Local Drive-In Teaches Environmental Justice

With everything that has happened in the past couple months, lockdowns, shortages and a skyrocketing unemployment, safety and health of families is at the forefront of peoples’ minds. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not the only threat to safety and well-being. There are terrifying environmental issues going on in today’s world. Climate change and fossil fuel extraction is prompting devastating wildfires, hurricanes and other natural disasters that are having crippling impacts on safety, economy and overall ways of life. 

Most times these issues remain on the backburner and forgotten about, but there are environmental groups that want to stop that from happening. One such organization is The Center for Coalfield Justice. Their mission is to improve policy and regulations for the oversight of fossil fuel extraction and use. They strive to educate, empower, and organize coalified residents and to protect public and environmental health. 

This organization is hosting a Fall Environmental Justice Film Series to promote their organization and the causes they are fighting for. 

An event was held at the Skyview Drive-In on Wednesday September 23rd from 7-10 p.m. showing the award winning Harlan County USA movie and had two experts share their insights. 

“It is the perfect film for kicking off our Fall Environmental Justice Film Series” DePaoli said, “It demonstrates the importance of labor and economic justice and what people can accomplish if they work together”. 

The organization’s work is informed and directed by how local people think industries should be held accountable. 

“We are an environmental justice organization and want people to understand why we work the way we do. There are important interconnections and links between economic, social, racial, climate and environmental justice. We cannot have the justice that people need and deserve without considering a range of factors that need to be addressed” DePaoli said, “we need to fight for the environment because it is vital to life on earth.”

After the showing of the movie Lou Martin and Jessie Wilkerson, both labor historians participated in a discussion. Lou Martin is a professor of labor and working-class history, environmental history and Appalachian history and culture. Jessie Wilkerson specializes in U.S. women’s and gender history, labor history and Appalachia. 

If you want to learn more about the organization here is the link to their website and facebook below. 



If you would like to learn more about the other films in this series and when and where they will be playing use the link below.