Celebrating Black History Month with DC Solar for All

Black History Month gives us the opportunity to think about the inspirational Black leaders who are making history and changing the world. This year, we would like to use this space to honor a few of the leaders who inspire us with their transformative work.

Muriel Bowser, DC Mayor 

On November 6, 2018, Muriel Bowser became the first woman ever re-elected as the Mayor of Washington, DC and the first mayor to earn a second term in 16 years. Since taking office, the Mayor has taken bold steps to reset DC’s global and national competitiveness, speed up affordable housing production, diversify the DC economy, increase satisfaction in city services, and invest in programs and policies that allow more families to live and thrive in DC.

Mayor Muriel Bowser also launched the DC Solar for All initiative with a commitment to provide 100,000 low-to-moderate income families with the benefits of locally generated clean energy. The 2019 “DC Solar Stories” video series celebrates the successes and challenges of the first two years of implementing the program. One of the most progressive solar mandates in the US, DC Solar Stories breaks down how the District is using innovation and equity (or equal access to local, clean energy) to slash resident's utility burdens and protect underserved communities in the face of the changing climate.

John Francis, the Planetwalker

John Francis is an American activist who was profoundly impacted by the sight of 800,000 gallons of oil spilled in San Francisco Bay in 1971 and the damage from that spill. Francis was in his 20s at the time, and he  joined the volunteers who scrubbed the beaches and fought to save birds and sea creatures poisoned by petroleum. However, that was just the beginning. 

John resolved to give up motorized vehicles and walked everywhere (including to universities in three states) to raise awareness for the damage caused by the oil industry. He also took a vow of silence that would ultimately inspire better conversations about the environment. These experiences inspired his books Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking, 17 Years of Silence and The Ragged Edge of Silence: Finding Peace in a Noisy World.

Audrey and Frank Peterman, Conservation Pioneers

Audrey and Frank Peterman are passionate advocates for getting all Americans - regardless of race, age, or ethnicity - outside. They have led the charge to make sure that Black Americans feel welcome to take advantage of national parks and are able to appreciate our natural heritage.

In 1995, Frank and Audrey traveled roughly 12,000 miles by car visiting national parks across the country for the first time, but they found that they were often the only Black visitors at parks during that first trip. In order to share the beauty of the parks with others, they founded Earthwise Productions to bridge the gap between governmental agencies, private corporations, not-for-profit organizations in the environmental segment, and minority populations. Through this and other outreach, they have helped make national parks more accessible and welcoming to Black visitors.