Black Nature Narratives

Black Nature Narratives offers black perspectives on issues relating to the natural world and our relationship with nature. Hosted by Beth Collier.

Here we’ll celebrate our love of nature and share inspiration from black leaders within conservation, ecology, outdoor education and environmental justice talking about their work and journeys into a field with low representation of black people; highlighting voices less heard within the environmental field.

We’ll also be exploring the historical legacies and lived experience which impacts on how we see ourselves as part of nature or as belonging within natural spaces and environmental organisations; giving consideration to how our presence and perspectives can become politicised when our lived reality diverges from the mainstream narrative.

Series 1

In Series 1, Beth speaks with African American academics, practitioners and activists working within nature education, environmental justice, youth engagement, faith and civil rights organisations. They’re speaking on themes of black history, black centred activism, black leadership within predominantly white environmental organisations, civil rights legacies and encouraging greater black participation within the environmental field.

In this episode Beth is talking with Dr. Mamie Parker, a biologist and the first African American female Chief of Staff at the US Fish and Wildlife Service and former Head of Fisheries. She considers her first mentor in the outdoors to be her mother who would take her fishing as a child and share life lessons. Listen in to hear Dr Parker offer inspiration about navigating white dominated spaces, as the first child to integrate her school in Southern Arkansas and in her career progression within the environmental field.

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In this episode Beth is joined by Destiny Hodges and Audre’ana Ellis, students at Howard University and leaders within the environmental justice movement. Listen in to hear what studying at an HBCU means to them, their sense of responsibility to the community in DC, their thoughts on the idea of environmentalism as a white endeavour and their hopes for careers within the environmental field. We were speaking together during a break at a Smithsonian conference for Women Environmental Leaders.

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In this episode Beth is talking with Katherine Egland, Chair of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Committee. Katherine is a veteran civil rights activist who ‘took her earrings off’ and stepped into environmental justice activism after Hurricane Katrina devastated her home community in Mississippi; just 5 years later the BP oil spill contaminated the same area.

In a current campaign she raises awareness of how UK import practices aimed at reducing emissions are negatively impacting black communities in the southern United States.

Katherine’s journey into activism was greatly influenced by her early experiences marching with Dr Martin Luther King and attending the funerals of her community leaders, Vernon Dahmer and Medgar Evers, both of whom were murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Listen in to hear Katherine’s insights as an elder who’s work has fought for principles of environmental justice to be held as inseparable from civil and human rights.

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In this episode Beth is talking with Dr. Ka’mal McClarin, a Frederick Douglas scholar and Curator of the Frederick Douglas House Museum within the US National Park Service in Washington DC.

Douglas was a highly accomplished man; having escaped enslavement, he was an intellectual who became a statesman, advancing the cause of abolition and social reform – he also found time to pursue his interests as a keen naturalist.

New research is helping to build an even richer picture of Douglas’ life. Listen in to hear Ka’mal’s research on Douglas’s life in relation to the natural world, as we sit talking at Cedar Hill – Frederick’s home and smallholding.

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In this episode Beth is talking with Eboni Preston, Director of Programmes for the Greening Youth Foundation, a national non-profit in the US. 

Listen in to hear how this Atlanta based organisation has partnered with the National Park Service to increase opportunities for African American young people to enter environmental careers.

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In this episode Beth is talking with Nana Firman who is the Muslim Outreach Director at GreenFaith, an international non profit multi-faith climate and environmental organisation.

Listen in to find out how religious congregations can contribute to education and social engagement on environmental issues, and the importance of highlighting and interpreting the value of nature through existing theology.

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