2013 Gondwe Lecture - Environmental justice advocates equal treatment within all cities

From the Gettysburgian

By Tyler Leard, Staff Writer

Speaking before a large audience in the College Union Building, Jonathon Ostar painted a stark picture about race and class issues in America in the 8th Annual Derrick K. Gondwe Memorial Lecture on Social and Economic Justice.

“Too many people are complimenting themselves and are willing to say that… we are in a post racial era when nothing is further from the case.”

Ostar is a specialist in environmental justice. The localized movement that is environmental justice seeks to eradicate the disparities between the upper and lower classes in urban areas as healthcare, housing quality, and availability of mass transit. He is currently the executive director of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, a community service and social justice organization based in Portland, and is a law professor at Lewis and Clark College.

Ostar mentioned examples of ongoing racial struggles including the high incarceration rates for black males. Most notably, he expressed alarm on the “systematic dismantling of Civil Rights laws.” He cited the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, which regulated electoral changes in states with history of racism, as an example of this. The repeal happened this past summer.

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