Pamela Rush fought for environmental justice before being shot by coronavirus


Pamela Sue Rush, a resident of Lowndes County, died July 3 of complications from COVID-19. Rush, 49, was the mother of a 12-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son. She was also a well-known activist who fought against injustice in poor areas.

Before falling ill, Rush spent the last two years of his life fighting for the poor and those affected by systemic racism. She had personally been the victim of a predatory lender who accused her “almost 4 times the value” for his mobile home in County Lowndes, which was dilapidated and surrounded by sewers.

Due to various health problems, Rush was unable to work and earned a monthly income of barely $ 1,000. As a result, Rush was unable to make the necessary changes to his home that others take for granted. In a video titled “Trapped,” posted by the Bernie Sanders campaign, Rush shows viewers his home and the surrounding sewage marsh.

“My mom also lived in the mobile home. In the winter it’s too cold and my mom caught pneumonia in the trailer and died, ”Rush’s voice recounts as she places the blankets on the floor to keep the cold out from under her door.

In an interview with Southerly magazine, Rush explained how she had “dumped her family’s garbage directly into her backyard for the past two decades.” Unable to afford an on-site septic tank, Rush said it was his only option. She and her two children also suffered from respiratory problems related to the mold growing inside their home due to the intense humidity.

Determined not to be defeated by her situation, she chose to use her voice to help the countless others affected by systemic racism. Rush has become one of the faces of the poor campaign and has appeared in multiple media to share her story. In June 2018, Rush, accompanied by Reverend William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign, testified before members of the United States House and Senate, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, and told her story through tears.

“I live in a mobile home with my two children,” Rush told lawmakers. “They billed me over $ 114,000 for a crumbling mobile home. And I have all these animals that come to my house. I trapped about four possums in my house. Cats and stuff. And I have raw sewage. Catching a breath, Rush said, “I have no money. I am poor.”

That same year, Rush was introduced to environmental activist Catherine Flowers and told her she wanted to tell her story. The two have worked closely together to speak out against the prejudices that affect the lives of black people. In an article on Facing South, Flowers spoke about how profoundly Rush has affected her work. “She shared her story and showed me her reality. It will forever influence my work and my commitment to ending poverty, ”said Flowers.

At the end of June, Rush was hospitalized in Selma with a diagnosis of COVID-19. Flowers said there were several systemic factors that contributed to Rush’s death.

“This virus, like a homing missile, focused on Pam. The intersections of poverty, environmental injustice, climate change and racial and health disparities have imposed multiple targets on her,” Flowers said. .

When not fighting for the victims of injustice, Rush was first and foremost a mother who loved her children. Those who knew her expressed admiration for her strength, honesty and strong moral code.

She marked the world

Rush’s death also sparked a wave of appreciation expressed by several organizations grateful for his advocacy efforts.

On her Facebook page, the National Council for Science and Faith expressed condolences to Rush’s family, saying, “She fought for justice while she lived in injustice. Reverend Barber told the Montgomery Advertiser that he viewed Rush as a sister.

“We will never forget this woman named Pamela Rush,” said Barber.

The Poor Campaign honored Rush on his Twitter page with a video of his testimony to Congress. “It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of one of our beloved members of the #PoorPeoplesCampaign family. Pamela Rush, of the (campaign), has spent her life fighting to end the impacts of systemic racism and poverty, ”the tweet said.

Flowers said she will forever remember Rush’s passion for tackling injustice. “Pamela Sue Rush was the Fannie Hamer of our time. She was able to shed light on poverty in America in a way that made it difficult for us to ignore it, ”said Flowers.

Rush expressed in her interview with Southerly how she couldn’t let the shame she felt about her situation keep her from doing what was right. “I’m really ashamed of it, but I had to come out of my shame,” she said. “God gave me strength.

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