Community Member

Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition (MEJAC)

Mobile, Alabama

In Mobile, AL, Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition (MEJAC) organizes communities most threatened by environmental injustice to defend inalienable rights and ensure community self-determination. MEJAC was organized in 2013 in Mobile’s Africatown, a national historic district founded by the last enslaved West Africans brought to the US. After WWII, industrialists flooded the area with manufacturing, chemical refineries, multilane highways, and crude storage. Now, Africatown ranks above the 89th percentile nationally in 10 of 12 EPA environmental justice indexes that include air toxicity, proximity to lead paint, wastewater discharge, and hazardous waste. MEJAC works with regional partners like Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution and the Sierra Club to fight permits and zoning for polluters and to build community capacity for self-determination. When government efforts fail, MEJAC takes direct action to defend community rights to air, water, soil, health, and safety.

Detail of Cudjoe Lewis marker, Africatown, AL, Creative Commons

Residents feel a special connection to Africatown, in Mobile, AL. It was founded by the survivors of people brought to the US on the slave ship Clotilda 40 years after that practice was made a capital offense. While the land, people, and story of the place could be respected as a historical treasure, they have not received that respect. Instead, Africatown has lived within stinking papermill exhaust, atop gas and oil pipelines, and beside crude oil tanks and a coal ash pond leaking toxics into what American Rivers calls “one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers.” Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition (MEJAC) is a coalition of Africatown residents partnering with other groups working for environmental justice in the area, such as GASP and the Sierra Club. They challenge industry’s permits to operate there, demand action to curtail local problems, and have proposed a “Safe Zone” amendment to city officials to restrict new hazardous storage and prevent other industrial encroachment.

Industry near Africatown, Photo: John Sharp

For more information:

Africatown Is Still Trying to Breathe – Next City, March 2024

EPA objects to air pollution permit for Alabama coal plant –, June 2022 

In Africatown, tourism hopes following Clotilda discovery replaced with worries over zoning map –, May 2022

Mobile River named among America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2022 – American Rivers, May 2022

Local agencies push to have ‘Community Safe Zones’ in Africatown – NBC 15 news, May 2022

EPA Grants Petition, Denies Air Permit for Facility in Historic Africatown Community – GASP Group Press Release, May 2022

Imperiled by city planners, ignored by Congress, Black people fight for air that won’t kill them – The Grio, April 2022

Netflix, Higher Ground Acquires Sundance Award Winner ‘Descendant – Variety, January 2022

A2 Staff

A2 Staff

This profile was compiled by a dedicated team of staff members who conducted interviews and gathered information from various outlets, including news articles, social media, and other sources.


Ramsey Sprague


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Climate Impacts

Air Pollution, Flooding, Sea Level Rise, Water Contamination


Affordable Housing, Community Science, Direct Relief and Aid, Fighting Industrial Contamination, Halting Bad Development, Nature-Based Solutions, Policy Reform

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