Bunyan Bryant grew up in a poor neighborhood in Little Rock, Arkansas, where the streets were unpaved and where Blacks like him had to step aside when a white person walked by. By the time he was in high school, his family had moved to Flint, Michigan, where the racism was less overt but the schooling was, if anything, a little worse for a bright but alienated Black teenager.
Bryant fled a soul-killing job at the local Buick plant by enrolling in college—despite his belief that a Black kid could never get a fair shake from a white teacher, let alone a white society still grappling with Jim Crow. College changed Bryant’s life forever. He ended up earning two graduate degrees and helping to found one of today’s most important social science disciplines—the field of environmental justice.
Educator and Activist is Bunyan Bryant’s story—a vivid account of his journey as an educator and activist in the movements for civil rights, students’ rights, women’s rights, international peace, and a healthy environment for all.
As a young professor, Bryant was chosen to launch the University of Michigan’s pioneering Environmental Advocacy Program. Through U-M’s Environmental Justice Initiative, which he directed, Bryant and his students helped poor communities across America fight dangerous practices like strip mining and demand fair treatment from businesses and government. Bryant went on to travel the world, studying and supporting battles for environmental and social justice. He pushed agencies like the EPA to take the problem of environmental equity seriously, and he mentored a generation of passionate young advocates that are carrying on his work today.
“Things have changed,” Bunyan Bryant has said, “but for me, they haven’t changed enough.” Educator and Activist captures a life dedicating to making change happen—from college classrooms and legislative chambers to communities around America and the world.
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