Forty-one years ago today, on a balcony in Memphis, TN, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was taken from us. His dream, however, did not die on the balcony.
One year ago, on the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination, I was in Memphis at a very special and important gathering, the Dream Reborn Conference organized by Green for All. This gathering jumpstarted a nationwide movement for an inclusive green economy. Over the course of a year this movement grew so quickly and became so powerful, that we got $500 million dollars for green jobs training in President Obama's economic recovery plan.
Now, our movement for climate justice and economic opportunity has a critical role this month. We must fight for federal clean energy legislation that will create jobs, help end our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, and combat global warming.
This week, Congressman Henry Waxman, Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Congressman Edward Markey, Chair of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, released a draft of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES). Here is a summary of the bill.
This legislation takes a step towards ending global warming, and by working with our environmental movement allies we can align the cause of ending urban poverty with the need to protect our environment. That is, if we can connect the dots between what's good for our planet and what's good for low-income urban communities.
You see, it is mostly poor people of color in the U.S. and around the globe who are feeling the impact from climate change, through increases in heat-related illnesses and deaths, rising energy costs, and of course natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina.
We can end poverty and save our climate at the same time. Our demands in the month of April to our Representatives in Congress should be to create Clean Energy Jobs, rebuild our economy, save consumers and businesses money through industry efficiency, protect consumers from energy price spikes (like $4 a gallon gas last summer), and cap global warming pollution to protect our vulnerable communities and avert the high price of inaction.
One piece of legislation, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, can do all this for us, if we make it so. Nothing is guaranteed for Urban America in this green conversion, if the streets stay silent on this issue.
We have come so far over the course of a year, as a movement we worked both to elect the people we want to best represent us, and at the same time, we fought hard on the issues that matter. Opportunity is before us, and we must seize it.
I gave a speech one year ago, as the keynote to the opening plenary of the Dream Reborn Conference. Davey D, a renowned Hip Hop journalist, remixed it. I would give the same exact speech today, April 4, 2009 as we still fight for the Dream. Listen to the speech with an introduction from my good friend Van Jones:
You can also listen here: Davey D's Hip Hop Corner