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Robert Bullard

Environmental activist and sociologist Robert Bullard was born on December 21, 1946, in Elba, Alabama, to Myrtle and Nehemiah Bullard. He was the fourth of five children. Growing up in Alabama during the 1950s, Bullard experienced the effects of a segregated community. After graduating from high school, Bullard went on to attend the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. He received his B.A. degree in history and government with a minor in sociology in 1968. He continued his education at Atlanta University, where he earned his M.S. degree in sociology in 1972. During his graduate studies, Bullard started his work in urban planning and went on to complete his Ph.D. program at Iowa State University in 1976.

After receiving his Ph.D. degree, Bullard moved to Texas to teach at Texas Southern University. It was in Texas that Bullard met his future wife, Linda McKeever. In 1978, Bullard was asked by Linda to collect data for a lawsuit, Bean v. Southwestern Waste Corporation she had filed in federal court involving the placement of garbage facilities in mostly black Houston neighborhoods. This was the first lawsuit that charged environmental discrimination using federal civil rights laws. This inspired Bullard to learn more about careers in the environmental field. After Texas, Bullard taught at universities in Tennessee and California before returning to his alma-mater, Clark Atlanta University, where he was named the Edmund Asa Ware Distinguished Professor of Sociology and the Director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University. In this position, Bullard was able to do research and actively pursue the issue of environmental justice.

Bullard has been a pioneer in the field of environmental justice. Among his many accomplishments, Bullard helped to organize the 1991 National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, the first meeting of its kind where various minority groups could discuss the problems associated with environmental justice. Just a few years later, he was instrumental in President Clinton’s signing of Executive Order 12898, the first legal document that defined the need for environmental justice in the United States. For his continued research on contemporary cases of environmental justice and his active presence in the community, Bullard has been called the “Father of Environmental Justice.” Bullard has delivered many presentations and he has written over fifteen books detailing his research and perspectives on environmental policy. A selection of his works include: Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality, Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices from the Grassroots and Race, Place, and Environmental Justice after Hurricane Katrina.

Among the many awards that Bullard has received is the American Sociological Association's William Foote Whyte Distinguished Career Award in 2007. He was also named one of Newsweek’s thirteen “Environmental Leaders of the Century,” in 2008.

Robert Bullard was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 12, 2011.

Accession Number

A2011.020

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

4/12/2011

Last Name

Bullard

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

D

Schools

Alabama A&M University

Clark Atlanta University

Iowa State University

Mulberry Heights Elementary School

Mulberry Heights High School

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Elba

HM ID

BUL02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

And justice for all.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

12/21/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Environmental activist and sociologist Robert Bullard (1946 - ) became director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark-Atlanta University in 1994. He is often considered the “Father of Environmental Justice."

Employment

United States Marine Corps

City of Des Moines

Texas Southern University

University of California, Riverside

Clark Atlanta University

Environmental Justice Resource Center

Favorite Color

Green

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Bullard's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert Bullard shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Bullard talks about his mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Bullard recalls his mother's childhood neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Bullard talks about his mother's education and her career aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert Bullard discusses his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert Bullard talks about his family's land in Elba, Alabama, part 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert Bullard talks about his family's land in Elba, Alabama, part 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert Bullard talks about his family's land in Elba, Alabama, part 3

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert Bullard discusses his father's family background and career aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Bullard talks about his parents and siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Bullard describes his childhood in Elba, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Bullard describes the sense of ownership in Elba, Alabama, his childhood community

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Bullard describes his elementary school and high school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Bullard talks about his favorite school teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Bullard talks about his childhood activities and interests

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Bullard remembers his father's interest in the news

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Bullard shares his perspective on the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Bullard discusses the conditions of his segregated high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Bullard describes his black high school teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Bullard remembers his high school principal

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Bullard recalls his high school extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Bullard recalls his high school aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Bullard describes his decision to attend Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert Bullard recalls his experiences at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert Bullard relates the lack of involvement of Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert Bullard remembers the Black Power Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Bullard describes the reaction of students at Alabama A&M University to the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Bullard talks about being drafted into the United States Marine Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Bullard talks about serving in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Bullard discusses his decision to pursue graduate studies at Atlanta University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Bullard recalls what drew him to Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Bullard talks about his mentors at Atlanta University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Bullard reflects on the legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois in sociology

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert Bullard discusses his decision to study sociology at Iowa State University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert Bullard discusses his graduate dissertation at the University of Iowa

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert Bullard describes his career at Texas Southern University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert Bullard talks about his book, "Invisible Houston"

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert Bullard discusses the black communities of Houston, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert Bullard talks about landfills in black neighborhoods in Houston, part 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert Bullard talks about landfills in black neighborhoods in Houston, part 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert Bullard explains the relevance of his work in both civil rights and environmental protection

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert Bullard discusses the impact of his work in Houston, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert Bullard discusses his teaching positions at the University of California

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert Bullard talks about his book, "Dumping in Dixie"

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert Bullard discusses the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert Bullard describes the environmental justice movement

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert Bullard talks about environmental justice and the black community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert Bullard discusses the need to fight cases of environmental injustice

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert Bullard discuses the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert Bullard talks about creating the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark-Atlanta University

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Robert Bullard emphasizes the connection between health and the environment

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert Bullard describes working with other environmental groups

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Robert Bullard compares the effects of different political administrations on environmental justice

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Robert Bullard shares his plans for his future

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Robert Bullard reflects on his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Robert Bullard discusses the status of his family members

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Robert Bullard describes how he would like to be remembered