Jacqueline Patterson, founder and executive director of the Chisholm Legacy Project Credit: Courtesy of the Chisholm Legacy Project

For Jacqui Patterson, advocacy around protecting the environment extends far beyond just Earth Day. 

Patterson runs the Chisolm Legacy Project, which is a resource hub for Black frontline climate justice leadership. The project focuses on four “buckets,” as Patterson calls them— working with individual communities at a hyperlocal level; working with movements and organizations related to racial justice and climate change; bending the mainstream arc towards equity and justice by trying to get groups and individuals to integrate equity and justice into their environmentalist philosophies; and supporting the wellbeing and leadership of Black women. 

Patterson says the idea for the Chisolm Legacy Project came from the high demand for the services it offers working for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Patterson spent 11 years working on six different projects for the NAACP, one of which was an environmental justice program. Patterson says the program “reached a point that the container of being one of six programs was too small for the demand that we were getting.” 

“Every day, I worked until I fell asleep on my laptop,” Patterson said. “I would just be working with CNN in the background until I fell asleep. In the morning, I would wake up and the laptop would still be on from last night and I would just finish the sentence that I had when I fell asleep.” 

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