Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful (GC&B) – a Keep America Beautiful affiliate and eco-focused, community-based nonprofit – is proud to be part of a diverse and vibrant community. With education as one of our founding pillars, in celebration of Black History Month, the GC&B crew will be shining the spotlight on historic black figures who’ve played an important role in changing the face of environmentalism. The social media campaign includes people like…
George Washington Carver
Born into slavery in Missouri, George Washington Carver would grow to become the most prominent black scientist of the early 20th century. An agricultural researcher who promoted the use of the peanut to replenish the soil in the once impoverished South, he educated farmers about the importance of crop rotation and yield. Carver supported many of the concepts of modern environmentalism – believing the health of the land was interconnected to the people it served. In 1894, he wrote, “man must take the initiative in using nature to provide sustainable food systems that will help to alleviate hunger, encourage local participation and activism, and to safeguard and control our local food and water systems.”
The founder of the Green Belt Movement, Wangari Maathai mobilized thousands of Kenyan women to plant trees to combat deforestation in their country and provide habitats for wildlife, fuel sources for rural communities, and a solution to soil erosion. Since its launch in 1977, the Green Belt Movement and the women Maathai inspired and empowered have planted more than 51 million trees. In 2014, Maathai became the first African woman to be honored with a Nobel Peace Prize. She once wrote, “When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope. We also secure the future for our children.”
In terms of history in the making, Rue Mapp founded Outdoor Afro to help connect people to black history in nature. She also wanted to mobilize communities to protect vulnerable public lands. With the tagline “Where Black People and Nature Meet,” since its launch in 2009, Outdoor Afro has grown to become the nation’s leading, cutting edge network of 90 leaders in 30 states that are dedicated to celebrating and inspiring black connections and leadership in nature. The organization is also committed to protecting and enhancing our lands, wildlife, and waterways for long term sustainability. Visit the Outdoor Afro website to learn more.
On February 27, GC&B will also take part in a Black History Month cleanup event at The Promised Land – a circa 1820s 1,000-acre former plantation in Grayson. First owned by Irish immigrant, Thomas Maguire, a portion of the plantation was sold to Robert Livsey in the 1920s for a reported $2,500 in money saved from working on the railroad. Livsey set about to transform the plantation to a thriving farm and burgeoning black community at the southern tip of Gwinnett County. The “Big House” at the heart of the plantation – also known as the Maguire-Livsey House – was sold to Gwinnett County in 2016 in hopes of restoring it to its former glory to serve as a house museum. The Livsey Family – including Thomas, who lived most of his life in The Big House, two of his grandchildren – Chad and Kyla, and several cousins will be joining 50 volunteers at the site to pick up litter. In addition to Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful, this event represents a partnership with several Gwinnett County departments including Community Outreach, Code Enforcement, Water Resources and GCPD’s Community Affairs Unit. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is already at capacity for volunteers. We can’t wait to share our photos and success story on the heels of this event with you. To learn more about The Promised Land, we invite you to read a couple of great articles from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Gwinnett Daily Post.
Image credit: George Washington Carver – TradingCardsNPS – licensed with CC BY 2.0.