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date: 28 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Women have played instrumental, often leading, roles in the twentieth-century environmental movement. The sparse literature on women’s activism in the early twentieth century indicates that both White and Black women in the racially segregated, middle-class women’s club movement pursued urban reforms. But White women additionally adopted conservationism, while Black women led the struggle for racial justice. The more robust literature focuses on women’s participation in the environmental movement originating in the 1960s. Marked by class, gender, and racial divisions, the movement consists of three sectors. Whites and men far outnumber Blacks and women in the middle-class professional and radical movement segments that center on conservationism. In contrast, White and Black women dominate leadership and membership in community, anti-contamination organizations representing the working-class environmental justice movement. Research findings identify three themes: women’s motivations for becoming activists, their experiences of participating as activists, and the individual impacts of being activists.

Keywords: women, environmental movement, environmental justice, social movements, environmental racism, anti-toxics movement

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