve cried on many days from the situation I was dealing with. It was giving me a big headache, but I didn’t let it stop me. One of the most painful times was when my husband died, just ten weeks after he’d been diagnosed. That’s what really pushed me out, because I looked at him then later looked around and saw some of my neighbors that had died of cancer and it got me wondering, “Why are all these people having cancer?” I wanted to know why. I wanted to know what was actually going on. There were so many people. In one given week I knew of eight people that died from cancer. At another time we had seven infants that were born with tumors and died very early. One of them was a boy and the rest were girls.

We’d been married seventeen years. He was a construction worker. He was on a job and they called me and said he’d took ill and gone to the hospital. It was way on the North side. So I went to the hospital. During that time the hospitals were packed with senior citizens. They even had them in the lobby. Some kind of illness was going around that year. They didn’t have a room available to put him in. Then we took him home and he stayed there awhile. Then we took him to Rosen hospital, not to far from us. He stayed in there a week, came home, stayed a week, then went back in the hospital and that’s when they found out he had cancer. The reason I remember it all so well is the day he took ill was my oldest daughter’s birthday. She’d just turned sixteen. Ten weeks later he was gone. He had lung cancer.

We have seven children. The oldest one was sixteen and the youngest was two when he died. The youngest is thirty now. I have eight grandchildren and one great grand. I’m sixty-two. That’s why I’m tired and ready to retire. I’ve been working all my life.

My husband’s death was my first major loss as an adult. My mother and my little brother died and my father too, when I was young. I don’t have hardly no relatives, but I have some good friends and two of my husband’s sisters and I are real close. There were a few neighbors of mine that really stuck with me during that time. When they called and told me about my husband, they didn’t tell me he expired, they just said come to the hospital right away. I called my husband’s brother and my neighbor, who by the time I got a ride she came with me.

Come to think of it, I’ve always been helping other people. Just thinking about Lionel . . . that was a hurting thing for me. I had sit up with him that night and went home about twelve o’clock. I’ll never forget that. By the time I got home from staying with him in the hospital I got a call saying he’d expired. And that really hurt because having just left him he looked pretty well. I’ve been finding out that many people who are real ill, that just before they expire, they do a lot better. That happened in my husband’s case and in this young man’s case. He was like a son of mine, you know? In fact I’ve had a lot of sons. You’d be surprised. (Laughs). Um hum. And now they all call me granny.

And I’ve always been helping older women. Um hum. An older friend of mine just passed last January, who I’d been looking out after. Her name was Irene. Before her was Ms. Austin and before her was Ms. Bessie. Maybe I catered to these older people because they were like a mother to me. You know, a mother figure. Mine died when I was twelve. And dealing with older people, they can tell you things that happened when they were young. Some very interesting stories they be telling. I’d like to listen to their stories and the things they used to do.

I grew up in a Catholic school. Years ago the Catholics were much stricter than they are now. I think that really helped me to be more of a religious person. I guess it just stuck with me. The majority of the things I’ve done had to be with the Almighty’s help in order for me to be successful.

I feel good now with a program we have that trains young people how to remove lead and how to respond to emergency crisis. Some of them got jobs from that. We’ve been doing this around three years. We help them to be certified by the state of Illinois. We have a list of contractors that we call and tell them about our trained folks and they get work.

We’ve also been getting into rehabbing apartments. This is our first try. We’ve just about completed it and the city likes what we’re doing so now they’re going to give us some other apartments to do. They’re really happy with the work the people have done.

We’ve been pretty fortunate. The only thing I wish is that we had a little more money coming in so we could do more. But when money is like peanuts, you can’t do the things you’d really like to.

Some universities have been ripping off community people. I was at a meeting in March and a lot of people were complaining about the same things. Here I was having problems with a big time local university. A lot of times they write these proposals and the community don’t know anything about it. They get money for a supposedly joint project with the community and we don’t even know anything about it. So I went to NEJAC (National Environmental Justice Advisory Counsel) and proposed some issues to help resolve the problem we were having with universities. And I spoke to a lawyer who helped me out a lot. Now I’ve got to fight to make sure it gets enforced. Because a lot of times they’ll come up with something then just leave it there and it does no good. That’ll be my next project.

If I died tomorrow I’d want people to remember that I tried to make a difference for the enhancement of folk’s lives. That’s how I’d like to be remembered. The way I look at it is that maybe by me doing some of the things that I’m doing it may help other people. It can’t help those that have already expired, but it will help make people aware of some of the problems like the lead program, where we’ve had the CHA (Chicago Housing Authority) go into the apartments and remove the lead. That’s my biggest concern now, is how lead poison is effecting so many children. They eat the paint because it tastes sweet.

Another thing we’re soon going to be working with is water pipes. A lot of our pipes have been installed so many years ago that they’re starting to deteriorate.

My daughter’s interested in helping also. We’ve been here fifteen years and she’s been working with me ten. She knows the inside and the outside of everything that’s going on.

It’s not really that important about me. The thing I’d like to see is people standing up for their rights. That is my biggest concern. People don’t know that they can move mountains. I want people to see that if they stand up for their rights a lot can be accomplished.

Some people say, “Watch out, you say that stuff and they’ll put you out!” People are afraid to do some things, but I’m not. I don’t care who you are. If I feel that you’re violating me, then I’m going to stand up to you. And I don’t do it in no nasty way. I tell people, “You can like me the next moment if you want to or dislike me, it doesn’t make no difference.”

THE END

Hazel Johnson – Part 1

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