Baptized in PCBs
Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town
In the mid-1990s, residents of Anniston, Alabama, began alegal fight against the agrochemical company Monsanto over the dumping of PCBsin the city’s historically African American and white working-class west side.Simultaneously, Anniston environmentalists sought to safely eliminate chemicalweaponry that had been secretly stockpiled near the city during the Cold War.In this probing work, Ellen Griffith Spears offers a compelling narrative ofAnniston’s battles for environmental justice, exposing how systemic racial andclass inequalities reinforced during the Jim Crow era played out in theseintense contemporary social movements.
Spears focuses attention on key figures who shapedAnniston—from Monsanto’s founders to white and African American activists tothe ordinary Anniston residents whose lives and health were deeply affected bythe town’s military-industrial history and the legacy of racism. Situating thepersonal struggles and triumphs of Anniston residents within a larger nationalstory of regulatory regimes and legal strategies that have affected toxic townsacross America, Spears unflinchingly explores the causes and implications ofenvironmental inequalities, showing how civil rights movement activismundergirded Anniston’s campaigns for redemption and justice.
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