by Greg Sawtell, United Workers
The Goldman Environmental Foundation today announced the six recipients of the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s largest award for grassroots environmental activists. Awarded annually to environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions, the Goldman Prize recognizes fearless grassroots activists for significant achievements in protecting the environment and their communities. Baltimore youth leader, Destiny Watford, is one of the six global winners, for her work to spearhead efforts to stop the nation’s largest trash burning incinerator from being built less than a mile from her public high school in Curtis Bay.
The winners will be awarded the Prize at an invitation-only ceremony today at 5:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Opera House (this event will be live streamed online at www.goldmanprize.org/ceremony). A ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. will follow on Wednesday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Watford began organizing four years ago as part of Free Your Voice, a human rights committee of United Workers. At the time she was a high school student at Benjamin Franklin High School less than a mile from the incinerator site. Last year she helped to persuade nearly two dozen municipalities and school boards including Baltimore City Public Schools to end their support for the incinerator. Most recently Watford and other students and community leaders won a major victory when the Maryland Department of Environment terminated the permit for the project after months of public pressure by residents.
“The world is watching Baltimore and the injustice that we face. After the tragic death of Freddie Gray and the unrest that followed, serious questions about structural racism and economic inequality, are rightfully being asked. My community has responded to this deep inquiry by fighting to stop the incinerator and demand community control of land. I am proud to serve as a representative of Free Your Voice, my city, and state as we continue to build a movement to change our city and nation towards environmental justice, truly green living-wage jobs, and affordable housing, to ensure that our basic human rights to live in a healthy, sustainable community are met.”