To Live and Breathe: Women and Environmental Justice in Washington, D.C.

The Anacostia Community Museum will be closed from January 8, 2024-March 22, 2024. We will reopen on Saturday, March 23, 2024 with our next exhibition, A Bold and Beautiful Vision: A Century of Black Arts Education in Washington, DC,1900-2000. We hope you will join us! 

On view May 19, 2023 - January 7, 2024

Women have led the environmental justice movement. Women are often the ones who notice patterns of disease in their communities, fight to protect their families and neighbors, and bear the burden of health disparities. In this exhibition from the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum, explore how local women of color draw on a long history of activism and advance environmental justice efforts not only in D.C., but across the country and beyond. Visitors will be inspired as they learn why women have become leaders in the environmental justice movement, which pathways they have taken to arrive there, and how their efforts benefit our local communities and the earth. 

Above digital artwork by Amir Khadar has been commissioned as a mural by the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum for the exhibit “To Live and Breathe: Women and Environmental Justice in Washington, D.C.”

A person holds a pair of scissors above the quilting interactive in the exhibition To Live and Breathe
A hand hovers over a parking building interactive which includes small pieces of paper with words like park and lights in the to Live and Breathe exhibition
A woman wearing a red sweater sits at an interactive shaped like a kitchen table in the To Live and Breathe Exhibition
Two women stand over an interactive in the exhibition, with a large map of Washington DC on the interactive table and sticks with paper sit in the table
A person reads a panel in the exhibition
A woman has her back to the camera as she reads a panel in the exhibition
A man lifts a piece of an interactive in the exhibition, with bottles of colorful nailpolish above the panel
Two women stand in front of pencil drawings of women in the exhibition
three individuals stand next to each other while they read a panel in the exhibition, with a colorful mural in the background

To Live and Breathe: Women and Environmental Justice in Washington, D.C. 
Photos: Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum, Matailong Du

Building a Movement Sidedoor Podcast

America has a long history of clustering heavy industry and toxic facilities in communities where people of color live. But in the 1980s, a series of events sparked a movement to fight back against these environmental injustices. We trace the history of the environmental justice movement from the farmlands of North Carolina to a watershed moment in the nation's capital. 

Vernice Miller Travis, environmental justice pioneer; Executive Vice President, Metro Group
Rachel Seidman, curator at the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum
Charles Lee, a founder of the environmental justice movement, senior policy advisor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights

Podcast available at or you can listen wherever you get your podcasts!

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