Fighting for Environmental Justice
Ep. 91 - Meet Attorney Sheila Jones, a law professor at Georgetown Law School and a private practice attorney with a 40-year career spanning federal service, private practice, academia, and volunteer service with environmental preservation nonprofits. Sheila’s passion is fighting for environmental justice. She was born and raised in the nation’s capital during the days of segregation. Living in segregated Washington, DC, she was inspired by her parents’ insistence on education as an avenue of achievement for African-Americans in a society that didn’t offer equal opportunity. She subsequently joining the ranks of the youth integrating the undergraduate programs at the University of Maryland College Park in 1970. Sheila Jones thought she wanted to be a scientist while growing up. Yet as she came of age in the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement inspired her to instead pursue law, leading her to Harvard and a desire to push for change.
"Growing up in a society with segregation, it allows me in my own head to think about things other people won’t think about because they are growing up in a different environment."
In 1974, Sheila was admitted to Harvard Law School; the same year the very first woman was elected President of the prestigious Harvard Law Review and within 20 years of the first class of women to graduate Harvard Law. She pursued a specialization in environmental justice and law becoming an ardent voice and champion for "FACTS Do matter!"
Listen to hear how she persevered in a time that black women did not choose a career in law but she still went for it and succeeded. Hear about her legal career in fighting for racial and environmental justice and the advice she offers those who want to make a difference in their nation and what the road to equality looks like. Jones provides insightful analysis about understanding why environmental policy is so critical in making the earth a better place for all of us and the coming generations.
- The importance that was placed on education in the mid-20th century for black people to be able to compete for the jobs they desired
- The expectations that existed of a black woman to be extraordinary in what she studied
- Learning to acquire knowledge in a very unwelcome environment filled with discrimination
- The importance of preserving the environment due to the current climate change
- How climate change impacts our lives and will continue to affect us in the coming years
She describes her parent’s achievements and her childhood experiences and how that influenced her to study law [2:38]
Why she chose a career that directly helped impact other people’s issues- policymaking [16:48]
Attorney Sheila talks about her experience studying law at Harvard in Boston and the form of discrimination she and other black students received while there [22:50]
How her career as an environmental justice attorney span from the federal government to the private practice and the courses she has lived to fight for [32:33]