Like so many others, we are profoundly disgusted and deeply saddened by what is happening in our country: the horrific and inexcusable death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, along with the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others; the threat of arrest of Christain Cooper in Central Park; the shooting of peaceful protestors in Louisville; and the incarceration and use of excessive force to stifle democratic acts of protest. These actions are painful reminders that we have a long way to go to ensure that justice and equity are applied to all Americans.
Racism has no place in a just society.
The Piedmont Environmental Council stands in solidarity with Black communities and our partners in the fight for social and environmental justice. The systemic change that is needed will take a collective effort from all of us—individuals, communities and organizations of all sizes in our nation. When people of color do not feel welcome or safe, our society is failing.
At PEC, we often say that “the beautiful places we love don’t happen by accident; they take perseverance, careful planning, and conscious prioritizing at every level.” Justice and equality for all—though they should be inherent, inalienable and unmistakable—require the same perseverance and thoughtful intent, and must be incorporated into everything we do.
But as an organization whose basic mission is to protect the environment and improve the quality of life for everyone in our region, we haven’t done enough to ensure our work is inclusive. We need to closely reexamine the ways in which we address institutional racism and recommit ourselves to listening to and supporting those voices that have been marginalized.
As we commit to do more, we ask you to join us in supporting the following local organizations that can lead all of us in our efforts to build a better, more equitable community:
- Afro-American Historical Association of Fauquier
- Orange County African-American Historical Society
- Fauquier Habitat for Humanity
- Black Family Land Trust
- Josephine School/Clarke County African-American Cultural Center
- Scrabble School/ Rappahannock African-American Heritage Center
- Jefferson School Black History Museum & Cultural Center
- Black History Committee of the Thomas Balch Library
- Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project
- Windy Hill Foundation
Together, we can shape a better future and build stronger communities that provide equal opportunity for access to nature and a healthy environment. The beauty of the Virginia Piedmont lies not only in our lands, but also in the hearts of our community members, our ability and resolve to come together to empathize and support one another, and our moral fortitude and willingness to stand up for what is right and just.