Museum of the City of New York's Chief Curator Sarah Henry says there are many parallels between environmentalism and issues raised today during the new coronavirus pandemic, but one is especially apparent: inequality.
“As early as the 70s, groups like Puerto Rican activist group the Young Lords are making connections between health and environment in communities of color over issues of asbestos and lead paint and air pollution,” Henry told NY1. “The same communities that are today being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus crisis."
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Environmentalists are hopeful some of the unexpected effects of the pandemic — a decline in pollution because of less travel and business activity, for one example — may trigger new efforts to improve air quality.
"For a more sustainable way of being, maybe we don't need to be flying as much. We don't need to be driving as much," Henry said.
It seems the importance of knowing our history has perhaps never been more important.
"It's very helpful to look back over the city’s history to see not only how New York City has overcome things before, but also how New Yorkers have banded together and really risen to the occasion," said Henry.