Volunteer Nancie McDermott looked onto about 80 activists and Rogers-Eubanks community residents Saturday afternoon at the Faith Tabernacle Oasis of Love International Church community party and said three words.
"Silence means consent," she said. Roaring applause and cries of "Amen" followed.
"If we're not speaking up to the people who make a difference .then we're saying, 'yes,'" McDermott continued.
Attendees gathered Saturday as a part of the Rogers-Eubanks Coalition to End Environmental Racism.
Speakers said the landfills that have been in the Rogers-Eubanks community for the past 35 years are still there due to what they called broken promises of removal made by Orange County civic leaders.
Community members are working to remove the Rogers-Eubanks community from the county's current waste transfer station site selection process.
The Orange County Board of Commissioners met for a work session Tuesday evening to discuss plans for the waste transfer station.
At the meeting, the board decided to use exclusionary criteria to determine the station's location, which will be based mostly on distance from major transportation outlets such as Interstates 40 and 85.
The board has yet to decide on the technical and community-specific criteria for the station's location.
Board members plan to hold two more work sessions before the regularly scheduled commissioners' meeting June 24.
While technical criteria deals with building and engineering specifications, the board also will use community-specific criteria to address the issue of environmental justice and racism.
Omega Wilson, president of the West End Revitalization Association, spoke to the crowd Saturday about the perils of environmental racism.
For some residents, he said, 35 years of dealing with the impacts of solid waste disposal is enough.
But he said it is not enough for residents just to raise their voices.
He said that environmental racism is a problem outside of the Rogers-Eubanks community and that residents must work to turn passion into policy.
"The issue that you're dealing with is not here," he said.
"It's all over the county, predominately in African-American communities and Southern states - former slave states."
Wilson said the "vain spirit of the industrial world" is behind problems such as the one in the Rogers-Eubanks community.
"Some people call it a civil rights issue, a social justice issue or a scientific issue," he said.
"And some people call it, 'look at your babies,'" he said, adding that the community's children will be exposed to illness and will need to spend their own money on future community cleanup if the landfills are not removed.
But minister Robert Campbell, perhaps the most applause-evoking speaker of the afternoon, was saved for last.
Through deafening claps and cries, Campbell urged attendees to ensure that the Orange County government lives up to its mandate of protecting all communities and the environment.
He said that anything less is unacceptable.
"No community - rich or poor, urban or suburban, black or white - should be allowed to become a sacrifice zone - in other words, a dumping zone," he said.
Campbell continued, pointing out that this issue is not just one of the physical health of residents.
"When you take away basic health rights of people, you begin to let a culture be lost," he said.
That, Campbell said, cannot happen to the Rogers-Eubanks community.
"People often say we're a poor neighborhood - a low-income neighborhood," he said.
"But I say we're not poor. We're rich in heritage," he said.
And before the church doors opened to a lawn full of balloons, hot dogs and games for an afternoon of fellowship, Campbell gave the crowd one last, simple request.
"Let us preserve the future," he said.
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