Contamination Running Deep: Oral Histories of Environmental Racism, Injustice, and Outrage of One Family in a Southern African-American Community
Term of Award
Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)
Document Type and Release Option
Dissertation (open access)
Copyright Statement / License for Reuse
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading
Ming Fang He
Committee Member 1
Committee Member 2
Committee Member 3
Committee Member 3 Email
This is an inquiry into oral histories of five members of my family that are residents of a southern African American community, Hyde Park located in Augusta, Georgia. These members of my family, Eunice Jordan, Sharon Wells, Ernest Jordan, DeWanna Jordan, and Darius Jordan, have endured the environmental contamination and social injustices. These family members are children and grandchildren of Willie and Lillian Wells who moved to Hyde Park in 1950 with the intention of living the "American Dream" and creating a legacy for future generations that began with owning their land and home. Since then the family has learned that they were exposed to toxic chemicals. After a highly publicized flood in October 1990, the residents of Hyde Park were devastated when they found that the toxic chemicals had contaminated the soil and water. My father Ernest Jordan was the first to sue the industrial company that contaminated the community. Ever since then they have been battling with local and state governments to relocate them. Instead of relocating the residents and cleaning up the Hyde Park, local and state governments spent millions of dollars on testing soil and water. To keep a majority black neighborhood in a confined area such as this is a form of oppression. Theoretically drawing upon the works of Derrick Bell (1992), Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic (2001), Gloria Ladson-Billings (2003), and Gloria Ladson-Billings and William F. Tate (2005) on critical race theory and methodologically upon the works of Richard Grele and Studs Terkel (1991), Donald Ritchie (2003), Thomas Charlton, Lois Myers, and Rebecca Sharpless (2006, 2007), Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln (2008) on oral history. I explored the oral histories of five African American residents who have been exposed to environmental contaminants and compounded by the feelings of despair and helplessness. I also reflect on my life living in Hyde Park and the turmoil that has affected this community. I entwined songs and poems throughout my dissertation with the intent to connect the oral histories of the community's struggles with individual struggles against racism. These songs and poems aim to capture the emotions of what the residents were feeling as they live with the injustices that have permeated the soil, water, and air that they breathe. Although it has history rooted in the community activism and promise, Hyde Park has been plagued by sickness and uncertainties for their future. It is my hope that by telling the stories of these residents, societal norms will be reexamined and the realities of this community will be exposed. It is also my hope that educators take heed and find innovative methods to educate students that face similar circumstances in our society. Most importantly by acquiring such knowledge we will be able to develop a perception of justice and take a stand against oppressive policies.
Dean, Deborah M., "Contamination Running Deep: Oral Histories of Environmental Racism, Injustice, and Outrage of One Family in a Southern African-American Community" (2011). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 533.
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