Press Release - Detail
Roy L. Williams            
Director of Public Relations        
Birmingham Public Library             
Phone: (205) 226-3746 cell (205) 568-0067            
personal cell (205)572-1359
For immediate release Monday, Feb. 19, 2018

15th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture is Sunday, Feb. 25– "The First White Flight: Industrial Pollution and Racial Segregation in Birmingham"
What: Begin the Day: The 15th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture – "The First White Flight: Industrial Pollution and Racial Segregation in Birmingham"
When: Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018, 3 p.m. 
Where: Avondale Regional Branch Library
Details: Free and open to the public. Refreshments provided. Read more about the MLK Lecture at

Birmingham, Ala.-As part of the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Birmingham Public Library’s Department of Archives and Manuscripts each January sponsors “Begin the Day: The Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture,” now in its 15th year. For the 2018 King Lecture, to be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 25, Dr. Erin Mauldin of Samford University will explore environmental racism. This program was originally scheduled for Jan. 16, but had to be postponed due to inclement weather.

Discrimination over generations in urban planning, industrial development, and access to natural resources means that African Americans and other peoples of color disproportionately shoulder the burden of environmental risk in the U.S. Nowhere is this pattern of environmental injustice more starkly displayed than Birmingham, Alabama.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, Birmingham's economy depended on heavy industry and loose environmental regulations. And as early as the 1890s, whites cut roads "over the mountain" to escape the city's industrial core, leaving African American families behind to live among higher levels of pollution, filth, disease, and industrial contamination. Many white Birmingham residents eventually associated African Americans with the dirt and pollution of many black neighborhoods, and this stigma encouraged continued disenfranchisement, racially segmented economies, and further environmental degradation. Historical environmental racism and the resulting "separate but unequal" access to clean air and water still affect Birmingham's citizens today. 

Mauldin is assistant professor in the Department of History at Samford University. A graduate of Samford, she holds a Ph.D. in U. S. Environmental History from Georgetown University. Her forthcoming book, “Unredeemed Land: An Environmental History of the Civil War and Emancipation in the Cotton South,” will be published in May 2018 by Oxford University Press. 

Past MLK Lecture events have featured civil rights activists, scholars, children’s book authors, and community leaders discussing civil rights history and contemporary human rights issues including immigrant rights, voting rights, human trafficking, and Islamophobia. For more information contact Jim Baggett at 205-226-3631 or, or visit 

For additional information about the programs and services of the Birmingham Public Library, visit our website at and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @BPL. The mission of Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment. This system—with 19 locations and serving the community for 130 years—is one of the largest library systems in the southeast.
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