Collette Carter is an Atlanta Georgia activist. Born in St. Louis, MO, and raised in New York City, Collette Carter a self-identified Black Queer Fat Femme comes to Atlanta as the former co-director of the Audre Lorde Project, a community organizing center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people of color. Collette brings over fifteen years experience in community building, leadership development, nonprofit management, theater arts and film. Her philosophy is that the heart of movement-building is the work of making spaces which help us sustain hope, the possibility for survival, as well as transformation.
Jackson Peoples’ Movement Assembly
July 2015, hundreds gathered for the Southern Peoples’ Movement Assembly for a Just Transition at the Chokwe Lumumba Center in Jackson, Mississippi, resolved to fight against climate change and fight for social justice. Bringing to the fore the intersections of race, class, gender, and queerness with the devastating effects of climate change—and the work to transition the region away from destruction and toward an ecologically and socially just place—the Assembly worked to help build “a mass movement” for a just transition.
Collette Carter, who attended from Atlanta, said it was a “meaningful and decisive gathering of leadership from across the South to have intentional conversations on how to bring Black, indigenous, women, and LGBTQ communities within the movement for climate justice.”
Indeed, the Assembly emphasized that it will take the mobilization of these communities on the frontlines of the fight—the people most affected by the ravages of climate change—to ensure mutual survival and flourishing in a just transition.
The Peoples’ Movement Assembly is one model for winning and building that kind of power. Fittingly, the Assembly took place in the Chokwe Lumumba Center. Chokwe Lumumba, was the Mayor of Jackson until his sudden death less than a year after his election. It was Lumumba’s connection to and leadership of a People’s Assembly in Jackson, which grounded him in the problems and opportunities, needs and dreams of the people there that ushered in his victory: no easy feat for a self-declared revolutionary, socialist, Black nationalist in one of the country’s most racist states.
It will also mean a real challenge to environmental racism particularly, and white supremacy more generally, because it’s racism that has enabled the South to become a dumping ground for toxic waste, and has kept a political regime in power that allows extraction, pollution, and deregulation. As the Movement for Black Lives continues to grow, the Assembly brings forward new issues of concern for Black communities and the movement for racial justice. We need communities without police violence and poverty, but we also need communities where we can drink the water and breathe the air—indeed, communities where we can live on the land at all.
“The Jackson Peoples’ Movement Assembly was a place for movement leaders to come up with a regional action plan for how we actually get to a Just Transition that centers pro-Blackness, LGBTQ issues, and indigenous folks. We discussed the problems we face, developed a vision and created action steps to bring that vision into fruition,” said Cazembe Jackson, an Atlanta-based home care worker organizer.
We’ve got to stop climate change—and the consequences it creates and exacerbates, like poverty and racist, sexist violence; our health and lives depend on it.