The MacArthur grant-winning environmental justice activist's riveting memoir of a life fighting for a cleaner future for America's most vulnerable
A Smithsonian Magazine Top Ten Best Science Book of 2020
MacArthur "genius" Catherine Coleman Flowers grew up in Lowndes County, Alabama, a place that's been called "Bloody Lowndes" because of its violent, racist history. Once the epicenter of the voting rights struggle, today it's Ground Zero for a new movement that is Flowers's life's work. It's a fight to ensure human dignity through a right most Americans take for granted: basic sanitation. Too many people, especially the rural poor, lack an affordable means of disposing cleanly of the waste from their toilets, and, as a consequence, live amid filth.
Flowers calls this America's dirty secret. In this powerful book she tells the story of systemic class, racial, and geographic prejudice that foster Third World conditions, not just in Alabama, but across America, in Appalachia, Central California, coastal Florida, Alaska, the urban Midwest, and on Native American reservations in the West.
Flowers's book is the inspiring story of the evolution of an activist, from country girl to student civil rights organizer to environmental justice champion at Bryan Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative. It shows how sanitation is becoming too big a problem to ignore as climate change brings sewage to more backyards, and not only those of poor minorities.
About the Author
Catherine Coleman Flowers is the founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, and since 2008 has been the rural development manager at the Race and Poverty Initiative of the Equal Justice Initiative. She is the author of Waste: One Woman's Fight Against America's Dirty Secret, winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize for a first book in the public interest. In 2020, Flowers was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama.