Two Nonprofits Fund New Howard Law Environmental And Civil Rights Positions


WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 1, 2021) — True Costs Initiative and the Equation Campaign recently made a sizable donation to the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights and Environmental Justice Centers at Howard University School of Law.  The donated funds will allow the centers to expand the support they can provide by hiring and sharing a staff attorney who splits time equally between the two centers, as well as one environmental and one civil rights research assistant.

The grant will strengthen the capacity of the centers to undertake important work at the intersection of environmental and racial justice, particularly as it relates to climate change, corporate accountability, and protecting the free speech and association rights of activists and impacted communities to challenge abuse and protest against the fossil fuel and other polluting industries.

"Communities of color and low-income communities suffer disproportionate exposure to pollution and the numerous sources that cause it,” said Carlton Waterhouse, professor of law and Environmental Justice Center director at Howard University School of Law. “This wonderful gift allows the Environmental Justice Center to provide direct legal assistance to communities in need of support to challenge these injustices they face in their daily lives to create cleaner, safer communities."

The Environmental Justice Center prepares Howard law students to become social engineers who address longstanding environmental concerns and the new threats created by climate change by serving these communities. In this way, the center focuses the needs of Black, indigenous, and other communities of color in the environmental arena by providing legal support and advocacy. Through administrative claims and complaints, as well as negotiations with public and private parties, the center advocates for communities saddled with environmental adversities. Drawing on the rich pool of faculty and students across campus, law students will work with other students to provide holistic approaches to address environmental challenges facing communities.

"We have less than 10 years to cut emissions in half to avoid the worst of climate catastrophe, and the only way we can do this is to stop the expansion of oil and gas,” said Katie Redford, executive director, Equation Campaign. “Local people and frontline communities who are hit first and worst by the human rights and environmental harms by the fossil fuel industry are our best bet for leading change, and they need our support.  Now more than ever, we must amplify their demands, and defend their rights and homelands with the force of law.  This collaboration between the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center and the Environmental Justice Center to meet climate injustice with powerful legal tools, while training future movement lawyers could not be more timely, and we’re proud to support it.” 

The Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, Howard University’s flagship institutional setting for the study and practice of civil rights, human rights, and racial justice law and advocacy, seeks to obtain the goal of racial justice by using a human rights framework and a social movement-centered approach

The funded staff attorney would engage in research, movement lawyering, and organizing in order to promote the First Amendment right to dissent in the defense of protest.  This work would include drafting reports, participating in coalitions with other groups with which the Thurgood Marshall center already works (Black Lives Matter, Right to Dissent Network, etc.), and movement lawyering that might include litigation, political advocacy, and other methods to promote the right to protest in the United States. 

“This work sits uniquely at the intersection of environmental and racial justice, particularly as it relates to climate change, corporate accountability and free speech of activists and impacted communities challenging corporate abuse,” said Conniel Malek, executive director at True Costs Initiative.  “Expanding the legal expertise and capacity at the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center and the Environmental Justice Center contributes to our shared vision of a world where the law protects and prioritizes people, not corporations.  We are investing today in that vision of a safe and just tomorrow, and we can think of no better place to do so than at Howard University Law School.”

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About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit


About True Cost Initiative
A non-profit organization operating in the business & human rights and corporate accountability space, True Costs Initiative seeks to increase corporate accountability and to strengthen legal systems in the Global South by driving collaboration among communities, funders, and creative leaders in an effort to tip the balance so corporations are held accountable for and internalize the true environmental and human costs of their actions. TCI and it's grantee partners work at the intersection of climate justice, racial justice, movement-building and inclusive development.  


About Equation Campaign
Funding movements on the ground to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
The Equation Campaign is a new ten-year funding initiative working to bring about a safe and just future by enhancing the power of movements to keep oil and gas in the ground. The Equation Campaign is premised on the belief that we can keep it in the ground by funding movements on the ground — enabling historically underfunded grassroots groups to stand shoulder to shoulder alongside their peers in the national environmental community.