This post was originally published on The Washington Informer

By Kayla Benjamin

Environmental justice leaders from D.C., Hyattsville and Baltimore made up more than a quarter of the awardees on Black Millennials for Flint’s national Young, Gifted & Green 40 Under 40 list for 2022. The recipients were announced on Thursday, September 29 and honored at a reception near the Capitol Building that evening. 

Brenda Mallory, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, gave the keynote address. 

“We really need your creativity and your enthusiasm and your hard work in order to be successful,” Mallory said to the crowd of awardees and their guests. “And I’m just so grateful that you’re standing up and ready to do the hard work.”

The recipients from the DMV included climate and conservation organizers, founders of four different justice advocacy organizations, and the EPA’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, among others.

“This award is not about me, it’s about the movement—it’s about giving back,” said Cecile Brown, a Ward 5 resident and Communications Manager for Political Affairs & Climate for the Environmental Defense Fund. 

Black Millennial’s for Flint’s annual Young, Gifted & Green list aims to recognize Black, Latino, and Indigenous leaders working on environmental issues in historically disenfranchised communities. The organization works nationally to bring together environmental justice activists and focuses on collective action addressing lead exposure, especially in communities of color. 

“I am so proud to be standing here, surrounded by all of this Black and brown excellence dedicated to advancement and justice,” said Dakota Gant, founder of the Young, Black and Green Collective, accepting her award. 

“We are so often the only ones in the room. However, tonight I look around and feel the power in all of these dedicated and amazing individuals,” she said.  

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