Environmentalist Spotlight: Councilmember Devin T. Murphy

Environmentalist Spotlight: Councilmember Devin T. Murphy

In honor of Black History Month, MCE is proud to recognize Pinole City Council Member Devin T. Murphy. Councilor Murphy is a local entrepreneur and environmental activist, and a new member of MCE’s Board of Directors.

Can you tell me about your background before entering into public service?

I was born and raised in Bayview-Hunters Point which is a historic African-American community in San Francisco. Much of the Bay View community suffers from the effects of toxic waste in the area. Growing up there formed my understanding of environmental justice. I went to UCLA for university where I studied Political Science, Afro-American studies, and Public Policy. I was also UCLA’s first Black and openly gay student body president. After college I moved to Pinole and began my involvement in community-based work.

What do you hope to achieve in Pinole in the way of climate action?

I want to lead us in the right direction and ensure we’re doing everything we can to address and mitigate the climate crisis. As a bayfront community, Pinole’s residents and business owners will be directly impacted by sea level rise. In the past years we’ve also seen increasing impacts from the disastrous California wildfires. The reality is that the effects of climate change aren’t years down the road, they are happening now and we feel those impacts today.

I’m truly committed to creating a green economy for Pinole which means building a climate conscious roadmap to COVID-19 recovery. Pinole has a great small business community. As we rebuild our economy, we need to help our homeowners, tenants, and business leaders to grow in energy-efficient and environmentally conscious ways.

Why were you interested in participating on MCE’s Board?

We are in such a pivotal moment of transition so it is a true honor to serve as a board director for MCE. I am so moved by the push to advance energy democracy and put the power back into the hands of people. As a person of color in the environmental movement I know how lacking diversity can often be, so being that representation and voice for people of color is really important to me. People of color represent 36% of the U.S. population, but on average, we represent no more than just 16% of U.S. environmental NGO Boards, foundations and organizations. I also believe that MCE is really committing to Just Transition which is such an important part of addressing the climate crisis and aligns well with my mission of building a green, inclusive economy. MCE is centering workers and local programs in sustainability efforts and I really want to be involved in that work both as a board member and a community member.

How has your experience as a Black American impacted your work?

Embracing diversity and inclusion is a critical platform of mine. Racial issues have come to the forefront in America and I believe that those in power have a responsibility to take action. As a public servant, I aim to help communities understand why justice for Black people is so urgent and important at this time.

I also try to show others that my identity as a Black American is ever-changing. I’m an entrepreneur, I’m spiritual, I’m someone who believes in the power of people, and I’m a community organizer. This is not because I am not proud of my Blackness, but because I want people to dig deeper into experiences and history. I want people to see that beyond skin color there is something so brilliant, creative, and dynamic about Black people across this country and across this globe.

Why is Black History Month important to you?

Black History Month is an opportunity for learning, opportunity, growth, truth and reconciliation. Even if you’re not Black, this is a moment where all of us can dig deep into the truth and not revise the history of America but to recognize it. This year I pushed for Pinole to recognize Black History Month through a proclamation. Opportunities for embracing diversity are really critical to me because they allow us to listen to communities that have not been heard for a long time. Black History Month is such an important time for all of us to dig into who we want to be and what we want for our future.



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