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My name is Norris McDonald and I am an environmentalist. I was the first black environmentalist to work as a professional in the Washington, D.C-based environmental movement. Part of me tires of the 'first black' moniker, but I guess it is still important in the context of America's history. I hope to also provide some insight into the history of the environmental movement and the environmental justice movement. I formed the Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy and its outreach arm, the African American Environmentalist Association in 1985.

I started as a young man in his mid twenties and now I am a man in his mid fifties. I went looking for a job on Capitol Hill in 1979 after I graduated from Wake Forest University. I answered an ad in The Washington Post to work for an environmental group. It was two blocks from Capitol Hill so I figured it would be a good stepping stone to getting a job in a congressional office. I was just delighted to be in the political power center of the world. I had no idea at that time that I would make a career out of working on environmental and energy issues.

Now I have been working as an environmentalist for over 30 years. I have been committed to be a good steward to our planet and to work for improvements in local neighborhoods. It has been gratifying and I am delighted to have found my calling in life. Of course, life throws you curve balls that make it interesting. I did not anticipate becoming a chronic, acute asthmatic and a single parent. Plus, my personal worldview has probably limited my success, but I would not change it because it is rooted in my belief in God.

This book is dedicated to my father, Sandy Norris McDonald, Sr., my mother Katie Louvina Best, and my son Sandy Norris McDonald, III.