Collecting Stories from Black Vallejo: Migration, Pollution, Resistance

David Pellow
Environmental Studies
UC Santa Barbara

Julie Sze
American Studies
UC Davis

Collecting Stories from Black Vallejo is a collaborative public humanities project that collects stories from Black residents of South Vallejo around themes of migration, pollution, and resistance. Vallejo, on the Northern edge of the Bay Area, is a geographically and racially stratified city that has been related to the US military since the 1850s. Vallejo and the Black neighborhoods in South Vallejo in particular are defined by racism and invisibility, both in emergency situations and in everyday neglect. These neighborhoods have a significant elderly population with severely compromised health, which was only exacerbated by Covid. Compared to surrounding communities, Black communities in South Vallejo have some of the highest rates of cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, respiratory illnesses, and asthma in both children and adults. Collecting Stories from Black Vallejo draws upon academic work and integrates it with community perspectives. The project highlights black voices in Vallejo, specifically community advocates who have been fighting environmental racism and police violence over decades. Collecting Stories from Black Vallejo gives form and focus for collaborative work to highlight Black perspectives around migration and pollution while centralizing continuity and resistance.

Learn more about the project in this Foundry interview with Julie Sze