Orlando ignored environmental racism, so women stepped up


Orlando responded to requests to study pollution and the health of residents in Parramore and other historically black neighborhoods by dragging its feet for years.

That’s why the Coalition of Black Women – Central Florida applied for and received a $120,000 federal grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to study these long-standing problems.

“People’s health and lives were at risk,” said Project Manager Lawanna Gelzer. “We were tired waiting on the city. We had to act.”

The grant work begins this Thursday (Dec. 3) 6:30 p.m. when the Coalition of 100 Black Women holds an online community forum to begin the fact-finding process.

Residents are encouraged to attend this forum by clicking:


(After you click, check your email for access to the meeting.)

The dangerous pollution in Orlando’s historically black Parramore community was spotlighted almost 2 years ago in a national article published by the Huffington Post, a respected news source.

That article (which you can read by clicking here) focused on Latoya Lee, a longtime Parramore resident, whose respiratory problems worsened after she and her family moved across from one of the 2 Superfund sites in the neighborhood. Superfund sites contain the most toxic and dangerous waste dumps in the nation. They typically cost tens of millions of dollars to clean.

Mrs. Lee died before the article published.

Under this grant, the Coalition of 100 Black Women will study the health of residents in Parramore, Holden Heights and Mercy Drive. Those communities are bracketed by heavily traveled Interstate 4, SR 408, Colonial Drive, and John Young Parkway. There are pollution-producing industrial businesses spread through those neighborhoods.

Across the nation many black and low-income communities are "cancer clusters" where many residents developed cancer because governments allowed pollution-producing businesses and landfills to operate nearby. (Read more about cancer clusters by clicking here.)

“When we say Black Lives Matter, we’re not just talking about police,” Ms. Gelzer said. “This is environmental justice, that’s Black Lives Matter, too. Black Lives Matter is all about social justice and ending all forms of systemic




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