The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Non-GC Events

Erik Wallenberg 2/21 Workshop, “The Free Southern Theater’s Environmental Justice Script”

The New York Metro Seminar in Environmental History is organizing a workshop on 21 February at 12:30pm Eastern (via zoom) featuring GC student Erik Wallenberg.

Please join us on 21 February 2022 at 12:30pm EST (on zoom) to workshop Erik Wallenberg’s piece on “The Free Southern Theater’s Environmental Justice Script and the Black Radical Archive” (abstract below).

If you would like to attend, please send Gaby ( or Marc ( an email, and we’ll send you the zoom link and Erik’s paper.



Abstract. The Free Southern Theater (FST), a cultural arm of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), based in the Desire neighborhood of New Orleans created a performance called “Ghetto of Desire” in 1966. Highlighting the environmental conditions of the neighborhood, including poor housing, lack of greenspace, and hazards that lurked in the waste dump and Industrial Canal that boxed residents in, this performance shows the fight against environmental racism and for environmental justice before they were named as such. Produced from community dialogue, the same method which SNCC used to build-up local leaders, the FST helped residents highlight the landscape of injustice where they lived and articulate their demand for a solution. Recorded to be aired nationally on CBS, the Housing Authority of New Orleans feared the response from city residents and had the program blacked-out locally. The FST performance is part of the “groundwork” that led to the environmental justice struggles which followed.