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Before the Streetlights Come On: Black America's Urgent Call for Climate Solutions
Heather McTeer Toney


Climate change. Two words that are quickly becoming the clarion call to action in the twenty-first century. It is a voter issue, an economy driver, and a defining dynamic for the foreseeable future. Yet, in Black communities, climate change is seen as less urgent when compared to other pressing issues, including police brutality, gun violence, job security, food insecurity, and the blatant racism faced daily around the country.

However, with Black Americans disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change--making up 13 percent of the US population but breathing 40 percent dirtier air and being twice as likely to be hospitalized or die from climate-related health problems than white counterparts--climate change is a central issue of racial justice and affects every aspect of life for Black communities.

In Before the Streetlights Come On, climate activist Heather McTeer Toney insists that those most affected by climate change are best suited to lead the movement for climate justice. McTeer Toney brings her background in politics, community advocacy, and leadership in environmental justice to this revolutionary exploration of why and how Black Americans are uniquely qualified to lead national and global conversations around systems of racial disparity and solutions to the climate crisis. As our country delves deeper into solutions for systemic racism and past injustices, she argues, the environmental movement must shift direction and leadership toward those most affected and most affecting change: Black communities.


Heather McTeer Toney is an attorney, environmentalist, speaker, and writer. She was the first Black, first female, and youngest mayor elected in Greenville, Mississippi, at age twenty-seven. In 2014, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency's Southeast Region. Formerly the senior director for Moms Clean Air Force, Toney is now vice president of community engagement for the Environmental Defense Fund. She is a frequent guest on numerous shows and networks including CNN, Apple's The Problem with Jon Stewart, MSNBC, Democracy Now!, and Fox News. Heather lives with her husband and three children in Oxford, Mississippi.


"A persuasive case for why Black activists should be at the forefront of the environmental movement." -- Publishers Weekly 

"Heather McTeer Toney gives us a practical, accessible, essential book that directly responds to Mother Earth's call: 'Say my name; you gonna respect me,"' as she dishes out some 'Do Right' to make sure we all know she's pissed about how we have disrespected the gift and how she expects us to do better moving forward." -- Mustafa Santiago Ali, EVP, National Wildlife Association

"This book is so important. Heather McTeer Toney brings to life the intersection of climate change and the social justice issues faced by Black Americans daily through her stories and lived experience. ...This is the urgent solution we need in order to effectuate equitable climate policy. Heather's book will help people of all backgrounds see clearly the effects of unjust and unbalanced actions on Black America as well as understand why it is critical to our collective survival." -- from the foreword by Dr. Robert D. Bullard and Dr. Beverly Wright, authors of The Wrong Complexion for Protection: How the Government Response to Disaster Endangers African American Communities

[H]  Broadleaf Books  /  April 18, 2023

1.5" H x 8.1" L x 5.9" W (0.95 lbs) 198 pages