Dr. Beverly Wright is a professor of Sociology and founding director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ), formerly at Xavier University, now at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. The DSCEJ is one of the few community/university partnerships that addresses environmental and health inequities in the Lower Mississippi River Industrial Corridor, known as Cancer Alley. For over fifteen years, she has been a leading scholar, advocate and activist in the environmental justice arena.
Since Hurricane Katrina, much of her work at the DSCEJ focuses on research, policy, community outreach, assistance, and the education of displaced African-American New Orleans residents. Dr. Wright advocates for the safe return of residents, addressing the critical issues of health and environmental restoration while monitoring fairness as it relates to standards of clean up. The Center serves as a community resource, providing education, training, and job placement to displaced New Orleanians through its Hazardous Waste Worker Training Programs which embrace a work-based curriculum and holistic approach to the training and employment of young men and women living near Superfund and Brownfield sites. Dr. Wright conducted groundbreaking, significant research in the area of environmental justice developing a curriculum for use at the elementary school level by New Orleans Public Schools.
Dr. Wright provided valuable input into President Clinton's Environmental Justice Transition paper and was invited to the White House in 1994, to witness the signing of the Executive Order on Environmental Justice. That year, she was named to the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC).
In 1995, Dr. Wright was appointed to the Corps of Engineers’ Environmental Advisory Board and served on the City of New Orleans/Mayor’s Office of Environmental Affairs’ Brownfields Consortium. She served for many years on the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights for the State of Louisiana and on the City of New Orleans’ Select Committee for the Sewerage and Water Board under the administration of Mayor Marc Morial.
Dr. Wright served as chair of the Second National People of Color Leadership Summit in 2002, and is co-chair of the Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative. In 2003, Dr. Wright was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from State University of New York at Buffalo. In 2006, she received Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leadership Award. Dr. Wright received the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2008 Environmental Justice Achievement Award for her work with the Katrina Survivor’s Program. She serves as a member of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change and the Congressional Black Caucus’ African Americans for Healthy Communities project. She continues to be a strong voice in the grassroots environmental justice movement.