Summer Lee Pittsburgh

"We have systemic issues, we have cyclical issues"

We talked with Pennsylvania state representative Summer Lee two years ago about interconnected injustice. Her words continue to ring true.

Editor's note: Environmental insults and police violence aimed at communities of color are interconnected issues. As the nation grieves over the killing of George Floyd, this week we are revisiting stories from our newsroom over the past couple years that examine environmental racism in Black communities.


In 2018, our Pittsburgh reporter Kristina Marusic talked with Summer Lee who became the first Black woman to represent the Pittsburgh region at the state capital.

Since then, Lee has served a productive two-year term. This week she was re-elected, despite a nasty campaign against her run by a less progressive Democratic candidate who'd received massive donations from pro-fracking unions.

Lee's words were true in 2018, but have taken on a renewed relevance as the nation grieves over the killing of George Floyd and protests for racial equality. Lee made clear the connections between persistent pollution in Pittsburgh and police violence.

"You can't talk about one of these issues without addressing all of them."

Read the full interview with Summer Lee.

A history-making millennial politician explains what air pollution and police violence have in common

Summer Lee

Summer Lee (right) and fellow state representative Sara Innamorato. Photo courtesy of Summer Lee.

Banner photo: Summer Lee speaking. (Credit: https://www.pahouse.com/Lee/)

Become a donor
Today's top news
From our newsroom

Peter Dykstra: With Ian, treat climate like an 'active shooter'

And let’s treat climate deniers as accomplices.

Chemicals linked to birth defects are being dumped in Pittsburgh’s rivers: Report

Chemicals linked to cancer and developmental harm are also released in large quantities into the city’s three rivers.

Chemical recycling grows — along with concerns about its environmental impacts

Industry says chemical recycling could solve the plastic waste crisis, but environmental advocates and some lawmakers are skeptical.

Universities are failing us

Our educational systems are failing to prepare people for existential environmental threats

Peter Dykstra: The good news that gets buried by the bad

On the environment beat, maybe it’s right that the bad news dominates. But the good news is out there, too.