OUR Campaigns for Health & Justice

Economic Justice:

Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice was created to address economic policies and practices that influence worker exploitation, poverty, political misconduct, and environmental pollution. Black Belt Citizens members are workers and laborers whose families are involved in farming, small business activities, and community development. Uniontown and AL’s Black Belt need safer jobs with increased wages, better protection for workers, better health care for workers, and enforced labor rights. Black Belt Citizens work everyday to address the many different forms of economic injustices. 

Environmental Justice:

Black Belt Citizens is currently fighting for equal rights in environmental regulations, access to clean air and clean water, and protection of land and sacred space. Black Belt Citizens is challenging factory farms, mega-landfills, and state policies and practices that result in water pollution, toxic waste, and desecration of sacred space. Black Belt Citizens is managing multiple campaigns for environmental justice in Uniontown including:

  • Protecting Sacred Space from Toxic Waste;

Black Belt Citizens established itself to protect and defend the Uniontown community from toxic coal ash. From 2009 to 2010, over 4 million tons of toxic coal ash was dumped in Arrowhead Landfill. Black Belt Citizens members observed problems at the landfill including trespass and degradation inside New Hope Cemetery. Some of the group‘s members joined a Civil Rights Complaint with Earthjustice against the Al Department of Environmental Management for its permitting of the landfill. Residents and members are working with several organization and institutions to protect residents and New Hope Cemetery from toxic waste.

  • Providing Clean Water and Working Sanitation;

Black Belt Citizens’ members and allies have worked for clean water and working sanitation in Uniontown for 5+ years. Black Belt Citizens began a human rights campaign for clean water with the support of the US Human Rights Network in 2016. Black Belt Citizens is advocating for the City of Uniontown to build a mechanical treatment plant and stop the daily sewage overflows. Since 2016, Black Belt Citizens partnered with different organizations and institutions to document access to safe drinking water, wastewater failures, and industrial pollution from multiple sources.

Political Justice:

The founders of Black Belt Citizens experienced many forms of political injustice and then created diverse platforms to address their issues and desires in local elections with elected officials and candidates. From 2016 to 2019, Black Belt Citizens partnered with several organizations to create strategies for political justice highlighting citizen empowerment, access to voting, transparent candidates and fair elections, and building common goals among voters. Black Belt Citizens work includes issues and policies at the local, state, and federal levels.

OUR Programs for Health & Justice

Black Belt Citizens Appliance Ministry:

Black Belt Citizens partnered with the Black Belt Appliance Ministry in 2016 transporting washing machines, dryers, desks, bed frames, formal clothing, and other non-monetary items to families in Alabama’s Black Belt. Black Belt Citizens created its (Black Belt Citizens) Appliance Ministry in 2020 to connect privileged and affluent families and churches in urban areas with families in rural communities and in dire need of household items, used furniture, kitchen appliances, clothing, used tools and technology, books, and more. Currently, Black Belt Citizens is partnering with many groups and churches to increase direct services and donations of goods including the Black Belt Book Program which donates children’s books and other literacy resources to Alabama’s Black Belt.

Black Belt Citizens Community Defense Fund:

Black Belt Citizens members have worked side-by-side with lawyers and legal experts involving cases in freedom of speech, discrimination, families’ rights, protecting land, clean water, defending sacred space, public nuisance, voting rights restoration, and more. The Black Belt Citizens Community Defense Fund was created to connect those most impacted with environmental justice resources, legal tools, and other organizations who work in legal services. Currently, Black Belt Citizens is working with Black Warrior Riverkeeper to protect residents and their surface waters as well as Legal Services Alabama to provide monthly legal clinics in Uniontown.

Black Belt Citizens Community Health Network:

Black Belt Citizens’ founding members were very concerned about their health and the lack of health resources in Uniontown and AL’s Black Belt. Many Black Belt Citizens members have various experiences in the fields of health, community care, and nursing. In 2016, Black Belt Citizens partnered with the Center for Health, Environment & Justice to develop a community health network to increase education and documentation of the environmental health conditions in Uniontown and Al’s Black Belt. The Black Belt Citizens Community Health Network (CHN) has connected impacted residents to organizations and institutions for public health surveys and data, water and air monitoring, creation and distribution of educational materials, and community based participartory research. Currently, Black Belt Citizens is partnering with the Univerisity of Maryland to collect air quality data.

Black Belt Citizens Green Jobs Development Program:

In 2017, Black Belt Citizens began the “Green Jobs Development Program” with support from the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the Democracy at Work Institute to increase knowledge of co-ops, host economic workshops, visit family farms, provide opportunities for small business development, and begin planning a just transition with the area’s residents. From 2017 to 2019, the Green Jobs Development Program (GJDP) planted 200 blueberry bushes, supported dozens of family gardens with donated seedlings, helped some farmers secure grants, hosted several workshops, visited many family farms, purchased a tiller and other equipment, and distributed over 1,000 dozen eggs to residents. Currently, Black Belt Citizens is partnering with the Clif Bar Family Foundation to increase the efforts of the GJDP including distribution of fresh produce to vulnerable residents and supporting small farms around Uniontown. 

Black Belt Citizens Restore Your Vote:

Black Belt Citizens’ founding members were very interested in local politics and government affairs and the current leaders of Black Belt Citizens have various experiences in the field of politics and community governance. From 2016 to 2019, Black Belt Citizens partnered with organizations and created programs for “know your rights” trainings, voter registration and voter restoration, and to document political and electoral misconduct. Currently, Black Belt Citizens is partnering with Campaign Legal Center to increase voting rights restoration services in Alabama’s Black Belt as part of the Restore Your Vote Alabama Project.

Black Belt Citizens Women’s Network:

Black Belt Citizens is led by majority women and many of our programs have been created just for women by women. Black Belt Citizens’ work has focused on family, home, and health. For these reasons and more Black Belt Citizens created a formal Women’s Network in 2016. Since 2016, the program provided dozens of educational opportunities with travel support to events in Alabama’s Black Belt and across the country highlighting leadership development, access to arts and culture, education and empowerment, and sharing stories. The work of the Women’s Network in 2017 and 2018 spurred the creation of Black Belt Women Rising. Currently, Black Belt Citizens is partnering with Church Women United Montgomery, the Uniontown District Women’s Convention, and Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative to increase the flow of resources, access to direct services, and fellowship for Uniontown’s women.

Black Belt Citizens Youth Program:

Black Belt Citizens’ members want their children to have a safe, healthy, and enriching Uniontown. The Black Belt Citizens Youth Program was established in 2016 to allow Uniontown youth the opportunity to travel to cultural programs, participate in workshops with other youth, attend out-of-state conferences, and more. Since 2016, the Youth Program has increased opportunities for Uniontown’s youth to build confidence and leadership, increase access to healthy activities, and attend programs in Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Washington D.C., and South Carolina.

UPDATES on OUR GOALS for Protecting Sacred Space from Toxic Waste:

  • On February 7th, 2017, the landfill withdrew its $30 million dollar lawsuit intended to threaten Uniontown residents. A joint statement from all parties to the case is here: https://www.aclu.org/letter/joint-statement-parties-dismissal-lawsuit

  • On February 10th, 2017, the Alabama  Department of Environmental Management  (ADEM) renewed the landfills permit for another 5 years. On March 1st, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency dismissed the Uniontown residents’ civil rights complaint filed against ADEM.

  • In 2019 and 2020, Black Belt Citizens Board members worked with families and local genealogists to designate New Hope Cemetery as “Historically Designated” by the AL Historical Commission.

  • Black Belt Citizens advocates for NO coal ash in Perry County. Black Belt Citizens seeks to support the families living around the landfill including in New Hope Cemetery.

UPDATES on OUR GOALS for Clean Water & Working Sanitation:

  • Right now, sewage is overflowing in Uniontown. Black Belt Citizens seeks an investigation into the past $4.8 Million USDA project.
  • Black Belt Citizens asks the City to build a new wastewater treatment plant with NO increases to residential consumer rates.
  • Black Belt Citizens asks Harvest Select to build their own mechanical treatment plant and to stop exceeding thier limits of wastewater discharge into the City’s collection system near RC Hatch.
  • The City of Uniontown and Sentell Engineering are planning to use the USDA funding announced November 2018 to dump toxic waste from the landfill and cheese plant into a system near R C Hatch then pipe the sewage to Demopolis. Black Belt Citizens would like alternative plans for USDA’s $30 million project.