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Episode 14 and Episode 15: Environmental Racism and Oral History Part I and Part II

From the Southern Oral History Program, this is Press Record: a podcast about the joys and challenges of learning history by talking to those who lived it.

Welcome back, listeners! We are thrilled to bring you Press Record’s first 2- part mini-series focusing on environmental racism in the South through the lens of oral history and storytelling.

Montgomery, AL at the site of what will be the new Slavery to Freedom Museum, operated by the Equal Justice Initiative. Photo Credit: Danielle Purifoy
Professional actors staged Pavithra’s play “Race and Waste in an Aluminum Town” based on oral histories collected in Badin at UNC’s Swain Hall Studio 6 series. Photo credit: Raksha Vasudevan.
Danielle conducts interviews in Studio South Zero. Photo credit Torkwase Dyson
Studio South Zero in West End. Photo Credit: Danielle Purifoy

So what is environmental racism and what does it have to do with oral history? What can we learn from the stories of two Southern spaces? How do municipal governments and major corporations perpetuate environmental racism? A few months ago, Carol Prince sat down with  two scholars doing research on environmental racism using oral history, Danielle Purifoy and Pavithra Vasudevan to talk about these very questions. What you will hear in the following two episodes is excerpts from Carol’s conversation with Danielle and Pavithra interspersed with their oral history interviews.

In Part I,  you’ll meet Danielle and Pavithra and listen to them discuss their projects and the meaning of environmental racism. You’ll also hear from some of the people they interviewed explain their firsthand experiences fighting for environmental justice in the South.

In Part II, you’ll hear more about specific moments from the oral histories they collected, how Danielle and Pavithra showcased their oral histories to the public, and how they continue to press forward in research and activism amidst bleak realities of environmental racism.

For more information about the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network here.

Find the link to the Scalawag series on In Conditions of Fresh Water here.

Find more information on Press Record’s new Facebook page. The SOHP’s twitter page is here. Feel free to tweet your feedback or share your thoughts on oral history and Charlotte or email your comments, questions, or ideas to us at!


Episode 1- Silence Speaks Volumes

Episode 2: Back Ways

Episode 3: Feminism and Oral History

Episode 4: LGBTQ Southern Oral History and Activism

Episode 5: Pet Sounds

Episode 6: Sweet Emotion

Episode 7: Oral History For Movement Building

Episode 8: Voices From Charlotte

Episode 9: Veterans and Oral History

Episode 10: Women and Politics in the South

Episode 11: Oral History and the ERA

Episode 12: Revisiting Backways in Conversation

Episode 13: New Roots/ Nuevas Raíces