We have several incredible speakers from each region impacted by offshore drilling who will share how the oil and gas industry has affected their communities and coasts.
Esau Sinnok is an 18-year-old climate leader from the island of Shishmaref, Alaska. He has watched his home lose approximately 100 feet of coastal land to rising sea levels since he was born in 1997; and has experienced profound loss in his family due to unstable sea ice caused by warmer temperatures. As a young person witnessing the impacts of climate change on his home in a very personal way, Esau is committed to sharing his story so others will get involved. Esau currently serves as Arctic Youth Ambassador to the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, and previously attended the Paris Climate Talks as a Sierra Student Coalition Youth Delegate to the International Climate Negotiations. He is a graduate of the Alaska Youth for Environmental Action program, and he is currently a full-time undergraduate student at University of Alaska Fairbanks. Learn Esau’s story in this 3-minute video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rR9_DncBPuE
Hilton Kelley is the Executive Director and Founder of Community In-power and Development Association Inc., Coordinator of the Southeast Texas Bucket Brigade, And Mobile Community Outreach Director for Coming Clean Collaborative. Mr. Kelley is originally from and currently lives in the refinery and chemical manufacturing town of Port Arthur, Texas. In addition to being a community organizer, Mr. Kelley is an electrician and former member of the U.S. Navy, second class petty officer. After the navy, Mr. Kelley remained in California while there he worked as a youth activist where he was recognized for his youth anti-gang violence efforts and acting ability. He was admitted to the Screen Actor’s Guild in 1991. Mr. Kelley moved back to Port Arthur in order to help rebuild and save the community from which he came. Pollution, neglect and deep despair had taken a heavy toll on Port Arthur TX. In response, Mr. Kelley organized the “Community In-power and Development Association”(C.I.D.A.) and began to challenge the regulatory agencies and their policies and environmental violations of the plants that loom over the community. CIDA collects scientific data about the sources, types, and amounts of pollution emitted by polluting neighbors and educates residents of Port Arthur (who are overwhelmingly low-income individuals and people of color) about the toxic burden they shoulder. While fighting locally, Mr. Kelley also arranged for CIDA to join the international Shell Global Accountability Campaign and spoke at three Shell Annual Meetings in London and the Hague Netherlands. Mr. Kelley is trained to take air samples using the “buckets” (of the Bucket Brigade) as well as the high-tech CEREX real time air monitor. He is also qualified to train others on these devices. In 2002 Mr. Kelley testified before the US. Senate on behalf of impoverished communities across the nation and in 2003 received the Environmental Justice Award from Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter. In 2004 he received the Ben & Jerry Award for Environmental Activism. In 2011, he received the prestigious Goldman Prize for his efforts on environmental justice.
Monique Verdin is a native daughter of southeast Louisiana and a photographer and documentary film maker. Her intimate documentation of the Mississippi River Deltas’ indigenous Houma nation exposes the complex interconnectedness of environment, economics, culture, climate and change. In 2012 she released her first documentary film, My Louisiana Love. Her photography has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and is included in The Good Pirates of the Forgotten Bayous, Yale University Press (2008) and Nonesuch Records’ Habitat for Humanity benefit album Our New Orleans (2005). She received her bachelors degree in Mass Communication at Loyola University in New Orleans.
Earl Kingik is an active member of the Native Village of Point Hope, in Northwest Alaska. Earl is a longtime activist for the Arctic and all of its inhabitants. As an Inupiaq hunter and whaling captain he relies on Chukchi Sea as his ancestors have since time immemorial. Now he teaches the younger generations to practice traditional Inupiaq ways and to always respect and care for their garden, the Arctic Ocean.
Dr. Kyle Horton is a Board Certified Internal Medicine physician who has worked extensively in veterans and environmental policy advocacy both for personal and professional reasons as a health care provider. Personally, she has witnessed some of the devastating effects of fossil fuel exploration through strip mining, which cost her great grandparents much of their farmable land, and also offshore drilling, as one of her extended family members was killed when the Deepwater Horizon exploded. She currently lives in the small coastal tourist destination of Kure Beach, which recently elected a new Mayor in order to become the 100th East Coast town to pass an offshore drilling opposition resolution.
Robert Thompson is an internationally known Inupiat guide Robert Thompson is also a founding member of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands, known as REDOIL. Kaktovik, Alaska is his home. Robert has a great love and respect for the traditional hunting lands and whaling waters of the Inupiat people. He has traveled to many other places in the world and he is a Vietnam veteran of the US Army 101st Airborne Division. Robert has been invited to speak around the United States about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge which is literally the back yard of the Inupiat people on Barter Island and the Gwichin Athabascan people who live to the south. Both of these groups of Native Alaskans have practiced subsistence hunting and conservation on this land for centuries.
Luci Murphy is a native of D.C. where she is a vocalist who often leads group singing, but “sun-lights” as a medical interpreter of Spanish and English. She has a long history of community activism, especially working with children at risk. She has visited Lebanon to observe Palestinian Refugee Camps, China just before the normalization of relations with the U.S., Brazil for a grass-roots organizing conference, and Cuba to oppose U.S. travel restrictions.
A past president of the D.C. League of Women Voters, she has also served on the Steering Committees of the People’s Music Network, “Health Care Now!,” and Washington Inner-city Self Help. She has also been the convener of the Gray Panthers of Metro D.C., an associate producer of Sophie’s Parlor Women’s Radio Collective at WPFW 89.3 FM, the Pacifica Station in D.C. Currently she sings with the SGI New Century Chorus and the D.C. Labor Chorus.
In 2007, she received the Paul Robeson Award for Peace and Justice from the Friends of the People’s Weekly World. In 2012 the Emergence Community Arts Collective gave her its “IN HER HONOR Award.” In the same year, the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Committee gave her the “Josephine Butler Nuclear Free Future Award.” At the Great Labor Arts Exchange she will receive the 2016 “Joe Hill Award” for lifetime labor cultural activism.
Melvin Deal is a native Washingtonian and the Dean of African Drumming & Dance in D.C., who began his dance career at the Northeast Academy of Dance in D.C. in 1959. Receiving a Bachelors Degree in 1965 from Howard University, Mr. Deal devoted his time and talents to the positive development of youths in the community. He founded the African Heritage Center in 1973. Mr. Deal is a founding instructor at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts, in Washington, D.C. and has served as Artist In Residence at all of the major universities and colleges in the Metro-Washington area. Credited with performing the first Kwanzaa ceremony and celebration in the Metro-Washington area in 1968, Mr. Deal is known as the father of African culture in the Metro-Washington area. Melvin is a performance artist focusing on health and addiction issues with innovative traditional African Masquerade presentations. Serving the metro-Washington area and beyond for the past forty years plus, Mr. Melvin Deal, A Community Artist remains true to his calling.
Earl Bellomee, also known as Bobo Earl, is an African descendant born in Bronx, NY, and raised by his mother, alongside his two siblings, in the New York City and Westchester County areas of New York. He was heavily influenced at a young age by music and dance of the African diaspora, experiencing and playing various African percussion instruments alongside his older brother – most commonly including the djembe, dununs, and “talking drum” – in the midst of traveling and participating in numerous community and school programs, and performances with their mother, healing-dance facilitator and therapist, Brenda “Iya Sawu Unequa” Nixon. Through the years, he was blessed to learn from such well-renowned and respected master percussionists and musicians such as Kehinde O’Uhuru, Kimati Dinizulu, “Papa Dame” Gueye, “Dr. Djo Bi”, and many others, studying rhythms from areas of Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Ghana. For Bobo Earl, even though African drum and dance has always been part of his lifestyle, the fusion of African music and dance became a priority for him as an avenue to promote self and community oneness and healing. Today, Bobo Earl resides in Washington, DC, as a father of 4 children, and serves as a teacher of traditional Malinke rhythms and folklore, a “djembekanfola” and “dununfola” (a title of respect given to “one who makes the djembe and dunun drums speak”), and co-founder/artistic director of African diasporic drum and dance collective, Ni Dembaya.
Kwame William Caudle is Native Washingtonian who began studying with Melvin Deal and Baba Ngoma (Carroll Joyner) of African Heritage Dancers and Drummers in 1977. Early member of Kankouran African Dance Company, has supported most of the D.C.-based African dance troupes during ’80s and ’90s. Currently performing with NIDEMBAYA DanceTroupe at Riverside Community Life Center at Marvin Gaye Park in Washington, D.C. east of the river.