Document Type


Publication Date



The purpose of this essay is to discuss the past, present, and future of the environmental justice movement as illustrated by the highway between Selma and Montgomery in Alabama and the highway system surrounding the City of Atlanta in neighboring Georgia. The essay is divided into three parts. The first part describes environmental justice, seeking both to place it in a broader historical perspective and to discuss how it relates to civil rights law and environmental law. The second part undertakes a closer examination of the challenges presented by efforts to fashion positive law to address environmental justice norms. This discussion considers why it has proven so difficult for both civil rights and environmental law to evolve in a responsive fashion. Particular attention is paid to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which has been an area of emphasis for many in the environmental justice movement. Finally, the essay speculates on where progress is more likely to be made in the future in terms of securing legal bases for the promotion of environmental justice objectives. The essay concludes that the two highways that bookend the essay suggest possible bi-ways to environmental justice based on both environmental and civil rights laws.


Adopted from 31 Cumb. L. Rev. 569-597 (2001) by permission; © 2001 by Cumberland Law Review

Publication Citation

31 Cumb. L. Rev. 569-597 (2001)