Waste: One Woman's Fight Against America's Dirty Secret

Regular price $ 25.99

by Catherine Coleman Flowers

The New Press

11/17/2020, hardcover

SKU: 9781620976081


The MacArthur grant-winning "Erin Brockovich of Sewage" tells the riveting story of the environmental justice movement that is firing up rural America, with a foreword by the renowned author of Just Mercy

MacArthur "genius" Catherine Coleman Flowers grew up in Lowndes County, Alabama, a place that's been called "Bloody Lowndes" because of its violent, racist history. Once the epicenter of the voting rights struggle, today it's Ground Zero for a new movement that is Flowers's life's work. It's a fight to ensure human dignity through a right most Americans take for granted: basic sanitation. Too many people, especially the rural poor, lack an affordable means of disposing cleanly of the waste from their toilets, and, as a consequence, live amid filth.

Flowers calls this America's dirty secret. In this powerful book she tells the story of systemic class, racial, and geographic prejudice that foster Third World conditions, not just in Alabama, but across America, in Appalachia, Central California, coastal Florida, Alaska, the urban Midwest, and on Native American reservations in the West.

Flowers's book is the inspiring story of the evolution of an activist, from country girl to student civil rights organizer to environmental justice champion at Bryan Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative. It shows how sanitation is becoming too big a problem to ignore as climate change brings sewage to more backyards, and not only those of poor minorities.


"From the southern states, there have always been strong women who stood and fought for justice. To names like Fannie, Rosa, and Amelia, we must now add Catherine Flowers. Waste is the story of her work to organize communities against environmental racism. The fight is in her soul and because it is the truth, it will be exposed." --Rev. Dr. William Barber II

"Combining careful research, a powerful personal story, and bringing to life the rich legacy and civil rights history of Lowndes County, Alabama, Waste is a gift and a must-read for any activist, educator, or individual on the path to transforming our country towards justice and equity for all. " --Varshini Prakash, Sunrise Movement

About the Author:

Catherine Coleman Flowers is the founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, and since 2008 has been the rural development manager at the Race and Poverty Initiative of the Equal Justice Initiative. She is the author of Waste: One Woman's Fight Against America's Dirty Secret, winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize for a first book in the public interest. In 2020, Flowers was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama.