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The processes of industrialization and deindustrialization shaped and redefined U.S. economic, social, and demographic structures and have influenced the lives of African Americans ever since the late nineteenth century. Early in the twentieth century, industrialization contributed to a mass migration of African Americans from the South to northern cities in search of work. After World War II, growth of the industrial sector in the West fueled another movement of African Americans seeking economic opportunities. But as the industrial economy began to decline in the 1960s, tensions mounted in cities where residents tried to cope with the loss of jobs and deteriorating urban conditions. By the early twenty-first century, former industrial centers such as Gary, Indiana; Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Cleveland, Ohio, were struggling to rebuild their economies in the wake of deindustrialization—and they were not alone.

The period known as the Industrial Revolution occurred in two parts the First Industrial Revolution ...

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The phrase “environmental justice” began to appear in the US media around 1990. This new environmental justice awareness was triggered by grassroots protest in places burdened with human-caused environmental hazards such as hazardous waste and pollution from factories, power plants, and incinerators. A study commissioned by the United Church of Christ (1987) had already shown that such hazards tended to be located disproportionately close to the homes of racial/ethnic minority people. In the years since a large, interdisciplinary body of research on environmental inequalities has accumulated. Most of this research demonstrates that African Americans, Hispanics, and low-income people live closer than the affluent and whites to hazardous waste, industrial, energy, and garbage disposal sites (Mohai, Roberts, and Pellow 2009).

The unequal distribution of hazards or environmental inequality is one of an array of environmental justice concerns which center around environmental inequality in the cleanliness safety ...